This blog post was updated on July 9, 2021.
The Earth is filled with infinite experiences, wonders, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Imagine hiking through the verdant, kaleidoscopic Amazon rainforest, camping out underneath the aurora borealis in the Canadian tundra, or meandering through an enchanting Kenyan village. Much education is experienced in a classroom or through a textbook; those avenues do get the job done, but they aren’t nearly as fulfilling or effective as traveling the world is.
See the world, and broaden your cultural, intellectual, and spiritual education like you could never have imagined. Here are right reasons why traveling is best education possible.
It Helps You Learn New Languages
Though English is a reliably popular second language for most corners of the world, prepared travelers need to do their fare share of language studying. Before visiting a country where English isn’t the primary language, learn the basics through a book or audioguide.
After building a foundation, stretch your skills by talking with actual native speakers. A textbook can’t teach you slang, intonation, or vocal expression, but other people sure can. Not only will conversing help expand your cultural horizons, but it will also hasten your listening and speaking capabilities.
You’ll Explore Cultural Differences
In communicating and interacting with other cultures, you’ll find just how they vary from your own. In Italy, many people go on “passeggiatas,” or post-meal walks. In Mexico, it’s common for people to take a “siesta,” or nap, after lunch.
Different cultures prefer different types of cuisine, manners, and social expectations. Be certain to read up on these aspects of “culture shock” before your travel, and learn to embrace them when you’re there. Learning is the ultimate point of traveling, so take it in whole-heartedly and keep an open mind.
You’ll Discover Cultural Similarities
After observing what separates your culture from another’s, keep an eye out for common ground too. Do you and the people around you have a shared love of art? Or both communicate with a heavy emphasis on body language? Where do your moral and social values align?
Too often, people classify those who are not like them or who speak a different language as “other.” Break down those barriers by finding shared interests, habits, and values.
You Can Unearth History
History taught at all levels of education in the United States generally skews towards a Western emphasis. American history is the bulk of what’s taught, and the remainder, world history, is relatively Eurocentric.
By exploring other parts of the world (or even hidden gem locations in your own country), you’ll play the part of an adventurer discover all new artifacts of knowledge. Pore through indigenous texts, embrace fascinating styles of art, stand beneath overlooked landmarks, and study the events the shaped nations.
Understanding another culture’s history is the premier way to understand its politics, motivations, and social habits. Take your travel slowly so you can really marinate in the world around you. It may be the only way to learn about it authentically.
You Gain Independence
The very act of traveling is a test of one’s will, patience, and fortitude.
The most well-planned traveler will see his or her plans fall awry. Rides show up late, suitcases break apart, boarding passes get lost, and it all usually happens at the same time. Traveling teaches everyone how to improvise.
Don’t adhere too strictly to a planner; feel free to get lost down a windy, sun-soaked alleyway or find hidden treasure in a sprawling marketplace. All you need is some cheap airfare to unleash your inner pioneer and show yourself what you’re made of. You’re guaranteed to be impressed.
You See the Current State of the World
Traveling is the best education because it provides a glimpse of what life is really like outside textbooks, classrooms, and documentaries, which are often biased and present a narrow, one-sided perspective. Visiting another country first-hand can dispel any misconceptions you had surrounding the people that live there. In short, a picture can paint a thousand words, but nothing compares to exploring a city or place yourself.
Traveling or studying abroad helps you shift from a self-focused to a more global world view. The more you learn about other cultures, the greater your ability to see connections between different people and places. Moreover, traveling is the ultimate history lesson. Everything you’ve read about in books comes to life and the political, economic, and social concepts you learned about in school suddenly make a lot more sense.
You Can Experience Nature Firsthand
If you want to experience mountains, lakes, oceans, beaches, forests, and plains in all of their splendor, you must see them firsthand. Videos and photographs pale in comparison to an in-person voyage, reinforcing the idea that traveling is the best education.
In addition to experiencing the beauty of nature firsthand, traveling also opens our eyes to the many problems we have in the natural world such as pollution, climate change, and global warming. We might read about these issues in textbooks, but visiting a city allows us to see the real-world impact of these problems. We can never fully understand the effects of air pollution, for example, until we travel to an overcrowded city and see people in face masks walking around everywhere.
You’ll Gain Compassion and Empathy for Others
Traveling provides opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of other people and the reasons for their actions. It broadens your horizons and opens your eyes to many different cultures and ways of life. Visiting a third-world country, for example, makes you realize how easy it is to take things for granted and helps you develop compassion and empathy for others’ suffering.
Immersing yourself in other cultures also teaches you a lot about yourself and how you fit into the bigger picture of the world. Stepping outside your comfort zone is the best way to learn and grow. Experiencing new things will not only expand your knowledge but sharpen your ability to connect with others. The best part is discovering that, no matter where we come from, we all have more in common than we realize.