Traveling: The Best Education in the World
By: Margie de Jager
I have been raised to believe that any form of education is worthwhile. But personally I have learned more about the world, people, and myself while traveling than I ever have from a textbook or a lecture. I have my experiences from around the world to thank for who I am today. It sounds cliché, but I truly believe that traveling is the only thing you buy, or invest money in, that makes your richer. These are my reasons why I believe that traveling is truly the best form of education.
1. Traveling Kills Ignorance
You cannot truly understand or grasp a new culture if you do not immerse yourself into it. Granted, traveling only kills ignorance if you are traveling with the motives of experiencing every different culture, food, music, dance, you encounter with an open mind and an open heart. You learn that the way you were brought up, or the way you live your life, is not the only way.
2. No Piece of Paper is Better Than Life Experience
These days, I feel a degree is so sought after, but after the fact, many of us have no idea where to go from there. I will be finishing my psychology degree in 2015, and as if I have any idea what I want to do with it. The only thing doing my degree has taught me if that I do not want to work in the psychology field. Many people have found their callings through university and through their degrees, but for myself, it wasn’t until I spent six weeks in Namibia, working with wilderness conservancy and the hospitality industry in Africa, that I realized what I wanted to work towards. I will forever be thankful for the life experiences I gained working at Khowarib Lodge and with Chris Bakkes of Wilderness Safari’s and Save the Rhino Trust. If your traditional education isn’t cutting it for you or you need to find out what it is that really gets you passionate, TRAVEL. Trust me, it will find you.
3. You Break Routine
There is an old saying and we’ve all heard it. Routine kills creativity. Creativity is so important, not just for those that create, but for everyone. Creativity helps you solve problems and helps you stay sharp. It also keeps you from getting in a rut, and seriously who wants that. When you do not know where you are going to be in 2 days, you tend to also live in the moment, and experience absolutely everything about the place you are in at that time.
4. You Become Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Life is going to throw a lot of uncomfortable things our way and traveling teaches you to thrive within those uncomfortable times. Whether it is trying to communicate with someone from a different language, or being cramped with 200 other travelers on an overnight boat to another amazing Thai island. If you become comfortable being out of your comfort zones, you open yourself up to a whole new world of experiences.
5. You Learn Your Limits and How Far You Can Push Them
Limits are meant to be pushed and traveling teaches you exactly how far you can go. Your patience limit, your alcohol limit, your budget limit, your emotional limit. Whatever limit it may be, while traveling you are pushing these limits. And if you happen to over step a limit or two while you are testing them, its okay because you learn more from that anyways.
This is probably one of my favourite things about traveling. I’ve met people from all walks of life, coming from all over the world, all with completely different stories. But no matter how different the people you meet are, they are all on the same journey as you. They want to learn and experience, and they are more than likely down for whatever crazy idea you have for your next journey. If you are lucky, you grab a name and can keep in touch. But there is also beauty in meeting someone for a day or a night, either you didn’t have time to exchange names, or you’ve forgotten it by the morning. Doesn’t matter. The people you meet travel you always travel with you, if only in your memories.
7. Reading Can Only Take You So Far
I love to read. And I really love to read about traveling. And you definitely need a good book by your side while you’re on the road. But, reading about a place does not compare to actually being there and experiencing it for yourself. Traveling allows you to create your own stories, whether you write them down or not. I’ve also fallen into the trap of reading too many reviews and “Top Ten Things To Do”, which can be useful, but can also make you bias. Don’t let reading make you bias, let it make you excited to experience it for yourself.
8. Because of the Stories
If you don’t travel, you will miss out on all the experience that will teach you something about life, and therefore you will be missing out on the good story that comes from that experience. Leading on from point 7, the stories that come out of traveling are unbeatable. While you travel, opportunities are everywhere. Go a little off the grid, hang out with the locals, take the road less traveled, because that’s where the good stories come from. If you travel properly, the people back home won’t believe your stories, because your stories will be THAT GOOD.
9. You Become Thankful
Every meal, every drink, every travel day that takes only an hour longer than they said it would, you are thankful. You become thankful for a strangers smile, or a local trying their best to speak your language in order to help you find your way around a place they call home. Every time you sit down for a meal, you are thankful for what is put in front of you and you know its going to be so good. When your beer is cold and not warm, you are thankful. You become thankful for the little things. Becoming thankful while you travel isn’t something you have to learn, for if you travel properly, it comes naturally.
10. You Learn/Prefer to Live Without all the Luxuries
Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone and my social media (obviously), but I’ve also learned that I can do without. You start to use technology only when necessary, such as trying to meet up with someone or letting your loved ones back home know you are still alive. While traveling you do not use social media for useless things like complaining about things you can’t change, or “creeping” other people’s seeming amazing lives, because you do not have time for that, nor do you care. You also realize how much you can live without. If you’re a girl, you realize that a genuine smile, messy hair and sun-kissed skin is the only makeup you need while you are traveling. Who needs a huge bed when you are only going to want to sleep 5 hours a night, because you have other things to do. The list goes on about things that you learn to live without while traveling, you will surprise yourself. Especially if you are backpacking, you will want to carry only those things that are absolutely necessary.
11. You Appreciate The Country That You Come From
While you are traveling, you realize how much you take for granted in your own country. If you come from a first world country, like myself, it is so easy to take everyday things for granted, such as clean tap water and safety. Traveling into countries that do not have the luxuries or perhaps standards of living as where you are from, can really open your eyes. Upon coming home, you may even be annoyed with how much you took for granted before. You may even downsize. Appreciation is never a bad thing and adapting to a way of life that don’t take anything for granted is an ideal. While traveling, you also meet people, extremely happy people, that have far less material things than you do. This realization is more valuable than gold.
12. You Become The You’est You You Can Be
When traveling, you become the most you you could have ever imagined. It is so hard to explain it any other way. You do not rely on anyone but yourself, you do not answer to anyone but yourself. For me I became more positive, nothing was an issue because I was forced to just figure it out. You learn about what you are passionate about. If you have “learned” all of the above points I mentioned, you will be more yourself than you have ever been. I don’t care if its been said a million times before, but you find yourself while traveling, in the most unexpected places.
13. Because Who Knows…
You won’t know if everything I just wrote is just my illusions of how much you learn traveling, unless you take it upon yourself and find out. Because who knows, you could become less ignorance (God knows we could use less ignorance in this world), you could test and break your limits, learn to live with minimal and be happier than ever, become thankful and grateful, and WHO KNOWS, maybe even find a little bit more of yourself than you thought possible. But seriously, do not take my word for it. Because I’m 21 and have a whole life of education ahead of me.
Thanks for reading! Please comment, share, and pin! Cheers, Margs xx