Why is traveling important? I believe traveling should be mandatory during education. It is such an incredible experience, it can have an impact on every aspect of your life and can change you forever. I experienced this when I was younger (discover my first traveling experience on my previous blog post) and it totally changed me. So here is why I think everyone should travel.
It’s so easy
It might sound like a stupid reason but it’s true. It has never been easier to travel anywhere in the world.
Prices are getting lower year after year and you can always find amazing deals to go wherever you want. Websites like Skyscanner or Kayak allow you to find the best deals to fly anywhere. We now have, at the end of our fingertips, the ability to get in touch with millions of people in the world, thanks to amazing applications. Book a room on AirBnB in order to stay at someone’s place rather than in a boring hotel (click on this affiliate link and get a 40$ toward your first trip). Use VizEat to eat a local meal at someone’s house rather than going to a touristic restaurant. Use WithLocals or AirBnB Experiences to dive into the local culture rather than going to the usual tourist spots.
Obviously speaking English will be a requirement, so learn some basics before going away (Duolingo is great for that!). Once you’re abroad, you can use Google Translate on your phone to translate the menus and anything you don’t understand. Anyway, pretty soon not speaking the language won’t be an issue when you see what Google can do with their latest headphones. I can’t wait to try them out as it means you will be able to understand anything anyone says to you! It won’t be as authentic and fun as trying to understand people and learning words but how convenient!!
One or two generations ago, I could understand that it was hard to travel but now, this is not a valid excuse anymore. And you can do it for pretty cheap if you are organized.
Also, it has never been easier to work remotely. Plenty of jobs and companies give the opportunity to work wherever you want to be. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection! Not into that, be a photographer, an artist, a blogger, a cook… plenty of jobs can be done ANYWHERE!
Be ready to open your eyes
Traveling will make you realize how beautiful our planet is. There are so many amazing things to see in the world, that it seems impossible to see them all. Yes, you could do all the basic touristic stuff but there is so much more to see that you don’t know about.
If budget is an issue, my recommendation here would be simple: explore your surroundings! Wherever you live, there must be nice places around you to visit. I realized this when my wife came to visit my hometown for the first time. It was crazy how amazed she was by the scenery… when for me it was just my boring town, with boring hills and vineyards. When she moved to the south of France with me, she explored all the surrounding areas as much as she could. Just like a tourist would do.
Well, that’s the point, try to be a tourist where you live for a bit, it will change the way you see things around you. Sadly, most of us do not appreciate what we have and where we are. We enjoy our new place at the beginning but it quickly becomes “our home” and then we stop appreciating it. We get trapped in our routine and we don’t take advantage of our time off to visit our region. Most of the time when we go for weekends away or holidays, we try to go far away. But far away doesn’t necessarily mean better! I’m sure in a range of 50 miles/km around you, you could find a nice place to go and visit for the weekend. It will probably end up cheaper than going abroad.
Then when you do go abroad, it allows you to see what you usually see on TV and in documentaries. Discovering the wonders of our world is breathtaking – even if sometimes things look better on TV than they do for real from the ground (we cannot afford a helicopter every time)! Being in nature makes us realize how small and insignificant we can be. It also makes us realize how badly we treat our planet and the other living creatures. Let me give you a personal example: we’ve all heard about palm oil, how hard it is to avoid it but also how bad it is for the environment. Well even if I heard about it, before going to Indonesia, it never really bothered me. Then we saw the reality: idiots burning down the Indonesian rainforests in Borneo – one of the last places on Earth to see wild Orangutans – in order to have more exploitable land to grow palm trees for their business. I was shocked by the view of that, especially from the plane when we saw palm trees fields for miles and miles. The people over there are fighting against it to protect the forest and its animals, but it’s a tough fight! And unfortunately, it’s so hard to avoid palm oil. It’s just everywhere, in food (Nutella), but also in so many daily products such as shampoo, creams etc. It’s a real challenge if you want to avoid it.
Traveling will make you realize how beautiful our planet is. You will come back with unforgettable memories and photographs captured in your head (and your camera, but try to live in the moment and enjoy it through your own eyes!). But I hope you will realize that we need to respect it. You will see for yourself the damages we are doing and it should open your mind to what needs to change if we want to keep it this way. Otherwise pretty soon, there won’t be much left to appreciate (I’m not going to be all pessimistic by saying it’s already too late, let’s have hope!).
Be ready to open your mind
For me, traveling is not about going to a luxurious hotel, going to the restaurant every day and doing all the tourist tours available. Traveling is about discovering a different country, a different culture and meeting different people. It’s about getting away from our daily lives and comfort zones to see what else the world has to offer.
More than the sceneries, I personally find it more interesting to discover new ways of living and new cultures. Back in 2010 when I went to Australia, it hit me how different life was compared to France. How people behave, see each other, live etc. I realized that I was stuck in a tiny corner of the planet, with just a tiny window to look at the world. My opinions, judgments, and ideas were based on what I was seeing around me and influenced by the people around me (and the media). And fuck, let me tell you what a stubborn idiot I was! Meeting my wife was enlightening as she made me realize how close-minded I was. That’s when I decided I wanted to change: I want to see the world with my own eyes and make my own judgments.
In Australia, I realized I was really judgmental about people who were different than what I considered “normal” (= like me). Free life lesson: different doesn’t mean bad. I also discovered a new way to work: you don’t need to wear a tie or do 9am/5pm to be efficient and do good work. You can enjoy your life, be chilled and still do what you are supposed to do (read more about how to work differently in my blog post here). I also met people from the four corners of the planet and noticed that so far my life has been pretty lucky!
The other experience that really struck me was Indonesia. We spent 3 weeks there for our honeymoon in 2016. Our purpose was to see the real Indonesia, so we spent most of our time with locals. That was such a cultural shock! Those people barely had anything compared to us but they gave us more food than we could eat every single day (and believe me, I can eat a lot), and they shared amazing intimate moments with us. They were the poorest but also the most generous and happy people I have ever met in my life. Since then, I totally understand the quote “money doesn’t buy you happiness”. One day we went to a tiny village and met a group of kids, it was the first time they were seeing white people (what a strange feeling it was). They were so excited and happy to see, touch and speak to us. A little girl asked my wife if we wanted to adopt her, how heart-breaking is that!?
But my most unforgettable and traumatizing memory will always be seeing the Kawah Ijen minors. I dedicated a blog post to this strange experience. I can tell you it really puts your life in perspective when you see men going down an active volcano crater, inhaling toxic gas, collecting huge sulfur blocks, then carrying them up the crater and down the volcano… for a maximum of 15$ per day. Believe me, you will think twice next time before complaining about your work or your life!
Traveling will make you re-think what’s normal or not, what’s fair or unfair. It will make you re-think what you have and what you want. You will realize how stupid most of the clichés and assumptions you had about some cultures, countries or people were. You will realize how much you complain about stupid things and you will appreciate what you have a lot more! Traveling will make you re-think your whole life.
Develop new skills
A lot of people start traveling during their education in order to learn a new language (that’s what I did). Going abroad is so much better and more efficient than any class or application if you really want to master a language. What’s great is that you will learn and improve without realizing it, while having fun talking to people (instead of being sat in a boring classroom). You will learn the real language with the right vocabulary (well, apart if you end up with an English girl from the north like I did, and in this case, you’ll speak northern British haha!), talking about interesting, useful subjects… not that useless crap they teach in school.
It will also be a great experience for yourself. When you’re on your own, miles away from anything and anyone you know, you have to take care of yourself. So you will become more autonomous, more adaptable and more curious. You will greatly improve your social skills, which will be a great asset for your future.
The thing is, you don’t even have to go far! If you cannot travel abroad, just go study somewhere else in the country. Being independent will make you grow up. It’s important for your future professional life to be able to do things by yourself as parents won’t always be around!
It really frustrates me when I see students who have the opportunity to go away to do something they would love but instead they decide to stay in their comfort zone around family and friends… What a waste!
Getting out of our comfort zone is more important than ever. We have so many opportunities right now to learn and discover new things, that it would be a waste not to. In plenty of situations in life, we are challenged to do things we don’t know about. There are two ways to deal with it: say no thanks or embrace this opportunity to learn something new and do it! Yes, it might be hard but it will be so rewarding (I explained here why we are formatted to learn for wrong reasons)!
The sooner you get used to challenging yourself in life, the better you will get. It will be beneficial both in your personal and professional life. Try to remember the last time you did something for the first time… remember the excitement you felt, wasn’t it good? Wouldn’t it be nice to feel that more often? So just do it! It will be so enriching! And it will help you a lot in your business life because you will always be ready to take risks and try things which will make you stand out from all the sheep just following orders.
The best school and playground ever
In addition to that, you will learn so much more than any school, website or book can teach you. You are going to meet extraordinary people with memorable stories and lives. You will discover some aspects of religions and cultures you didn’t know about. You will enjoy some amazing foods and will learn how to cook different traditional meals with locals. You are going to discover the wonders nature can offer, learn how to find and recognize plants, birds or other animal species (our guide in the Indonesian rainforest, Febri – check out her company tour if you want to discover the beauty of Kalimantan -, could spot a spider on a tree in the middle of the night at the other side of the river!).
So get out and explore the world around you. You will learn so much more than staying stuck on your sofa, complaining about life and you will grow up as a person! And remember, it doesn’t have to be far. You will see, the richest people are not the happiest and the most enriching.
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