6 Very Good Reasons To Travel
July 13, 2014

6 Very Good Reasons To Travel

I have been writing for the past few weeks about some of my travels this summer. In fact, I write often about my travels and will likely continue to do so as I travel more. I am also a college professor. I believe in the importance of a higher education; however, I believe more strongly that learning can happen through travel just as much as through the traditional experience of a college classroom. I believe that a true higher education is not complete unless students travel and experience life and learning. Really, I believe that travel is integral to lifelong learning.

Along those lines, I recently ran across a blog article on the Huffington Post about six lessons that travel teaches us that college may not be able to replicate. So, as part of my ongoing travel series blogs, I thought I would identify and discuss these six lessons.

1) You are capable of more than you’ve ever imagined.

In all my travels, domestic and international, I think this is a lesson that college cannot duplicate. Sure, when we study hard and work diligently on our education in college, it feels good, but even a really challenging class does not show just how capable we are as human beings. As the Huff Post states, “Travel can turn introverts into extroverts, bring confidence to the meek, and create adrenaline junkies out of thin air; it pushes your physical and mental limits, forcing you to quickly adapt to uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations.” Travel teaches us how to navigate our experiences and how to think quickly, problem solve, and make decisions. It also teaches responsibility. It is both challenging and fun, and through those we learn just how capable we are.

2) People are fundamentally good.

So often we hear on the radio or see on the TV all the bad in the world that it makes us suspect whether there is any good in it. But the truth is that I have experienced the good of people far more than I have the bad. In fact, I have only experienced bad people via the radio, TV, or internet. In my real-world travels, people have been kind, helpful, and excited to do what is good and right. People are more likely to help you when you least expect it especially when traveling.

Yes, there are bad people and bad experiences, but I promise that if you are afraid to travel because you are afraid of people, you should not be. People really are fundamentally good and want what is best.

3) You are but a tiny blip on a giant radar.

“It can be painful at first, but travel will knock that [the idea that we, each individual one of us, is special and important] right out of you. Travel humbles you; it makes you truly realize just how small you are in this great big world.” And you know what? This really is not all that bad. In fact, for me, realizing that I am no more special than others actually helped me connect to the world at large. It made me realize that we are all special together. That being special is a community experience not an individual one, and without our connection together, our talents and importance mean nothing. Travel teaches us to think more about the global connection.

I experienced this when I first went to Europe. My first travels to that continent took me to England and Scotland. What I noticed is that many of the people looked, well, like me. I could have easily slipped into that culture, that is, until I started talking with my obvious American accent. Seeing people who could have been my relatives simply in terms of how they looked taught me to think of myself as a part of the world not just as an America, Okie, or even Clapper.

4) Stereotypes are ridiculous.

Um, yes. So often we are victims – either by choice or force – of the stereotypes thrust onto us by the media, but travel shows us that people are unique and that just because we are a part of a culture does not mean we are all the same. Stereotypes are simply unfair, ridiculous, and, frankly, ignorant.

But travel teaches us that better than anything we read, learn, or do in college. I promise.

5) The world is not a dangerous place.

Danger happens. Yes. Places experience tragedy. Yes. But the US is no safer than other countries just because it is the US. Travel does not necessarily put us in more danger simply because we are out of our homelands. In fact, I would argue to see #1 and # 2 above because even when danger happens, travel teaches us how to navigate that and we learn that people are mostly good.

6) One person can make a difference.

One simple act of kindness can change a bad day to a good one. As the Huff Post writes, “Travel shows you the other side of the coin: how tiny gestures can add up to something truly meaningful. You’ll see that don’t need to save a whole village or solve all the world’s problems to impact lives. Be the difference for one person at a time. Even the small can become mighty.”

Travel teaches us all this in ways that are experiential, transformative, and impacting. Yes, a good education will have both travel and traditional learning. Plus, travel is just fun!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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