Travelling does not necessarily mean travelling abroad; it means travel as much as one can – travel to the next town, to the seaside resort, to the small village, to the countryside, the next state, or the nearest island. It basically implies getting out of the rut, seeing other people, learning about their way of living and thinking, and thus developing a broader and more tolerant outlook towards life. Also, we believe that ‘mind’ is a collection of experiences that enrich a person’s life in ways such as open-mindedness and maturity.
Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, amongst the aristocratic families of Europe, no young man’s education was considered to be complete without travel. They either travelled as companions and employees of rich people, or joined professions which took them abroad. But why was travelling this important at that time? It’s simply because travelling was believed to be the best kind of education. It’s still true even in today’s world. Of course, travel is no substitute for the basic learning of professional knowledge.
But it can be a substitute for other kinds of learning: learning to communicate, learning to live independently, to take care of oneself … When you travel, you get the opportunity of seeing and meeting people at first hand. In Barcelona, there’s a giant temple called La Sagrada Familia which has been under construction since 1882 and its construction work is still ongoing up until now. Its magnificent design is one of its kind in the world.
What’s more, if you get a chance to travel to Pamukkale or Cotton Castle, one of Turkey’s incomparable natural wonders, you will be able to see its cotton-like terraces, unique geological formation and historical remains. So by travelling over these areas, one is not only able to see different kinds of landscapes, architecture and people, but also realizes the importance of heritage preservation. In addition, customs, languages and religious practices differ from place to place. One learns about them and learns to live with and accept the differences.
The truth of it can be seen in multicultural societies like Singapore and Hong Kong where Chinese, Westerners and Filipinos live side by side. It’s truly amazing to see all those different cultures, traditions and religions all blend into one single place. Apart from that, travelling from one corner of Turkey to another is like traversing an entire continent. Therefore, these experiences enhance one’s tolerance and acceptance. Besides learning about the customs of other people and gaining a great deal of knowledge, travel also deals with adaptability.
It is always easy for city-dwellers, like us, to fall into a dull routine: working late into the night, going to bed not until 2 in the morning, starting the next day with a few cups of coffee … Does it ring a bell to you? However, those who travel a lot and are willing to take risks are not so fastidious about the ordinary comforts of life. They make cheerful and pleasant companions. Travel also breaks through religious beliefs and encourages exchange of ideas. Like-minded people come together and become lifelong friends. That is probably the beauty of travelling, I suppose.
Above all, travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection. Just a visit to a rural village in Ethiopia can offer you that. People will likely realize how fortunate they are and wonder at the tenacity of life after some travelling. These kinds of enlightenment, little by little, often add up to something bigger and greater – people becoming voluntary workers; college grads joining the military … Public figures like, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, also got some inspirations from trips they went on before getting involved in charity work.
For instance, Ms. Jolie, together with her husband Brad Pitt, established Jolie/Pitt Foundation which made initial donations to Global Action for Children and Doctors Without Borders of $1 million each. All in all, travel transcends all creeds, races, age and languages. So next time, when you go on a trip, do keep a journal to chronicle your life there. Write something about what you do, see and think, and how you feel. At the end of the day, you’ll discover that you gain more than you could have ever imagined.
Most importantly, avoid going to all those luxury tourist attractions, shopping malls and eateries. Instead, take your time: try the local food, seize your every chance to interact with the locals, pay a visit to the market. This way, you can truly explore its wonderful culture, art, nature, customs, surroundings, architecture and above all else, the people. I believe it’s what a real mind-broadening and life-changing journey should entail.