Learning Through Travel

A traveler without observation is like a bird without wings.

– Moslih Eddin Saadi

This week’s travel challenge questions what we have learnt or hope to learn through travel this year.

My past travel experiences have all been relatively short trips to European countries, which I already knew quite a bit about. Naturally, I still picked up information about the places I visited but all of that you can find through a quick search on Wiki anyway. No, the real learning happens when you start to realise just how capable you are when left to your own devices. So far the best opportunity I’ve had to put this into practice would be a road trip I took from Malta to France with a friend (which I have been meaning to blog about for a while – must get to that!). Being stuck in a car for long stretches of time and with the same person 24/7 doesn’t always bring out the best in you. Some of the negative things I found out about myself:

  1. I am not a nice person in the morning
  2. A hungry Hannah is a cranky Hannah

My poor friend thought I was in a bad mood with her on more than one occasion when in fact it was a case of morning-itis or hunger. Sorry, Atlantis! But now I know to keep my distance from people in those situations … or at least to issue a warning.

On a positive note, I learnt:

  1. I can read a map. I’m slow at it and I have to turn the map all sorts of odd ways but I can do it!
  2. I can manage a cold shower. Just about. If I have to.
  3. I am resourceful. No way was I going to let a silly language barrier get in the way of me and a decent cup of tea 😉 Charades and phrase books, here I come!
  4. Exploring new places makes me incredibly happy
  5. I have no problem striking up conversation with strangers

All the above skills are going to be of great use to me when I finally head out on The Big Trip.

The trip I am planning is going to involve a decent amount of time in Africa, India and Southeast Asia. At first I chose those destinations without putting much thought into it but after a few “Why?” questions from friends, I realised that taking time out to travel is not just about taking a break from work and my daily routine but it’s about the issue at hand today: learning. I want to put myself in a position where I am faced with new challenges every single day – from learning everyday tasks to understanding cultural differences, picking up languages and pushing myself to my limits.

Last year I came across two exceptional videos which I posted here. I think this is a good time to revisit this one:


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