Experience is often the best teacher. If that phrase holds true, then travel may be the best way to gain a varied collection of experiences. The world is as varied as it is massive, and new ways of life can be as close as the farm in Pennsylvania, or as far as the jungle tribes of the Amazon. Opening your eyes to new cultures, new modalities of living can motivate a growth of character and spirit that would otherwise go unmoved. It’s for precisely this reason that educational travel has grown to prominence.
Built on the idea of taking “non-tourist” trips around the world, educational travel is not about collecting souvenirs or visiting the next Disney, but rather the gathering of experiences. One of the many benefits of this process is that it usually costs less than your traditional vacations. Tourist traps, for lack of a better term, are aware that they are massive draws for crowds, and thusly raise their prices to make some extra money. When comparing educational travel to a vacation, it’s best to compare the cost of visiting Florida against a stay at Disneyland.
Children benefit greatly from this process, as well. The days of week-long family trips is all but a memory, and the modern family cannot escape the screens that follow us in our pockets, but they can take the family on a trip that can offer more than what can be seen through a tiny screen. Though most of the world can fit in the palm of their hands, children light up when shown the wondrous world in real life. Facebook and Instagram pale in comparison to the wild Sahara or the jungles of Asia. Bring them to the historical sites that have since become fodder for countless movies, and show them their heroes carved into living rock.
As said by the eternal Maya Angelou, “travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” The concept of the Global Citizen is far from fantasy.