Travel Broadens the Mind

If you meet someone from your home town relatively far away by coincidence, you may well say that it is a small world. If you meet someone for a second time, far from where you met the first time, again one of you might comment on what a small world it is. And indeed, if you consider the places frequented by many tourists from a single country, it is not a particularly large world. If you look at this little blue planet, in this relatively small solar system, among the billion or so stars in this medium sized galaxy which we call the Milky Way, among the billions of nameless galaxies in the known universe, then our Earth is infinitesimally small and insignificant. It is indeed a small world. But if you live in a big city then you are perhaps one of a million residents, and that makes you pretty small and insignificant. Compared with you and your humble home, however, that city of a million people and all their homes, all the office buildings, all the schools and shopping centers and parks and roads and cars and stations and trains and so on, is not so small. And that is one million. There are seven thousand million people in this world of ours, and still there are huge areas of sparsely populated jungle, desert and tundra. And two thirds of the planet is completely void of human population. How many thousands of towns and villages are there with populations of less than half a million? How many islands are there? How many beaches? How many mountains? How many rivers? How many valleys?

The Whole Wide World

The answer to the above questions is more than any man or woman has ever seen. And for those who have the time, resources and inclination, there are more than enough to stimulate interest, intrigue, wonder and amazement again and again and again. Those of us who spend most of our lives in one town, visit a few other towns in the same country and a few generic holiday resorts with familiar food and entertainment, limit ourselves to the same habitat and a very narrow range of experiences, which tends to make us relatively narrow minded and closed minded.

Travel makes people realize how much more there can be to life than the routines that most of us live with. Travel makes people understand that the way we live is not the norm for everyone and not necessarily the envy of all those who are different. The Western way of life in a developed country is not necessarily better than a less complicated existence in a developing country, but is often different in more ways than can be imagined or explained, and fascinatingly so if you open your mind to appreciate those people’s values and cultures. There are so many other lives, other environments and other attitudes out there, and to interact with some of them is to enrich our own lives in ways that cannot be quantified. There is so much more to travel than sight seeing.

  • Ethnic groups
  • Languages
  • Traditions
  • Festivals and foods
  • Cultural attitudes
  • Clothes and fashions or trends

A Change of Scenery

As interesting as foreign cultures and languages and cultures can be, just a change of accents and climate can make a refreshing and stimulating change from the usual faces and scenery. Even if you prefer the ease and familiarity of your own language, bear in mind that there are several countries north, south, east and west, near and far, where English is either the first language or spoken by most people as a second language. In the southern hemisphere, for example, the South Africans, Australians and Kiwis all speak languages which sound a lot like English. With just a little extra concentration you will find that you can understand and certainly be understood. Their attitudes and cultures, too, are amazingly similar to those of the northern hemisphere, considering how geographically far apart we are. You don’t need to be careful not to offend people. You can let your hair down, relax and enjoy the change of scenery. Of course it is sunny summer down south when it is miserable winter up north, so the change of climate is usually a very welcome thing. Then there is the difference in locally available goods, their prices, local fruits and many other things. In Australia, for instance, look out for wholesale diamonds in Brisbane, as well as the local brew and seasonal fruits. In New Zealand look out for Maori handicrafts and rugby players performing the Maori Haka before playing with their odd shaped balls. And in South Africa look out for Zulu beadwork as well as the sharks.

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