Learning Through Travel – 2012 Indie Travel Challenge #3

The challenge prompt for Week 3 was Learning Through Travel. The question begs, Have you ever studied or taken classes on a trip? What did you study, and perhaps more importantly, what did you learn while on that trip?  What would you like to learn on your travels this year?

The education obtained from travel far exceeds that of formal education. You can argue it, but I stand by my words. The real teachings of travel happen to us while we are not seeking it. Often we don’t realize what we’ve learned until long after we leave a destination. Those realizations tend to surface during a session of reflection or a subsequent venture. This type of knowledge can’t be gained from reading a book (or thousands of books for that matter) or sitting in on a lecture. They have to be experienced. So what are these awe-inspiring lessons? Well, I can’t verbalize them. Not really. I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s true. Somehow they have always been difficult for me to put into words. It really is a case of “you had to be there”. What I can verbalize, however, is that I attribute 100% of my open-mindedness to my travels. There is no way I would’ve learned to be so adaptive otherwise. I also never fail to discover a great deal about myself, the person I am today, was yesterday and am becoming tomorrow from the people and situations I encounter on the road. It amazes me every time and I love the constant affirmation that I am such a tiny part of this universe. I am always humbled by it, always.

cooking in Chiang Mai

But every learning experience is not so hidden or after the fact, many are intentional. I love learning a new skill when I’m traveling. It makes the experience so much more enriching while making a direct impact on my life. For example, in Thailand I learned to cook authentic Thai food; in New Orleans, southern food. In Bangladesh, I learned to make batik printed sari; in Colorado, snowmobiling; in Massachusetts, horseback riding; in Barcelona, maneuvering a segway; in Cozumel, kayaking and in Vegas, pole dancing (though I probably won’t be putting that skill to use anytime soon). Then there are the set of “will come in handy” skills, like learning to float (which for me was a big accomplishment) in the Bahamas and replacing a roof (while volunteering with Habitat for Humanity) in Hawaii! Maybe I should put all of that on my resume!

Of course there is a 3rd type of lesson we learn on travel, the unexpected ones that derive from the not so happy incidents. Losing my passport in Paris right before my flight home still tops the list. A scary morning that taught me a lesson of a lifetime on how to guard my passport with 110% of my attention. Knock on wood, that mistake has not been repeated twice!


discovering Iceland on my own

But maybe the most important lesson was learning to be alone. Solo travel to Iceland opened up a whole new side of me. I discovered how much I appreciated my own company and became comfortable in my own skin. As a result, I am now a BIG advocate of solo travels! They teach you a 4th set of skills that you will never learn traveling with another human being.

With another 8 months of travel opportunities ahead, I can’t wait to see what conscious and subconscious life lessons I pick up this time.

Wherever you’re headed next, may you have an amazing time acquiring a new skill. Happy Travels!

About Saadia S. Shamsie

Hand me a book & put me on a plane to ANYWHERE -- I'm the happiest girl in the world! Keep me in one place for too long -- I become obnoxiously restless! View all posts by Saadia S. Shamsie

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