Travel as Requirement for a Fulfilled Life

I just spent almost a week in Marrakesh, Morocco with my family. There were cracks in the shells of my kids that remind me that there is nothing like the education of travel.

I could talk, lecture, read, study and even convince and coerce, but nothing is like the experience of travel. Like learning a language or a musical instrument, the earlier you learn, the deeper it sinks in, the easier it is to grow and the more it just becomes a part of who you are rather than just something you do or have studied.

A few questions and comments from my kids off the top of my head from the past week:

  • “What’s Arabic and what’s Muslim? Do the speak Arabic here? Do they speak the same language in the other north African countries?”
  • “If one Euro is worth 10 Dirham, does that mean that the Euro is 10 times stronger? Didn’t you said that the money in Vietnam was thousands to one dollar?”
  • When the horse trainer cowboy only spoke French and my two boys were going to be with him for an hour, it suddenly seemed a little more practical to my 13-year old to pay attention in French class.
  • “That man is selling plastic combs and that’s it. From a crate on the street. Is that his job?”
  • “Are there any rules of the road here?” “That girl doesn’t have a helmet on.”

Each question or comment was worth hours of discussion (or at least a few comments). But probably none of them would have even crossed their minds without having experienced it themselves. Sure, an inquisitive mind can find knowledge from every and any source, but travel is the inverse of formal learning in the eyes of teenagers: it’s difficult to avoid learning.

Perhaps I’m to the point where I give more consideration to how much a person has traveled than how much he or she has studied or worked or earned money or whatever else it is that people measure other people by.

It is beyond a doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience.  — Immanuel Kant

I don’t know the details of it, but the Australians are famous for their “gap year” in which they usually travel abroad for the entire year between high school and university. Although some of them choose to lie on a beach in Phuket, most of them combine the laid-back life with volunteer work or an internship or some other means of giving back to the world.

What is it about travel that you can’t get from books or studies or even others? I think, if I had to bring it down to a single word, it’s perspective.

In my make-believe world, every citizen would be required to travel abroad for a year. They’d have a budget and requirements, but it wouldn’t be ridiculously strict or anything, just enough to make sure they didn’t hang out at the pool at the Hilton and sip margaritas–at least not the entire time. The goal is education and information and knowledge and experience. But without the experience, are the others possible? Perhaps possible, but maybe not probable?

Kids have to go to school. What if kids had to travel?

Thunder Update

It’s been a month of something I said I’d do for 100 weeks. Yeah, so how’s that going?

  • I like the weekly in addition to the daily in that it’s a different rhythm and even has me thinking of a monthly update–also in terms of “What Gets Measured Gets Improved.”
  • I write slightly differently knowing that I’ll also record the episode on audio and share.
  • It helps focus my message and narrow my audience … which could expand both paradoxically.

I don’t have to look for it, but rather it finds me.

What moves me? What rumbles my insides? What stirs my heart? The more I read the news of the world, the more I am assured that taking higher ground is a path that will not only benefit me but those who I can also lift up. Whether you are already strolling on higher ground, jumping and reaching for it or at this point only dreaming of it, I can only believe that continuing to raise the bar is a path towards a future I want to live.

TT04 - Is travel at least as important as formal education in raising well-rounded young adults? [Marrakesh, Morocco]

TT04 – Is travel at least as important as formal education in raising well-rounded young adults? [Marrakesh, Morocco]