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Why (not) travel?
Member Name: lellagrace
Why (not) travel?
Date: 02/08/07, updated on 02/08/07 (88 review reads)
Advantages: Broadens the mind
Disadvantages: Not everyone appreciates travel
The school holidays are here and hordes of families will be travelling abroad for the summer vacation. What upsets me though is hearing someone saying "oh we are only going to Scarborough this year" or some other British resort. What is wrong with that? It is almost as though people holidaying in Britain feel as though they have to apologise for the fact that they are not travelling abroad.
And let's face it, the cost of a British holiday is extortionate! It doesn't surprise me that people go abroad when hotel accommodation here costs so much. There really isn't any reason to apologise for holidaying at home! It probably means you are rich!!!
NEVER BEEN ABROAD
Surprisingly I know several people who have never ventured overseas. Some of them are the older generation who were used to having a week at the seaside once a year. Living in the north, anyone who went "down south" for their holidays was considered very fortunate and if they went "to the continent" then they were luckier still!
Today most of us have grown up having foreign holidays and it is almost a novelty to holiday in this country. But we should bear in mind that there are still a lot of people who don't even have a passport.
My colleague has never been abroad and she is nearing pension age. I suggested she should book a package holiday and she was terrified! What should she wear? Would it be too hot? What about foreign food? Would she be scared of flying? All these things were problems to her, whereas to a 5 year old they are the norm!
WHY GO ON HOLIDAY?
My parents never went abroad, except for a school trip to France that my father went on when he was 16. They could afford an expensive holiday anywhere in the world, but they were quite content, as were a lot of their generation, to spend their holidays in the UK. They had never been to Scotland until my husband and I took them, but they didn't mind. This attitude is not unusual amongst older people even today.
Maybe it is a throwback to the times when they couldn't afford a holiday. When I was growing up we always had one week at the seaside in the summer and we looked forward to this from the moment it was booked, usually in January, but my parents had to save hard.
Just as people today feel they have to apologise if they don't go abroad, at that time people who were not going away for a week felt the same. They would have day trips to the seaside instead of staying there.
I think we have made progress in respect of holidays. The world seems a much smaller place as it is more accessible now. When I was a child my dream was to go to USA to visit relatives, the 300 GBP for the airfare was way beyond our means and it took me years before I achieved my dream. The flight cost the same as it would have done all those years ago, but of course was ridiculously cheap in comparison.
Booking months in advance is something I rarely do as nowadays with the internet, it is possible to book at the last minute. I like to act impulsively and just decide I want to go off somewhere, then look for cheap flights and take myself off.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Well, for a start whenever I go to a foreign country I make sure I know a few words of the language. Even if I can only say "please" and "thank you" I know the locals will appreciate that I have made an effort.
If I have an idea in advance that I want to visit a particular country then I will start learning the language in preparation. I have a smattering of various languages because of this and a good knowledge of others. The only language I have struggled with is German! I just cannot manage those long words and gutteral sounds!!!!
Apart from the language, I like to learn something about the customs of the country I am visiting. If at all possible I like to avoid the touristy areas and find where the locals hang out. This can be an education in itself.
You may discover a new sport or a new hobby or interest, just because you were travelling and became curious.
Over the years I have made lots of friends, of many nationalities, through my travels. This has benefitted us all in that we are able to visit each other's countries, learn about them and of course, with e mail, communication is so much easier. Another benefit of this is that some people who have never used a computer are now keen to learn so they can e mail.
This happened to a friend of mine, who is useless at letter writing, but was determined to keep in touch with a certain Greek man she had met while travelling. She learnt to use a computer and now, not only their friendship, but a romance, is blossoming! Maybe meeting the man or woman of your dreams is another possibility that travel offers!
Once on a visit to Spain I wanted to mix with the local people as I was on an intensive language course, so a friend and I made out way to a remote village. The streets were filled with men as we arrived in the late afternoon, the only women around were on the balconies of the houses.
Unsure what to make of this we made our way to a local bar and once again I was the only woman there! We got chatting to some of the locals, we had to find out why they were giving me such strange looks if nothing else. With our new knowledge of Spanish we discovered that a funeral had taken place and apparently it was the custom in that area that only men attended! So it is amazing what you learn from travelling!
I know there is a lot of controversy about children being taken on holiday in term time, but as long as they don't do this too often I really don't see this as a problem. Travelling abroad can be very educational for a child if it is approached sensibly.
They can learn a lot about geography by finding where they are going on a map. Although, I have known kids state they are going to Benidorm and when asked where this is their reply is "Spain, I think". Ask them to show you where Spain is on the map and they have no idea! So if you are taking your kids on holiday, give them a geography lesson beforehand. Help them find out about the currency, the exchange rate, the time difference, the national flag, local foods etc.
TOWNS AND CITIES
As the kids grow up, book a cheap flight, (maybe as a birthday treat if you can't think what else to buy them) and take them to the towns and cities to appreciate more of the culture. Visiting cities, whether abroad or at home, is a must when travelling I think.
I went to Milton Keynes for the first time a few weeks ago - nothing to impress me, but I now know what a "new town" looks like and I couldn't believe I was actually seeing concrete cows "grazing" in a field!!!!! Travel can certainly be an eye opener sometimes!!!
I have already mentioned about learning a language, it is never too early to start. Some friends of ours took their 3 year old to France recently and the little girl was able to ask for "deux baguettes svp" with confidence. Teach your kids a few words of the language, the younger they are the better. Teenagers will be self conscious about trying out their language skills, but at the same time they will soon find out what some of the words mean and this might help with their studies at school.
Actually visiting a place is far more educational than just learning from a text book.
BROADEN THE MIND
Travel broadens the mind, you meet people from different cultures, of different nationalities. You forget about stereotypes as you learn to mix with people from different races. Even with limited language skills there are ways of understanding each other. This in itself is a valuable lesson in communication skills.
I always keep a travel diary, even if I am just going for a day out in the UK I make a note of where I have been and jot down any interesting facts. With the aid of digital photography it is possible to produce a very interesting travel journal and I would suggest parents encourage their children to do this. If nothing else, such a diary will prove to sceptical teachers that taking your child on holiday in term time has had some educational benefits.
CONSTANT LEARNING PROCESS
I think travel is a constant learning process. Wherever you go there is something new to find out. If you are not sure, then look back on your own holidays and see what your memories are. Hopefully they will be something more than just sitting on the beach all day and in the bar all night!
But remember - there is a difference between "travelling" and "holidaying". You might travel for business but it can still be educational in a different way.
I was talking to an old man some time ago who told me that every year when it was the local holiday week, he took his wife and kids to the seaside. They happened to be there when war was declared and the children had great fun filling sandbags! Even though they were too young to appreciate what was going on at the time, these kids (now almost pensioners themselves!) still remember this and it helped them to understand something about the war.
ENJOY YOUR HOLS!
If you are about to set off on your hols after reading this, then do bear in mind that you are not just going off for a break, but for the experience! Have a great time - you may come back poorer in the pocket, but wiser in the head!
Summary: Travel of any kind is educational for everyone