Pick up a world atlas or simply browse it online. Go to the map of your state or province and see how small your area compares to the entire state. Now go to a map of your country and although your area may disappear, your “major” state or province becomes a small part of the country. Continue to a map of your continent. This time, you may not find your state or province, and your “big” country becomes a small part of your continent. Turn to finish on the map of the world and what do you notice? Your country may not disappear, but your “big” continent becomes a “fraction” of the world.
This exercise shows that you increase your world view more and more as you travel further.
The most important events of the past century and especially the explosion of the internet in recent decades have made you aware of the diversity of the world. No matter how well-informed you are about the world from your sofas or armchairs, nothing beats trips to those places for first-hand experiences.
So in the following sections, we are going to see some reasons why you have to travel a lot.
1. You not only get to know great places but also experience them
The media (newspaper, radio, television, internet), people and books show and tell about great places. But only by traveling can you really “feel” the great places of the world, such as the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, India; Venice (Italy) with its gondoliers and their crafts on the many waterways; the pyramid of the sun in San Juan Teotihuacan, not far from Mexico City, Mexico; Downtown Casablanca (Morocco), the main port, with Place Lyautey in the foreground; Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, and the Southern Alps across Lake Matheson, on the South Island; the American Falls near Niagara Falls, New York; and a typical mosque in Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago).
2. You get to know many different people, and as they really are
Traveling is a great way to expand your circle of friends and increase your understanding of others.
My many travels have allowed me to make many intimate friends in many countries of the world. The close relationships we’ve had wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
When I lived in Africa, I barely came into contact with white people (and never even thought about it) because we lived in different communities that were inherited from colonialism. But when I went to Germany, for example, I made many friends with whom I shared many beloved moments. This caused my perception of whites as aloof or all racially crumbling.
Some time ago I saw a TV documentary by a French television crew who went to Mali (Africa) to film an illiterate mechanic, completely disassemble, repair and reassemble the engine of an old car. When the roaring car disappeared into the fading distance, they concluded that the Africans were also capable of technological and engineering achievements.
Many such cases exist to break down barriers built up through false perceptions and make people appreciate each other.
3. You get to see more cultures and customs and are better able to deal with different people
I once visited a friend in a rural zone in the north of Ghana, a neighboring country. As was customary, he had to take me to all members of his extended family. I was surprised that we were well served in the first place. But bigger was my surprise to be equally well-received in the other two places. We came back to my friend’s house with him disappointed with me and too full and anger at him for not even giving me a hint as to what to expect.
In fact, in my friend’s area, it is an obligation to serve a visitor food and an honor if the visitor eats well. So I did honor to the first house and less to the second. But my inability to eat at the third was seen as not appreciating their meal and my decision to cut off the visits, shame on my friend with his relatives.
This habit exists to some extent in my environment. Every visitor should be given water to drink before asking the reason for their visit. But you are not obliged to drink some or all of the water if you don’t feel like it. You just take a sip or touch the container (cup, gourd, etc.) and your behavior is not interpreted as snobbery. But saying no is tantamount to “insulting” your host.
4. You broaden your horizon
An American friend came to visit me in Togo and I took him to Région des Plateaux, the famed tourist centre of my country. This is also the agricultural zone of Togo. We visited a farm where one can buy fruits harvested right before one.
“Is this a real pineapple?” my friend asked, staring strangely at the fruit the farmer had sliced from the plant and handed to him.
“Why?” I asked in surprise.
“It wasn’t harvested from a big tree,” he said lamely.
I laughed my head off.
“For its size and weight, I thought pineapples grew on trees,” flushed, my friend explained.
The curious farmer laughed his head off too when I explained our conversation to him. He offered to show my friend pineapple plants at various stages of development.
In the same way, you love mutton but I think you will appreciate it more when you visit a sheep herding region in Australia, for instance; the same is true for cotton clothes when you visit the cotton farms of Sao Paulo in Brazil; coffee when you see farmers drying coffee under the tropical sun in Colombia; chocolate when you witness farmers removing the nuts from the pods (the first stage of processing chocolate) at a cocoa plantation in Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa); canned pineapples when you see pineapples on their way to the cannery in Puerto Rico, etc.
5. You experience another environment
Germany was the first European country I had visited. My ardent desire in winter was to see, and especially experience, snow. One dark winter night, an excited friend called to tell me snow was falling. I jumped out of bed, rushed outside and arms outstretched tried to catch the flakes falling from the sky. A passing German couple walking their dog flashed me amused smiles.
While I hate the “harmattan,” the dry hot wind which blows from the Sahara right down to the coast of West Africa, bringing a lot of dust and making the mornings and evenings chilly and the day scorching, a French expatriate friend found it exotic because of the fog it brings in the morning and the hue in the evening.
6. You live “great” world history
You may feel awe on hearing about (from a person or on the radio) or seeing (in the newspaper, on the television or the Internet) the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal of India, the ancient buildings (castles, cathedrals, chateau) of Europe, museums, the castles of West Africa (slave history), the plantations of America (slave history), monasteries, and the great standing tree sculptures of the Indians of America, but a visit to the places where they are found is a totally different experience.
7. You get hospitable climates
Well-to-do people in tropical climates often go overseas when the hot climate becomes torrid and it is not a secret for anybody that people in temperate climates also rush to places where they can enjoy the sun and the warm sea.
There are many other reasons why people should travel far and wide. But I think these 7 are enough to let you pack your luggage if you had never gone on a journey or pick up your baggage again soon if you have been on one.
You don’ have the money to travel?
Maybe you are not working yet (you’re a student or out of work) or you don’t earn much so you cannot go on a journey. Don’t worry. You can earn it through simple work from home opportunities you can do in your spare time. These include data entry, taking surveys, signing up for affiliate businesses, doing MLM, network marketing, freelance writing, call centre agent, etc.
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