Travel teaches you things. We’ve always known that, even if it’s how to say ‘Excuse me’ in Spanish or not to unplug the mosquito repeller in your room. It’s almost impossible to come back from a trip and not feel a little more worldly.
But these days, more and more travellers aren’t just hoping to stumble upon learning opportunities. They’re actively setting out in search of them. Whether it’s writing retreats, surfing classes in Devon or truffle hunting in Italy, travel that teaches you is on the rise. Here are 5 theories for why…
1. We’ve figured out what’s truly important.
Let’s face it, the past few years have given us time to think. We couldn’t go to the movies, the gym, the pub or even our next door neighbour’s garden, but we could hide in our rooms and reflect. People asked the big questions: Am I happy at work? Do I see my family enough? Is my banana bread really what I want to be remembered for?
During our time in isolation, lots of us have realised that self-improvement can be key to a deep and meaningful life. We want to be more organised, more empathetic, to meet great friends. Now that more countries are easing their travel restrictions, we’re seeking out ways to make our mark, ways to expand beyond our four walls, and beyond our borders. Educational travel can expand our minds like little else (and we could all do with a bit of that right now).
2. Remote working opens up doors (and countries).
Picture the scene. Aliens crash land at a beach resort in Barbados. ‘The humans,’ they ask. ‘Why do they wear shirts and ties on their top half, but speedos on the other?’
Because they can, of course. The rise of remote working has made us rethink what’s possible, and it turns out we work just as well (perhaps better) when we’re chilling by the pool as when we’re tucked into the corner of our sweaty office on the eighth floor.
Tourist hotspots around the world are welcoming digital nomads with open arms (and special visas). The success of ‘bleisure’ (business + leisure) means we no longer ask ourselves: Do I travel OR have a successful career? We can do both, with the two things actually complementing each other.
3. We value experiences.
Owning ten sports cars isn’t what it used to be. Most of us hunt down life-changing experiences instead of, well… things.
We see travel as an opportunity to push ourselves, to come away with eye-watering stories we’ll still be telling when we’re 90. When Arnold fell out of the kayak. Or that time on safari when the cheetah almost stole Maria’s sandwiches. As the brand new proverb goes, memories begin when you get up from your sun lounger.
4. We’re human. We can’t ‘switch off’.
Close your eyes and whatever you do, DO NOT think about cornflakes.
Impossible, isn’t it?
It’s often the same with ‘doing nothing’ in an attempt to forget your troubles. You get yourself into position, book in one hand, cocktail in the other, the sun’s at just the right angle, comfy temperature, and then bam… there you are thinking about work, or your cousin’s wedding, or whether you double-locked the door before you left.
For some, the change of scenery is enough. For others, it’s easier to stop worrying about one thing when you’re using your brain power for something new, like remembering the names of the Mountain Gorillas you just saw (in the wild) or the right wine to pair with the fresh Italian truffles you just foraged. Travel that teaches you is also travel that engages you, and puts all the noise to the back of your mind.
5. Learning stuff is cool…
Hands up who WASN’T online shopping for a chess set just minutes after tuning in to The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix? Or digging out your sewing kit after watching Bridgerton?
As more of us venture out into the world, burning for learning, we may well ask ourselves: is it finally cool to be smart? And we’d be dead right.
Looking for travel that teaches you – whilst making you smile? Check out detour, mini adventures in dreamy locations where you can learn from the locals.