The great Christian theologian – Saint Augustine regarded by many as the first theologian of the Christian faith – once wrote: the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
Many of us yearn to spread our wings and reap the benefits of international travel. Some of us may be scared and many of us do not even know how to begin planning such an endeavour. However, there are many benefits to international travel that we often take for granted.
These challenges should not prevent us from making the journey. At the end of the day, many people feel a deep sense of accomplishment when they finish reading a book.
Some of us live in a large country, others live in a country that is part of a large continent while some live on an island where they feel that they already experience all that the world has to offer.
International travel is embracing the ancient Chinese proverb of the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It is taking that step out of the door with adventure in your heart and an ambition to go beyond the borders of your country to gain a new experience.
When embarking on this endeavour, make sure that you make use of a tourist SIM card.
How you travel abroad is part of the adventure.
When I graduated from high school, my family planned a trip to Mozambique. Road tripping through the rolling hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal into Eswatini and finally into Mozambique helped me appreciate the beauty of our continent. It also helped me form a closer relationship with my cousins as we travelled together for many hours.
The most popular mode of travelling abroad is flying. Leonardo da Vinci once said: once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. Flying is travelling into the unknown with no warning of what to expect when you land. You are assaulted by sights, sounds and smells that are a stark contrast from the cabin you have just spent so much time in.
Before the days of airline travel, one of the most luxurious modes of traveling abroad was by train. The Blue Train in South Africa and the Trans-Siberian Railway are some of the most famous railway lines known today.
And finally, there is nothing like a cruise across the ocean to complete your bucket list of modes of international travel.
Travelling is a logistical undertaking as much as it is an experience. Before you travel overseas, make sure that you have a valid passport and make sure that you know what the visa requirements are for the country that you are travelling to.
You then need to make sure that you plan your trip properly. This includes accommodation, transportation, communication options to make sure that you remain connected when travelling, appropriate clothing for the country that you are travelling to as well as an army of apps that will allow you to plan your trip on your feet once you have reached your destination.
Further reading: Top 110 Best travel apps.
Most of us have a mobile phone and the majority of these mobile phones or tablets are smart devices that are able to connect to WI-FI networks. However, there is a risk of this because of the dangers of performing important transactions such as banking on a public WI-FI network.
It is recommended that you either enable international roaming on your mobile before travelling abroad or that you purchase a travel SIM card. This is because sharing your experience with your loved ones is part of the fun and there is a possibility that you will encounter an emergency when travelling abroad.
If this happens, make sure that you know how to respond to these emergencies. Further reading: Travel emergency tips (Prepare & deal with an emergency abroad).
The first travel benefit is that you are able to experience new things.
I grew up in South Africa and enjoyed a childhood filled with typical South African experiences. However, an experience that changed my life was going on a desert safari in the Arabian Desert when I travelled to Dubai after university.
You journey begins and a five-star luxury hotel after which you are transported into the wilderness surfing on massive sand dunes in an offroad vehicle. As the sun sets, you reach a Bedouin camp and are greeted with Arabic coffee and a night of festivities under a tapestry of stars that you never knew existed.
These experiences will change your life forever.
I ended up extending my stay in Dubai for two years and made many new friends who welcomed me into their homes and taught me their language. I also had the opportunity to teach them my culture and South African languages.
Learning or practicing a new language broadens your horizons and helps you navigate other parts of the word that you may want to explore on a future trip.
It also helps to know the language of the destination you are visiting when you are faced with a travel emergency.
Most of us begin our travelling journey with our parents/family. However, it is a rite of passage in some cultures for children who are coming of age to embark on a journey by themselves.
Faced with navigating the streets of a city that you do not know where the people speak a language that is foreign to you forces you to rely on your own strengths and a resilience that you thought you never had. You want to experience this trip your way and armed with determination, you will make this work.
No man is an island is the most famous work by English Author John Doone. The premise of the book is that no person is entire self-sufficient. It is human nature to rely on others.
Interaction with different people provides you with a better insight into yourself. It forces you appreciate where the other person is coming from, and it forces you to work on communication skills that you may need when entering the workplace.
While many parts of the world speak English, it is important to note that this is largely limited to major cities. If you travel to the rural parts of the country you are visiting, you may encounter some difficulties.
While there is an app that can help you navigate this, connectivity in rural areas is not always guaranteed. Travelling forces, you to slow down and work past the frustration of your message not being immediately understood. You will reap the benefits of this is later life.
Why not take a much-needed summer vacation? Further reading: Top 10 Best places to visit in summer.
Many of us will live at home until they get their first job. In today’s environment, children living at home with their family is not unheard of as there is a need to share the costs of living. The disadvantage of this is that you tend to exist within your comfort zone sharing experiences that are familiar to you.
Finding yourself in the middle of Times Square or Shibuya Crossing needing to find your way to the subway or bullet train and then making sense of the trains timetable can be a harrowing experience. However, it forces you to find your resilience and leave your comfort zone to become self-sufficient.
Many of us grow up in big cities where there is limited interaction with nature. Some of us grow up in the country and want to travel to a big city where there are some unique ecosystems.
Travelling helps you appreciate nature and the delicate balance of a world that existed before humans. A trip into the Teutoburg Forest transports you back into a world where the Germanic Tribes used the landscape as a tactical advantage when defeating the Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
Why not take a much-needed winter vacation? Further reading: Top 10 Best places to visit in winter.
There is nothing wrong with existing within your comfort zone. However, for some people it does leave them wondering what they are actually capable of.
Travelling not only forces you to experience new things or find a level of resilience/ self-sufficiency that is needed in these situations, but extended travel also forces you to embark on a voyage of self-discovery experiencing the country you are visiting your way living life the way you choose.
Walking into the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is a feast for the senses. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Asia hit you making you wonder why it has taken so long to encounter this experience.
In many countries, their culture (and love) is expressed through food. Sampling new food provides you with a window into a world that you never knew existed. It makes you appreciate why Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeu Dias worked so hard to travel around the Cape of Good Hope finding a new way to travel to India to purchase spices.
Many countries are melting pot of many cultures and experiencing this broadens your horizons.
A trip to New Zealand may see you befriend a person of Māori or Polynesian decent who will welcome you into their home where you will experience life through their eyes.
On my trip to Mozambique, I was forced to experience a country where its citizens did not have the privileges that I had, yet they were happy with the life that they had. Developing a cultural sensitivity makes you aware of how you live your life. It may alter some of your actions, but it will certainly make you appreciative of the luxuries/privileges that you experienced in the past.
Many people travel to make a difference.
The growth of Christianity in Africa was done off the back of missions. These missions were run by nuns and priests but also by volunteers who visit the mission for a short period of time to lend a helping hand.
In countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, elephants’ tourism was a major draw card. These elephants now live in sanctuaries where tourists can spend time caring for the animals.
Similar to travelling to go on a voyage of self-discovery, travelling can enhance your creativity.
Perhaps you have been stuck in the same old boring routine for too long? Perhaps you are finding that your job is menial and that you are not getting any joy or fulfilment out of it. Whatever the reason, travelling resets your batteries and allows you to gain a fresh perspective on life.
Travelling may also provide you with the inspiration that you need to start writing that journal you have been putting off for years. Perhaps you have been planning to pen your memoir, but haven’t found the time or mental space to do so? There is no time like the present.
Europe is seen as the historical heartland of the world.
Rich in culture and tradition, you can travel to Rome and visit the Coliseum where gladiators fought for entertainment. Travel to the outskirts of the city and you may find yourself at the exact spot where a legionary shouted Hannibal ad portās which was the start of one of the many sieges of Rome.
A trip to England may find you in Hastings where a significant battle was fought between the English and Viking invaders. Stirling in Scotland is the site of a significant Scottish victory in the Wars of Independence as is Bannockburn.
Why not take a much-needed spring vacation? Further reading: Top 10 Best places to visit in spring.
We have all dealt with significant stress over the past two years. Some of us have lost family members and loved ones, others have lost their jobs. Perhaps your child is struggling to cope with the mental stress that the Covid Pandemic has caused?
While travelling is a stressful endeavour, sitting on a beach at Club Med in Mauritius or on a beach in Ko Samui in Thailand allows you to unwind as lazy days by the water with a cocktail in hand loosens the knots in your body and allows you to put off your stress for a week or three.
My uncle was a scuba diver. From a very young age, I wanted to be under the water, so when I turned 16, I did my diving course and began my own adventure under water.
A particular dive in Mozambique will be a memory that I will never forget. We dived at the world-famous Manta Reef where manta rays line up and allow hundreds of wrasses to clean the bacteria off them. The sight is an efficient conveyer belt of cleaning which displays natures beauty in all its glory. It is memories such as these that are ever lasting and stick with a person for the rest of their lives.
Why not take a much-needed fall vacation? Top 10 Best places to visit in fall.
One of the main deterrents for travelling at the moment may be the fact that the world is facing a cycle of rising inflation which places discretionary spending under significant pressure.
Many countries rely on tourism as a significant economic driver and are in desperate need for travellers to come back to their country. Travelling does not always mean five start hotels and Michelin Star meals. Travelling can be done on a budget and if you use the right travel apps, you can maximise your experience while minimising your spending.
There is a reason why the proverb: there are many fish in the sea exists. Throughout history, there are examples of people who have travelled abroad and found love on the way.
There is something romantic about meeting a complete stranger and falling in love with them while sharing experiences about your lives and how you view life. Many places like Paris and Venice pride themselves on being destinations where people fall in love with each other. Be sure to put a lock on the railings of a bridge that crosses over the Seine River.
The famous Wild West gunfighter – Doc Holiday – was confined to living in dry arid states at the end of his life to manage his deteriorating health (which was caused by tuberculosis).
Many of us live in big cities where there are high levels of pollution. While there is a global movement to address this, the only way that a person can completely avoid this is to take a trip outside of the city and into the countryside. Perhaps you need some fresh mountain air or some vitamin D while catching some sun rays on that beach in Mauritius or Thailand?
Through technology, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. Building up a global network of experts can help you get that job promotion you have been eyeing. Perhaps It can help you solve a logistical challenge that has been caused by the global supply chain crisis.
Travelling allows you to meet people who have a similar interest to you. These people may also be invested in helping you achieve success.
The world is bigger than the bubble that you exist within.
We all live with unconscious biases that are developed and nurtured in our daily lives and within the communities that we live in. When we travel, these biases get challenged and we are confronted with the fact that people do live life differently to us and that life is very normal to them.
Travelling in past was expensive. However, travelling abroad does not mean luxury hotels or meals. Making use of a travel app can guide you towards affordable accommodation and experiences. Also bear in mind that many of the resorts that you may be considering offer all inclusive packages which cover food and beverages.
It is important that you plan your trip properly. This can either be done through a travel agent or by using various travel apps. Before you travel abroad, make sure that you have a valid passport and make sure that you know what the visa requirements are for the country that you are travelling to.
Make use of WI-FI that is supplied at most hotels or bed and breakfast establishments. Most restaurants and coffee shops have public Wi-Fi networks but be sure to limit your usage over these networks. Alternatively, make sure that you have international roaming enabled on your mobile or make use of a travel Sim card.
While experiencing new food is a major benefit of travelling, it is important to note that most travel emergencies that are medical in nature are food related. Make sure that you know how your dish is prepared and what ingredients are used to prepare your dish in case it contains ingredients that you are allergic to. If you have a chronic illness like diabetes, make sure you are wearing a medical bracelet that will help first responders. Finally, make sure you have travel insurance which will cover most of the cost of a medical emergency.
English is spoken in most countries. However, this may be limited to tourist cities and destinations. If you are travelling into the rural areas of the country that you are visiting, it is recommended that you know a few key phrases to help you navigate any situation.