Planned in the right way, travelling can be about so much more than just crossing places off your bucket list. There is lots to learn when visiting other countries. Open yourself up to new experiences – stay in a local home stay, volunteer with a community charity, get to know the people and the culture of each new place you visit – and you’ll find that you return home, not only with lots of great memories but a lot of new skills too.

Sure, you might learn about Cambodia’s history, the culture of Japan and the geography of South America. But it’s the life skills you learn which can prove important in the long run.

Here are some of the things you can hope to learn on your travels:

Confident Communication

Travelling, particularly if you’re going solo, is a great challenge for your communication skills. Besides the trials of communicating in a foreign language, you will be forced to strike up conversations with near strangers on a daily basis if you are to enjoy any social contact. Finding new friends and building relationships, however fleeting, requires charisma, good body language and confidence. These are skills that will prove equally useful back at home. It can help you face that college interview, network at work or meet new people with new-found poise and self-assurance.

How to Cope in a Crisis

Anyone who has travelled extensively has come across their fair share of tricky situations. Getting your bag robbed in a city centre street, finding that the train you were hoping to catch doesn’t leave until next week or struggling to find accommodation during a fiesta are all problems you may have to overcome. Facing these trials, working through them and deciding on the best course of action helps you to develop your organisational skills in tough and new situations.

A New Language

Immersing yourself in a culture is a great way to learn a foreign language. Pushing yourself to communicate in that language every day and hearing it used in real life situations all around you can be much more useful to your language abilities than studying in a classroom. Even if learning a language isn’t the main purpose of your trip, it can make your travels far easier and interesting as you organise transport and accommodation from place to place and engage with the locals in their native language.

How to Prioritise

When you’re travelling you need to determine what is essential and what you can do without. You can’t carry everything in that one backpack, nor can you always afford to choose the most comfortable mode of transport or accommodation. You will make difficult decisions on a daily basis and learn to prioritise what is most important. Being able to manage your time and your resources in this way is a key skill for education, work and your day to day life.

Different Ways of Life

Sitting at home in the familiar surroundings you grew up in, your perspective on life is unlikely to be challenged all that often. Travelling, you get to see how people around the world choose (or are compelled) to live their lives. You see where their priorities lie – how they view work, family, education, the environment – and how this compares to your experiences at home. Understanding that there isn’t just one way to do things opens your mind to a whole host of possibilities. Your ability to question, analyse and innovate will be greatly enhanced.

Travelling can expose you to new ideas and provide valuable learning experiences, how you choose to apply that learning is up to you. Whether you learn a new language, find new ways to approach life, or simply be a more confident individual, the skills you gained throughout your travelling adventures will be there to help you for the rest of your life.

Author: Tess Pajaron is a zealous traveller who loves to explore new destinations and discover local cuisines. She works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading provider of online courses.
Image is authors own.

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