Not all education can and should happen within the classroom. Sometimes, traveling is the best form of education, as students can get a number of personal and educational benefits from travel. From learning about other cultures first-hand to seeing where historical events took place with their own eyes, educational travel gives students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of art, science, history, and culture in ways they never have before. But the benefits of student travel go far beyond the actual subjects taught during the trip. A wonderful article by son-tours.com shared 10 ways that that students traveling domestically and abroad benefit from their journeys.
#1. Enhanced Curriculum
Education becomes a whole new experience when students can see the Colosseum for themselves or see the tools and equipment scientists used in decades or even centuries past to make discoveries that make our modern world possible. Regardless of what subject students are going to study, there are a number of experiences in dozens of ideal locations to deepen their learning and make it much more “real” to them. Educational travel brings the material off the pages and into reality, allowing students to connect to it in a stronger and more meaningful way.
#2. Cultural Learning
When students travel, they learn that there are people out there who live life a bit differently, and those cultural differences aren’t defined by national borders. There are cultural differences within one’s own country as well; ask any Southerner who has ever been to New York, or any New Yorker who has traveled to California. Whether traveling abroad or within their own country, students can learn about how different people live their lives, eat their food, and so much more, but they will also learn that people aren’t so different, either. They’ll also probably find a number of cultural similarities when they travel and find ways to break down barriers between themselves and those they once classified as “other.”
#3. Broaden Culinary Horizons
No matter where students go, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll find some kind of food that is unique to that place or done better there than anywhere else. If someone gets Chicago-style pizza in Chicago or bagels in New York City, they’re going to have a different tasting experience than they would if they were getting the same type of thing in, say, Texas. At the same time, getting chili in Texas would be a whole different experience from getting chili in New York or Chicago. Eating Italian cuisine in the U.S. is going to be different than eating Italian food in Italy. Students can learn a lot about a culture by what they eat on a daily basis and what they consider a special meal, so it’s good to take a taste of the local cuisine and learn through all of the senses.
#4. Better Classroom Experiences
They say that if you want to learn about someone, you should travel with them. When students go on an educational trip, they spend a great deal of time with their classmates and teachers and learn a great deal about the people they may not have spent as much time with otherwise. They also engage with the classroom material much more after the fact. Reportedly, teachers feel that middle and high school students who return from these trips participate more in class and have higher test scores. In short, better classroom experiences and atmosphere can be a recipe for deeper learning long after the educational trip is over.
#5. Compassion and Empathy
When students can see how other people live their lives, they learn so much about being able to see through another’s perspective, building their capabilities for compassion and empathy. After all, as previously mentioned, traveling students learn that cultures may have several differences, but they also learn that people from other cultures aren’t so entirely different. When they travel, they learn so much about other people and the world is no longer full of “other” people, but just people, and the world starts to feel like it, as a whole, is home.
#6. Improve Social Skills
Most people don’t realize that a hidden benefit of student travel is the improvement of social skills. When students travel abroad, no matter how shy they are, they have to learn to stick together as a group and talk to others to get to where they need to go. They’ll also have amazing opportunities to meet new people. Realistically, it’s very difficult to avoid talking to others when students have to rely on each other, their teachers, their group leaders, and the locals in order to get around properly, and it can do wonders to improve those social skills and help them overcome social anxieties.
Being away from family, home, and familiar ground is a courageous and independent adventure in its own right. Educational travel provides that opportunity to allow students to open their minds regarding how they choose to live life, which can be extraordinarily helpful in preparing students for college and adulthood. Traveling – with the combined social skills and perspectives it teaches – really allows students to better understand how they can operate on their own.
Students who travel with their schools learn group management and leadership skills in a unique way. They learn that not everyone will always get along, but they learn how to work with people they don’t get along with to make the trip enjoyable regardless. They learn that people they may not have thought they would get along with actually turn out to become great friends. They also learn how to move and work together as a group to accomplish a goal, even one as simple as getting to the next destination.
#9. Travel Skills
Another benefit of student travel is learning travel skills in a safe environment with a group, rather than learning them all on their own. From learning to pack light and focus on the necessities to understanding how, sometimes, they’ll need to improvise when they travel, there’s a lot to keeping a travel plan together, especially for a large group. They’ll see group leaders and chaperones doing just that and likely have opportunities to practice their own travel skills. Not to mention that they’ll learn about travel budgeting, asking for help, and travel safety at the same time.
#10. Increased Self-Awareness
Middle and high school students are often going through a time of heightened self-discovery and a need to figure out who they are and where they belong in the world. By giving them the opportunity to travel, you provide them with the opportunity to gain a level of mindfulness that they would not have otherwise. They see themselves in a new light and learn that the world is bigger than they thought but also smaller, and they gain new insight into who they want to be as a person and where they want to be in the future.
Help Your Teen Realize the Benefits of Traveling
All of the CERTS Programs plan student travel trips including domestic and international travel. Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy (MSPA) has yearly trip to Washington DC to learn about our government and to visit historical sites. A International Trek is provided for students in Southern Utah CERTS Programs including MSPA, Kolob Canyon and Moonridge Academy. These trips are planned and executed by the MSPA Head of School Jon Larsen. Past trips have included 2 weeks in New Zealand, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the British Isles. In March 2018, the International Trek included 2 weeks traveling in Italy visiting the Vatican, museums and churches. This trip also included hikes and other sightseeing experiences. LaEuropa Academy provides a humanitarian parent/child trip on an annual basis. In 2017 this trip was to Belize and in 2018 the trip will be to Napal. Kolob Canyon will be taking a alumni parent/child trip to Peru to visit Machu Picchu.