Through the Eyes of an Educator: Simple Travel Joys

by Stacey Ebert / Mar 03, 2020 /
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When do you get excited for a trip? The minute you book it, when the calendar page turns to the month of your journey, when you’re packing, when you’re on your way, upon arrival, or from the moment of idea conception? Whenever that travel joy hits, do your eyes brighten, corners of your mouth upturn, shoulders drop, and breathing ebb?

When that first simple joy of travel is upon you...once it hits, it’s hard to let it go. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Simple Travel Joys

For me, it happens at various times. It’s in the time spent researching a new adventure, the moment I start the car or pass through airport security to the journey-taking side, and in the sense of freedom I feel as soon as we arrive and choose how to spend a day. It’s at moments when a butterfly swings by with a graceful flap of her wings, when a kind stranger helps with guidance in a moment of misplaced direction, and the feeling of spiritual magic when standing at a sacred site. It’s in the beauty of the land, the smiles of children, and the ease of not knowing where the day will take us.

Travel joys are plentiful. Whether it’s gratitude for the ability to head off on this journey, curiosity of being in a new place, or the privilege of taking this trip with the ones you love, once we’re open to them, once we seek them, they appear.

There are heaps of simple joys of travel–how do you find them?

How do you infuse those joys into the everyday, your educational lessons, or the entirety of your outlook on life?

How do you bring that simple travel joy experience into the everyday?

When dreaming of, planning for, or actually traveling, we all experience different things. For some, anxiety increases, stress levels rise, and panic ensues. For some, it’s the world’s most epic adventure, a Zen-filled story, and leads to positive attitudes every which way you look. Do you hit either extreme or fall somewhere in the middle? Personally, I experience the latter, and often do my best to impart that feeling towards the next generation. 

Travel teaches, if only we open our eyes and listen. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Simple Travel Joys

Those travel joys and experiences transcend borders, cross language barriers, and lend lessons far beyond the books. If we can find a way to acknowledge our travel joys on the road, perhaps we can find a way to capture them when grounded in the routines of the everyday. That perspective, that ease, that gratitude–this is what we want to share with the next generation of travelers. This is how we want our students to interact with the world. How do you we get that across in our lessons?

 These are those things that again fall outside of those bounds of rigorous, data-centered, quantifiable bubbles. These are those long-term life skills and character building items that help grow kind, successful humans. Acknowledging those simple joys, whether while traveling, at home, or amidst the journey in between, stays with you. That ability to see a larger scope than what’s in front of you, to look through the agita and find the good, and to shift focus to the things that actually spark joy, matters. These skills turn rainy days into puddle-jumping play dates, turn getting lost into a newfound adventure, and help to see the light at the end of a tunnel that often times seems steeped in adversity. These are bigger than test scores, carry more weight than SAT results, and transcend both customs and cultures.

6 Simple Joys that Transcend Travel

6 Simple Joys that Transcend Travel

Gratitude

Children of all ages can understand gratitude. Whether it’s being thankful for siblings, grateful for food on their table, or acknowledging their luck in a situation, most can grasp it. Travel shares that message. The ability to change up your everyday is special. The privilege of learning in an educational setting is special, and not one that all the world’s children have available. The appreciation for a talent, a grade achieved, a teacher met, a friend who sat with them at lunch, or people across their educational landscape who have helped them reach a goal are all things kids understand. Add to that a travel lesson that takes place outside of a classroom, truly seeing whatever natural gifts they have been given, or getting to take part in a particular experience that transcends the school walls, and you’ve got lessons of gratitude that last a lifetime.

Tolerance

It’s found in children’s books, novels, and history texts. It’s in television dramas, documentaries, and movies. But witnessing tolerance in action or actually practicing it shares lessons that jump off the pages and dive off screens. Share a meal with someone who practices a different faith than you, accept that people who think differently can still be friends, and show respect to all cultures and people who are different from the ones from which you come. Take kids to a diverse cultural ceremony to enhance their understanding of shared humanity, encourage volunteerism with a group that has a diverse cultural make up, and engage in conversations that enrich understanding of something you didn’t before grasp. You can go to new lands, eat new foods, visit new houses of worship, share a table with a reformed school bully, and listen to speakers whose views are different than your own–every application of tolerance enhances its significance and encourages the next generation to continue to practice this lifelong skill.

Ease

Each person who finds it is often in a different spot. Listening to the waves crash on the shore, watching children play, helping animals, feeling a waterfall’s spray on your face, hiking the trail, climbing a mountain, witnessing a miracle–however you find it, that’s the experience for which we aim. That feeling of grace, serenity, joy, and inner calm–when your pulse slows, your breathing ebbs, the corners of your mouth upturn–that, that’s it. Ditch the routine and find it. Help make someone else’s life easier for a moment. Stop, take a moment, sit, and let it all be. Let go of attachment and the need to be in control. Encourage flexibility and go with the flow. Perhaps when we practice attaining that ease in moments of travel we’ll be better equipped to grasp it in the day to day. That calm, that pause, that moment where it’s all truly okay–just for a moment. Once we can get there out of our comfort zone, the ease might just be easier to find.

Perspective

Some have it, some don’t know what it is, and others seek it. Disney movies like Ratatouille showcase it, realizing what a small space we all take up in the world helps, and allowing that shift to add to growing viewpoints of the world changes the game. Maths, arts, and physics classes teach it, yet it’s rare that it enters into other subject matters. If we share travel with the whole student, perspective grows. Perhaps it’s in a space where a child witnesses others less fortunate than themselves. Perhaps it occurs when one survives a situation they never thought possible. Or perhaps it shows up after a life-changing experience (travel or otherwise) that completely alters one’s viewpoints of how they see the whole world. If we can share that understanding with the next generation, we could all be better teachers. 

Joy in the Everyday

Can you find it? We look forward to weekends, to holidays, to birthdays, to competitions, to retreats, and to vacations–but what does that mean for the everyday? Why is it that a Tuesday on a vacation always far surpasses a regular Tuesday? Why is it that we scroll through social media enthralled by those who have managed to ditch the routine and take their work life on the road? Perhaps our intentions change, our experiences shift, and our moments spent amidst those 24 hours are different–but still, it’s a Tuesday. What if we tried to explicitly show our next generation that we could find joy in the everyday, the same as we can on those travel days? When a friend smiles, when the sun shines, when it’s raining, when your dog wags her tail, when there’s food on the table, when you get in a yoga class, when the hummingbird crosses your path, when there are blue ices in the freezer, when you have extra moments to sleep in, when you participate in class, when you grab a walk on the beach before work, when you snuggle your puppy before bedtime–whatever it is that brings you joy of travel, it’s still there in the everyday. Let’s remind our students to embrace that joy during the week as well as on the weekends, and in the midst of the school year as well as on vacation. The experience will do us all good.

The Unknown

While we can’t all belt out Elsa’s signature song in Disney’s Frozen 2, we can all take a lesson from the lyrics. So often, there’s fear of the unknown. However, if we channel what we all thought as children, we’ll be far less afraid. Toddlers seek, are downright curious, and learn as they go. They fall while learning to walk, often skin a knee while edging towards acing that two-wheeler, and can be afraid of the dark before they sleep in their own room. When did we forget those lessons? If Elsa’s curiosity and epic journey teaches us anything, it’s to listen to the things that call to us, and know that although there’s a bit of nervous trepidation, it’s all right to plunge ahead into the unknown...perhaps we’ll find something magical awaiting us. Of course, use your judgment, ask questions, and trust your gut, but the unknown doesn’t have to be altogether frightening. When traveling, we sometimes take the alternate trail, aim to get off the beaten path, and quite literally take digital advice of virtual strangers on which restaurants to visit, tours to take, and places to stay. But as we age, the fear often creeps in. Whether it’s from outside entities or our inner anxiety, it shows up, and it’s often a torturous chore to alleviate it. Channel that travel, take a lesson from Arendelle’s queen, and encourage that curiosity in your students. Heading into the unknown might not be filled with all sorts of Disney-style magic, but embracing the curiosity and pushing through the fear is a win in itself. We can all benefit from quieting that fear and employing more of those childlike inquisitive natures. 

 

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.