All of us get stuck in a rut sometimes; overwhelmed with the details of our lives and our busy careers. This can be especially true for teachers. We all know that once the school year starts, it’s full steam ahead planning, organizing, studying, counseling, data-collecting, collaborating, and oh yeah, teaching.
But isn’t it lovely that, for most of us, we get breaks when we can actually step outside of our comfort zone and be refreshed with a new perspective. Whether you have the opportunity to travel to another country or just outside of your own neighborhood, there are so many amazing benefits to travel! It can be just the thing you need for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual renewal.
Here are our top 12 reasons that teachers should make time in their lives for travel.
1. Live in the moment.
As teachers, we spend so much time planning. We have our curriculum, which we break down into units, which we break down into lessons, which we squeeze into our schedule. There is a very specific scope and sequence, which must be strategically followed.
Travel is an awesome way to release yourself from this rigid routine. Sit on a park bench in a new place and watch the world go by. Or take a long train or bus ride and just do nothing. Take in the people and scenery around you. Disconnect from technology. Let your mind rest. And wander. And wonder. It takes some time to relax enough to let this happen. Resist the wiggles and just be.
2. Live simply.
Pack light, travel with the bare essentials. Spare wardrobe, minimal makeup. Ditch the blow dryer, straightener and all other your hair products. Leave your workday getting-ready routine at home. (This website has some terrific recommendations for packing light.) Spend some time in one room—someone else’s room—maybe a quaint bed-and-breakfast or a traditional European hotel. Buy a baguette, a hunk of cheese and a bottle of fizzy water and call it a meal.
3. Refresh relationships.
Spending 24/7 with your loved one gives you the opportunity to move beyond the functional flow that we all get into. “Did you feed the dogs?” “I’ll run to the grocery store while you do the laundry,” “I’ll take this one to soccer, you take that one to gymnastics.” During the school year, it’s so easy to fall into these routines. Traveling with your loved one allows you to move to a different rhythm, shake things up and tackle the world side by side instead of as a tag team.
4. Experience things from a different perspective.
Get out of your comfort zone and hit the reset button. Engage your senses—see new sights, eat new foods, smell the aromas of a different environment, listen to the sounds of the city or country or the waves on the beach.
5. Move your body.
Exercise during the school year? Only for the most devoted among us, maybe on the weekends. Exploring a new environment is a great opportunity to also invest in your fitness. Hike a new trail, take a walking tour of a city, spend hours walking the halls of a museum, bike through a park.
6. Connect to history.
Visit a historical museum or site and imagine yourself walking in the shoes of an ancient Roman in the Colosseum, or a patriot boarding a ship in the Boston Harbor, or an Aztec princess in Belize. Somehow, remembering that life has gone on eons before you, and will continue long after you, puts life in perspective. We often get so immersed in our own little world; it’s like looking through a telescope the wrong way. Travel turns the telescope around and allows us to see the bigger picture.
7. Experience a different culture.
If you’re lucky enough to travel outside of our country, take advantage of being the cultural outsider. Soak in the melody of a different language. Observe the appearance and mannerisms of the local people. Immersing yourself in a different culture can give you insight into some of your students’ realities and shape your expectations for them.
8. Let someone else be the teacher.
Be the learner, the listener, the student. Let someone else worry about the content and delivery. Be the sponge. Broaden your perspective. Being reminded of what being a learner feels like may give you new insight that will benefit your teaching.
9. Try on a different persona.
Maybe at home you’re the shy bookworm. When you travel, you can experiment with being the chatty social butterfly. Or maybe you’re very modest in your personal appearance. Being in a completely different place, surrounded by new people, let your hair down! Wear a flower behind your ear. Put on an outfit you wouldn’t dare wear in your familiar territory. It’s incredibly freeing to occasionally take a risk and be daring. After all, you’ll more than likely never see these people again!
10. Break the rules.
Eat gelato every time you see it! Eat dinner at 10. Sleep till noon. Dawdle. Waste time. Don’t even think about checking your email. And do not feel one iota of guilt about it.
11. Appreciate your life.
You know what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. Sometimes leaving our comfortable environment (and the people we so often take for granted) is the best way to consciously re-choose it and make changes and adaptations that make it all the more sweet.
And last but not least:
12. Be amazed!
It’s a big, beautiful world out there filled with brilliant people and amazing stories. Go explore and be inspired!