Yearn to learn through travel
Hilaire Belloc’s statement, “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfilment”, is the truth of the modern world. Journeying to the heart of other cultures, where rich traditions and passion continue to thrive and life is less impacted by contemporary man, this is where the unlearning begins. It’s also when we comprehend the tiny place we occupy in this world and how great our desire is to see more, know more, and be changed by what we uncover.
A travel bucket list (or in my case, a wander-list) of iconic sights around the world that beg to be ticked off is the blueprint for most adventures abroad. Standing atop the Eiffel Tower, taking the kids to Disneyland, cruising the Greek Islands or watching the ball drop at Times Square on New Year’s Eve top the wish list for many.
But the true allure of travelling isn’t the sights and attractions that draw us, or a behemoth collection of travel snaps and souvenirs to wow friends with – it’s what we discover or unravel along the way that makes journeying (as opposed travelling) the vital spice of life.
Writer Henry Miller said, “One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things”. Travelling opens the mind, casts curve balls, delivers surprises at every turn, and most importantly connects us to new people and cultures. Enriching the mind and upskilling are all part of great travel adventures, and hands-on encounters are the moments that linger in your memory longer than a great cappuccino in St. Mark’s Square, Venice ever will.
Some jaunts are pure or part folly, yet most stem from a yearning for authentic experiences, mixing with the locals, learning their traditions and techniques. Taking a cooking class, chopstick making or rice noodle course in Vietnam, becoming a wine or cheese maker in the rambling hillsides of Tuscany, or joining an en plein air art class in the lavender fields of Provence elevate a holiday to unforgettable.
Unassuming travel encounters remind us of our place in the world, and modern day adventure companies connect us to agri-tourism, volunteer tourism and cultural exchanges, where spending time in a Cambodian school or staying with Buddhist monks in Thien Vien Truc Lam Zen Monastery in Dalat, Vietnam are life-changers.
Agricultural tours are gaining popularity with farm visits and slow tourism through the world’s most fascinating food bowls and rural areas. Tours are designed for both everyday travellers and farmers/agriculturalists, with beautiful itineraries combining ‘must do’ travel sights, education and meeting producers; everything from Texas cattle ranch visits, to UK paddock to plate grazing, and tobacco and classic cars of Cuba are covered.
Being a fan of winter travel and the far-flung polar regions, my early 2019 travels will deliver me north of the 63rd parallel to the Arctic latitudes of Norway and Finland. The Sami people, who are indigenous Finno-Ugric (Laplanders), call the great white north home and continue to make their living from traditional ways of herding reindeer, fishing, hunting, small scale agricultural operations and livestock farming. All of which outsiders are invited to experience first-hand.
In October 2018 the hill tribes and minority villages of central and northern Vietnam are calling, and later in 2019 the foothills of Tibet and the Ancient Tea Horse Route of Yunnan province in southwestern China will place us in the heart of centuries-old traditions, architecture and a hidden world visited by few.
Small Group Journeys is a collection of bespoke worldwide adventures, cruises and tours designed and escorted by Jacinta Blundell. Follow Jacinta in Profile each month as she takes you beyond the tourist trail.
Make an appointment to see one of helloworld travel’s specialists today or visit smallgroupjourneys.com