Benefits of educational travel:
Gathering firsthand information about the world - seeing different landscapes, experiencing the challenges of certain cultures, listening to the opinions of people in other nations - provides a level of mindfulness that's often tough to shake. Profound experiences give people a sense of place and purpose, and they establish lifelong values and priorities.
Exposure to the problems and perks of other lifestyles helps people break out of cultural-centric thinking. Having a broad awareness of how other people live and what other cultures prioritize can trigger solutions and ideas that don't necessarily rely on familiar habits and comforts. Cultural immersion through travel and service programs can also help break down language barriers and open new channels of lifelong communication.
Living and working for any amount of time in a culture that's different from home can help prepare students for college in ways more profound than any sleep-away camp or vacation can. This enriching experience challenges students to open their minds regarding food, friends and basic needs. After all, it's tougher to take things for granted in unfamiliar situations.
Strengthens leadership skills:
A person who's been there and done that simply has more credibility than those who rely on lip service. Instead of relying on others' opinions, travelers establish perspective, confidence and conviction that make it easier to gain the respect of others. Plus, international travel, especially with a group or through a program, provides students with a global network of contacts and references.
Traveling away from the comfort of friends, family and familiar surroundings is tough. But doing it shows that a person is interested enough in the rest of the world, and confident enough in him- or herself to venture out and discover other parts of the world. This is a character trait that's very appealing to colleges and employers.