Learning While Traveling

This week’s BootsnAll question is about Learning Through Travel. The question is:

Have you ever studied or taken classes on a trip? What did you study, and perhaps more importantly, what did you learn while on that trip? What would you like to learn on your travels this year?

Formal & Informal Education

With 4 degrees between the 2 of us, going back to school isn’t too high on either of our lists. Of course, if we decided to head down to Argentina or over to India for a few months, we’d quite likely end up going to a language learning course to pick up some basics. We might even check out a cooking course or two to pick up some new tips and tricks for our favorite ethnic cuisines.

So no, we haven’t studied or taken classes on a trip. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t learning a ton. It’s just that most of our education is coming in the form of direct contact with new people and new experiences.

What We’ve Learned

In just over two months of constant traveling, we’ve already learned quite a few things. We’ve learned some very tangible skills like how to ride a horse and the day-to-day basics of what it’s like to run a farm. We’ve mastered F-150 Tetris, learning how to get our truck loaded just perfectly to give us access to the most useful stuff.

We think that the intangible skills are the most important though. These are the kinds of things that stick with you, whether you’re on a farm or in a city, traveling or sitting at home. Basically, they’re the kinds of things that change your way of thinking, as grandiose as that may sound.

Here are five big things that we’ve learned in the last two months.

Skimming Vs. Deep Reading

One of the key things we learned while traveling through Florida in December is that we’d rather spend two weeks in one place than breaking that same two weeks up over four different places. We still take short trips through some cities, but we’re working to set up longer stays in most of the places we go so that we can actually explore more rather than just a cursory skimming of a place.

Lesson: We need 4 days minimum and preferably 1-2 weeks to really get into a place.

Beauty Is Everywhere

Our initial road trip out to San Diego in May 2010 taught us one big thing: if you open your eyes, you’ll find beautiful scenery everywhere. Few people are surprised to see a mountain range or a forest is stunning. Sunsets and sunrises…no surprise there either.

What we didn’t expect though was that the desert would be mind-blowing. Or that the bayou in Louisiana would offer so many strange and incredible sights in such a vast, flat landscape. In an oddly industrial way, even an oil refinery can be pretty lit up at night.

Lesson: There’s something for us to see everywhere.

We Have The Skills To Avoid The Bills

Between the two of us, we have quite a few skills that we tap into to save money and get things working again. We’ve had to fix parts of the truck, learn to sew, and become adept at cutting hair. You either learn to do things yourself or pay through the nose to have them done by someone else.

Lesson: With a little time, energy, and thinking, we can solve most of our problems on our own.

Most Necessities Aren’t

When you pare your life down to what can fit in your truck, you have to make some deep cuts into what you have. You can’t take all of your fancy kitchen gadgets. Your wardrobe is going to get some massively drastic cuts. Everything takes up space, so you have to decide what you can and can’t live without. Then when you pack it all, you’ll find that there are more things that you can live without.

Clothing is a big one. We initially pared our wardrobes down to a bag of grubby clothes for camping and farm working and a suitcase each. After the first six weeks, we cut down to a single suitcase between the two of us, while still keeping the bag of grubby clothes, which we actually use more often than the suitcase.

Every day that we’re out on the road, we’re looking for things we can get rid of to lighten our load. And we haven’t even made the kinds of drastic cuts that backpackers make.

Lesson: We can get by with far, far less stuff than we’d have ever imagined.

People Are Different…And They’re The Same

Between WWOOFing, camping, and staying in cities, we’ve met a lot of people. And we’ve learned a few things about people in general. Obviously, we all have different religious and political views, different backgrounds, different hopes and dreams, and different ideas of how to have a good time. We all live different lives. We’ve met men that retired from working on oil rigs, lawyers, software engineers, and teachers.

On the other hand though, traveling and meeting people has given us a chance to confirm our previous thinking: despite all of our differences, people are after the same basic things. For one thing, most people are more than happy just to have someone to talk to. About anything. It can be where they’ve been, their plans, their jobs, or maybe they just want to give us some advice on things we should see and do.

Most people are just like the rest of us, going about their days, trying to see and do as much as they can while they have the chance, and looking forward to time with family and friends.

Lesson: The people you meet, more than the places you go, are what make traveling fun.

What Knox Has Learned

Hey y’all, Knox here. My humans aren’t the only ones learning important lessons. I’m a smart member of the canine species, so I’m figuring things out along the way, too. Here are a few things I’ve picked up:

  • Electric fences are evil.
  • Horses aren’t so bad and they’re pretty fun to run trails with.
  • Cows though…probably evil.
  • Fifty pounds (give or take) may be big in the city, but I’m a pipsqueak in the country.
  • If I don’t growl or snarl at the people we meet, Scott and Mommy give me treats!

One thought on “Learning While Traveling

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