Travel, especially if done properly, is perhaps unique in its ability to expand one’s perspective, which so often become closed because of our routinised lives. Rather than sitting by the hotel pool, sustainable travel — with its emphasis on genuine cultural exchange and meaningful interaction — is the best means of enriching our minds.

Discarding our cultural lenses

The testimonies of the participants who went on our recent Hands On Development tour to Nepal, provide first-hand evidence of how travel broadens the mind. One participant, Vanessa Moskal, described how the trip had the effect of making her aware of her own ‘cultural lenses.’

In the West, it is often too easy to forget that there are other value systems and ways of looking at the world, which we can also apply to our own lives. A key inisight that emerged for the participants was that happiness does not always come from material wealth. Rather, it comes from the people who are in our lives. Undoubtedly, in such a competitive, career-minded society as Australia, this is a lesson which we can all take on board.

In a classic example of how travel is a force for peace, participants described how the language barrier was not an obstacle to experiencing human connection at the ‘fundamental level.’ If travel is done so as to emphasis cross-cultural interaction, as the global middle class rises, travel can create a groundswell of momentum for peace.

How we can all make a difference

Another key takeaway from the trip was that it is possible for every person to make a difference. After seeing the work of Seven Women and various other partner organisations in Kathmandu, the participants realised that goals as seemingly unattainable as women’s empowerment in a traditionally patriarchal society, are actually achievable if we all pitch-in.

Yet, as Sue Gammon attested too, this realisation was only made possible through embarking on a sustainable tourism tour. In her words, if you are interested in finding out ‘what you can do to help’ and ‘what [truly] goes on in a country’, then this ‘is the type of tour for you.’

With the right type of travel experience, we can broaden our minds like never before.