From time immemorial traveling has been considered a part of one’s education. Englishmen, in particular, consider their schooling incomplete without a tour of the continent. Traveling is one of the most delightful experiences of mankind. People have always enjoyed going from place to place seeing men and things.
In India, unfortunately, foreign travel has not been much encouraged and, in fact, there was a time when crossing the seas was declared to be highly sacrilegious. Men like Mahatma Gandhi were actually ex-communicated for going across seas. It was this ostrich mentality which brought about the worst type of intellectual stagnation in India and caused its ignominious downfall.
Travelling, both inside and outside the country, is a powerful aid to education. It provides an experience of the world and calls into action and practical use of the various qualities of mind and intellect developed by education. Tact, firmness, engaging personality and lively conversation skills are some of the products of wide and extensive travelling.
However highly educated a person is, if he has not lived and moved among people with different habits, languages and social customs, and morality, his own outlook remains narrow. He is less accommodating in his views and often fanatic in outlook. But those who have traveled widely are generally liberal in outlook. They have maturity of judgment and unerring in their understanding of people and their mind.
The advantages of traveling in the narrow sense of the word education are `equally’ remarkable. Geography is a dull and uninspiring subject if studied in the classrooms. The Himalayas are a figment of imagination and the mighty Ganges nothing more than a snaky line running along the map. But if the places are actually seen by a student, the dull subject of geography becomes living and absorbing. The same thing applies to history. History as it is taught in schools at present is nothing but a catalogue of dead kings and their dates of births and deaths. If, however, history is taught in relation to the achievements of these dead kings and students are given opportunities to visit frequently the scenes of the glories and defeats of the dead monarchs, history will become as interesting a subject as any other.
In independent India, we have become suddenly alive to the need of learning a few other languages. To learn a foreign language through the old method would take a lifetime and even then our mastery of it may be doubtful. But the quickest and the best, if not cheapest method of learning a new language is to live and move among the people who speak it. Thus in order to learn French properly, one must live in France and so on and so forth. The learning of a foreign language is the first step towards the understanding of that nation. In the present day world the understanding between the various nations of the world is a great necessity. There can be no peace without international understanding.
Travelling is no doubt expensive and inconvenient. But for broadening the mind, growing out of narrow and parochial views, for development in international culture travelling inside one’s own land and also beyond it, is absolutely essential. After all we are living in `one world’ and unless the inhabitants of the globe understand one another well, there cannot be any prospect of peace and amity between the nations of the world.