Curiosity is one of the characteristics of man which can never be satisfied. In all ages, men have wanted to know about things and places. In order to acquire knowledge, they have studied books and traveled in the face of several hazards. It was the keen desire to wander and see places that led Columbus and Vasco da Gama to discover America and India. When printing had not developed, and newspapers were not available, travelers played a crucial role. People of a city or a village gathered news about the happenings in other parts of the country from these travelers. Also, these travelers related the details of the different styles of living of people in different places and the listeners learned what they could not gather from any other source.
Travel is both a source of education and enjoyable experience. No amount of description of a place or people in books can be a substitute to a personal visit to the place concerned. The impact of seeing it for oneself is much more than merely reading about it. Generally, when we get into the routine of traveling from our residence to our place of work, we begin to lose interest in our surroundings. We seldom notice any changes that take place on the route. Travelling, on the other hand, sharpens our power of observation. When we are at a new place, we tend to get interested in the unfamiliar details of the place. Our curiosity about the new place makes us alert and we start taking mental note of the surroundings.
Leading the life of a frog in the well narrows our mental horizons and we begin to regard our narrow limits as the whole world. Travelling brings us face to face with the variety that exists in this vast world. We meet people speaking different languages, eating different foods, wearing different dresses and observing lifestyles which have nothing in common with those of our own. We exchange ideas with other people. We find that there can be more than one way of dressing up and the other ways are not necessarily inferior to those of our own. We may, at times, learn and benefit from the study of political and social institutions prevailing in other countries.
Several problems arise from the fact that people of different regions in the country seldom find an opportunity to visit regions other than their own. They can learn and understand at first hand about the true nature of the problems of a particular region. When one looks at a problem from another’s point of view, one understands and realizes the unreasonableness of one’s own stand.
Travel brings alive the historical and other monuments. We generally read about them in books, but they remain in our minds as only abstract word-masses. When we are face to face with the monuments about which we have read, we experience a thrill, which is not to be got through books at all. Travelling also satisfies the spirit of adventure in us. Visiting far-flung places, sometimes not easily connected by transport, entails difficulties. But therein lies the thrill of having conquered the distance. There is something in man which drives him towards tackling challenges and traveling fulfills this urge.
Besides being a source of instruction and education, traveling also provides joy and pleasure. The thrill of being at a new place, amidst strange people and sharing exotic food with them is something which cannot be adequately put into words. While traveling one finds oneself released from the constraints of time and space. The unique sense of freedom is indeed joyful.
Last but not least, the illiterate persons who cannot learn from books can also educate themselves by traveling and observing things. Actually, the knowledge acquired by an illiterate person by visiting different places would be much more meaningful to him. It will remain with him for the rest of his life, as against the bookish knowledge which may sometimes, leave some doubts in the mind of the reader. More and more people, for all these reasons, are taking to travel.