This is the first in a series of reading activities to practice phrasal verbs. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the importance of travelling to broaden the mind, and including great phrasal verb vocabulary to help you learn better English at the same time. Enjoy!
One of the most important things I do in a first English class with a student is to ask about their passions and hobbies. I would say that around 50% of them express a passion for travelling. When I ask why, they seem to find it difficult to give me a clear answer. So it got me thinking about why I travel too. I frequently set off on journeys to new places, knowing that it’s what I enjoy, but without really understanding why I enjoy it.
The most obvious answer is that I get to see cool places, and check out the sights in exciting and exotic parts of the world. Seeing amazing animals in the Serengeti of Tanzania is appealing because they’re the dreams of my childhood come true. Watching the Lion King on repeat as a kid, of course I always wanted to see zebras and hyenas in the wild, and travelling gave me access to those dreams.
But that can’t be all; if we dream of other more interesting places, then it’s probably because something is wrong with what we already have, we are incomplete in some way. So in a sense, the goal of travelling may not be to realize dreams, but to escape from our realities at home.
Obviously, part of the enjoyment for me is simply getting away from the life I already have. I lived in England for the best part of twenty years of my life, and started to feel that I was fairly unsurprised by the everyday happenings around me. Not that I dislike my birthplace, but I would frequently feel that if I wanted to grow as a person and have fresh perspectives on my own world, I would have to see things from another side.
As a child, I was fortunate enough to travel to India with my parents. Living in London, I had of course seen and met many south Asian immigrants growing up, but had always viewed them from a distance without really understanding their way of life, their mannerisms. After riding in noisy tuc-tucs in Delhi, seeing the daily hustle and bustle of Udaipur, the astronomical wonders of sun-dials in Jantar Mantar, smelling the scents of a cooking class in Jaipur, and feeling welcomed by the warmth of the people across Rajasthan, I returned to England with a new respect for these people. I felt for the first time that we shared something, that in some way we had seen some of the same things, and I could understand a little bit about their background and customs through my own experiences. I saw that travelling could bring me closer to humanity.
However, I’m still unsatisfied with this answer. When you check in at an airport on your way to your flight, the moment you take off, and look at the world below you, unless you’re heading to a package deal beach resort holiday, you don’t have a clue what you’re going to experience when you get to your location. You don’t know that this next journey is going to take you closer to your fellow human, it might even make you question humanity altogether.
So that’s why I think the true spirit of travel is not to find something we are looking for, but to find something we didn’t know we were looking for. When I travel, I don’t know what I’m going to find, how I’m going to feel, and what effect it’s going to have on me. When I’m at home, I can predict how my day will pan out, and opportunities to learn something incredible about the world are scarce. The most exciting surprises at home these days seem to come by way of election results and referendums, which teach us only about the levels of fear of the outside and the unknown that exist within our borders. Travel puts you face to face with the unknown, so that you can at least attempt to understand it, and not run in fear.
Set off – Begin a journey
Check out the sights – Visit tourist areas
Check in – arrive and register at a hotel or airport
Take off – A plane leaving the ground into the sky
Head to – Move in the direction of
Package deal – a holiday organized by a travel agent, with arrangements for transportation, accommodations, etc.
Borders – a line separating countries or areas
Broaden the mind – Expand one’s knowledge and opportunities
Hustle and bustle – A large amount of activity, usually in a noisy area like a city
Mannerisms – Ways of acting
Pan out – Conclude, end up