Travel

There are endless ways to explore the world: solo, with family, as a volunteer, or with a program. No doubt each method offers its own unique perks and setbacks. Having the opportunity to travel more independently with family and friends and with larger organizations like People to People Student Ambassadors and Global Visions International (GVI), I’ve experienced a bit of what these various types of travel have to offer. If you’re considering signing-up with a traveling program, hopefully this little list of pros and cons of traveling in large groups will help you make your decision!

Pros

  1. Meeting people from all over the world is ten times easier in an organized setting. When you think about it, everyone is likely there for the same purpose – to gain invaluable experience in a foreign location and build relationships – so you already have something in common! Many times programs have semi-organized free time or group activities that promote casual socializing. Afterwards you will hopefully have great friends to visit (and who will let you crash on their couches) in other countries!
  1. Access to special deals, promotions, and events are common perks as organizations usually have deals with popular tourist sites and great relationships with the local community. I’m talking private tours, discounted tickets, and behind-the-scenes information that you would never have known about had you traveled independently. When I went on a three week South Pacific tour with People to People the summer of 2011, all of us students had a chance to meet the mayor of Rotorua, New Zealand, and enjoyed a night dancing our hearts out on a boat overlooking the Sydney Opera House. Could we have done this on our own? Maybe, but definitely not for free like we did!
  1. You’re going to learn so much. Most large travel organizations have a platform, activity, or issue they are addressing through their program – it could be education, sports, poverty, hunger, health, politics, or cross-cultural understanding, just to name a few. The program I volunteered with through GVI was focused on education. Had I never participated, I would know nothing about injustices that exist in the South African primary school system. The entire experience opens eyes to issues you know little about or, like me, never knew existed.

Cons

  1. Early mornings are part of the packaged deal when traveling with a large group. Depending on the type of program you travel with, schedules vary slightly, but more than likely participants are required to follow a schedule that starts early in the morning. It’s not always terrible, but when jet lag combined with simple travel exhaustion are combined, waking up could be a struggle.
  1. Yes, there will be some people you don’t care for in your program. But the good news is, there are many other people to focus on and you will not be with them forever. You never know, after your travels you may even miss that one annoying personality.

There are so many positives than negatives that come from traveling with a larger group or organization. I dare you to give it a shot!

Image: Flickr

Culture

The Internet is a wonderful thing; information at the click of a button, hours of entertainment, easy ways to connect with friends (old and new) around the world. The Internet, as it turns out, is also a terrible thing that can consume your entire day with mindless clicking around. As always, there are two sides to every story, and it’s important to hear both.

The pros of the Internet are pretty clear: with everything electronic, virtually any question can be answered with a few clicks on a keyboard. Also, with the Internet around, there is no way to be bored. Games, social networking sites, blogs, and many other sites are just as easily accessed as information, and often hold hours of engaging material for the casual browsers to dabble in. Sites such as YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other similar websites are excellent places to share and expand upon ideas – old and new – and with so many people only a computer screen away, it’s easy to carve out a little niche, and work on whatever inspirational thing is going on. Sharing ideas is easy and quick, and everyone with WiFi can have a voice.

The cons of the Internet come in when a person slips from casual browsing to full-on obsession. A few funny videos or a quick look at some pictures can easily devolve into hours of clicking on related topics, until suddenly you’re watching videos of some random cat, not exactly sure how you got there, but knowing it’s not at all related to what you originally intended to look at. Seemingly limitless content can also be a negative; while some of it can be insightful, it also has the potential to be offensive. Since wars of opinion on the Internet are not fought in person, some people forget that the person they’re talking to is just that; a person. It’s easy to forget yourself in the twists and turns of the Google searchbar, and once you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, it’s hard to get out.

The truth of the matter is, whether you like it or not, the Internet in all its glory is here to stay (and for me, that’s a positive thing). So be careful what you search, and use it to the fullest.

What do you like and dislike about the Internet?

Check out this article for inspiration on unplugging for a couple of days.

Image: Dennis Skley