Rick Steves Reveals The Best Way To Challenge Yourself While Traveling

For many, traveling is about vacationing and taking a break from day-to-day life. Others have to travel for work. Educational travel, on the other hand, is typically associated with students, but in reality, traveling for educational purposes can be for everyone. Regardless of the purpose, travel often means encountering things out of your comfort zone, whether using public transportation or learning a few phrases in a foreign language. 

Travel Guru Rick Steves believes that travel should bring people out of their comfort zones. More specifically, he feels that travel should be used as a way to challenge yourself. This relates back to the educational aspect of tourism. "When we travel, we enrich our lives and better understand our place on this planet," Steves explained to Booktrib in 2018. "Our travels can better equip us to address and help resolve the many challenges facing our world." So, how do we make our travels more challenging in a positive way?

Beachside resorts often don't show a country's reality

When traveling, a simple way to challenge yourself and learn more about a different part of the world is to set foot outside of the vacation resort. Such resorts usually don't reflect the country or region as a whole. Immigration from Mexico and neighboring countries is a common topic in the United States. Yet, places in Mexico like Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas are covered in gorgeous all-inclusive resorts. "Think all Mexicans want to come to America? Visit Mexico beyond the resorts," Steves stated to BookTrib. A trip to Mexico could help you see ordinary life in Mexico or why some choose to move away.

A rebuttal to Steves urging travelers to leave the confines of a resort is the possible dangers of doing so, given that even if a country has a high crime rate, its resorts tend to remain safe. However, people's fears about other countries could be due to news outlets blowing their topics out of proportion to gain more viewers or online engagements. "News has become entertainment masquerading as news. As the news becomes more sensationalized, viewers become more fearful— of different people, different faiths, different countries," says Steves.

Talk to the people you meet during your travels

When Rick Steves talks about challenging yourself by learning about the world when you travel, it relates to his phrase "travel as a political act." This is also the title of one of his books. This idea could mean visiting a country which is slightly out of your comfort zone. Then the challenge becomes taking your broadened perspectives home with you. "Use what you've learned to help bring about positive change," Steves told BookTrib.

The overarching theme that drives the idea of "travel as a political act" is human connection. Steves believes that talking to people you meet while traveling can help you understand issues being faced in a particular region of the world. There are countless "us vs. them" situations all over the world, but Steves finds that traveling can bridge such gaps. "[When] traveling, we realize the challenges of our future will be blind to borders and best overcome not by conflict and walls, but by community," Steves states on his website. So, challenge yourself by connecting with the people on your journeys. Maybe ask someone in Mexico what they like and dislike about living there. Perhaps the person's answer will give you a new perspective.