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Why does Indian youth need to travel more and more?

“Once a year, go someplace you have never been before.” – Dalai Lama

These words of wisdom from the Dalai Lama aptly highlight the importance of traveling in one’s life. Since antiquity, humans have been on the move for one reason or the other. Early humans were nomads. They traveled in search of food, land, or work; if not for leisure, as one may argue. It was for these ancient nomadic tribes who traveled from one place to another, many of them settling on the way and establishing settlements that eventually turned into civilizations. In later periods, settlers or explorers would travel around the world and discover new places. Some famous explorers include Marco Polo, who explored and traveled from Europe to Asia along the silk road between 1271 and 1295; Christopher Columbus, who discovered the New World (the Americas) between 1492 and 1504; Ibn Battuta, who traveled extensively in southern Eurasia, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, and the Iberian Peninsula during the 13th century; Vasco de Gama, who was the first European to reach India by the sea in 1497, thereby discovering the Cape Route which remained the main sea route connecting Europe to India for more than two and a half centuries until the opening of the Suez Canal. Besides trade and commerce, these explorations and discoveries led to an exchange of ideas, resources, and cultures, due to which civilizations evolved through many centuries into the world that we see today. Therefore, even if one does not travel, he cannot deny the important role traveling has played in shaping the world we live in today.

Now, talking about India specifically, there would hardly be any apt words to summarise the great diversity of this country and the travel destinations it has to offer. Mark Twain said, So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked”. Since ancient times, India has been a garden of civilizations and rich in natural resources. Many conquerors and settlers set foot in this land and brought with them their culture, cuisine, architecture, etc. Which, over a period of time, merged with their indigenous counterparts and formed Indian culture as we see it today. As early as during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya (r. 324-293 BC), we find Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador in the Mauryan Court who wrote about India in his book ‘Indica’ which unfortunately is a lost work.

In modern times India has not had a culture of traveling like its western counterparts. One of the many reasons that can be advanced for it is two centuries of colonial rule, due to its economic repercussions on the common man. Although, on the other hand, it can also be said that modern tourism in India started during the closing decades of the Raj, as travel had become easier after the introduction of railways. Besides, the establishment of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1861 resulted in the conservation of various heritage structures across India. The British also built various hill stations, which were though elite preserves during the colonial days, but have now become popular tourist destinations. However, it cannot be denied that leisure traveling was still far from the reach of the common man. Post-independence, India remained a closed economy for more than four decades, so the economic barrier (in traveling) continued to some extent. The liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991 brought economic prosperity and eventually a boom in tourism. As per government data, the number of domestic tourists in India has risen exponentially over the last 30 years. The question that arises is, is this enough? The answer would be no. Although undoubtedly the statistics show an exponential surge in the number of domestic travelers considering the large population of India, half of which is youth, it can be said that there is still a need for Indian youth to travel more and more.

Besides recreation, there are many reasons why Indian youth should travel.

It is one of the best ways to meet new people and socialize with them

While traveling, you meet new people from various spheres of life. In today’s world, when corporate culture is on the rise, the importance of building contacts and expanding one’s network is of great importance. You never know an interaction with an unknown fellow passenger may result in forging a lifelong friendship or a professional relationship. 

It develops your overall personality

Traveling boosts your self-confidence in many ways. Traveling means that youngsters will come out of their comfort zones and navigate their way into the choppy seas of the outside world as well as interact with their fellow sailors. Staying at unknown places alongside strangers, trying new cuisines, following a budget, and taking your own decisions greatly contribute towards your overall personality development. Apart from this, traveling means getting an insight into cultures that are very different from our own. It helps in developing an insight into our culturally rich and diverse country.

It increases knowledge

Traveling is undoubtedly one of the best ways to educate yourself. When you travel to a place, you get to know about its history, language, people, architecture, cuisine, dress, culture, etc. Therefore, a youngster who travels frequently will tend to be more knowledgeable and experienced about the world than other people of his age who do not travel (or travel less).

It creates memories

It is perhaps the best part. When you travel, you create memories for a lifetime. You might still be cherishing that trip you went on during summer break along with your parents when you were still a kid! You would similarly remember the trips you undertake now after 50 years.

Traveling will also greatly benefit our economy. An increase in tourism will mean the generation of various jobs and employment opportunities such as hotels, restaurants, transport, travel agents, security, entertainment, and various other service providers. Besides, it will also be a boon for different handicrafts across the country and will result in promoting our local artisans and their skills. However, traveling should not be restricted only to popular tourist destinations. Indeed, Indian youth should also explore the unexplored (or less explored) destinations that often skip the eye of the traveler. But, in the end, it can be said, keep traveling!

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