The world of travel allows you to step into the unknown and venture into new territory. The Duke of Edinburgh’s award in the UK allows you to roam minute sections of the British countryside and explore its natural beauty. Despite being on such a small scale, it enhances skills and provides you with excellent travelling experience. Duke of Edinburgh doesn’t just involve getting lost in the countryside, it is also an opportunity to learn new skills and give back to the community, creating a great sense of achievement once the award has been completed. However, I personally feel it gives you more than that.
Creating your own routes and having to learn to map read are just some of the ways of D of E life you have to adapt to. Travelling involves having to map out places, often following your nose along the way, which is ultimately what you find yourself doing on the third day of D of E expeditions. The sense of awareness towards your surroundings this creates is extremely useful, especially when you’re adapting to new ones. Planning anything before you go ahead and do it always seems to produce better results, or in this case, a better travelling experience.
The walking part is tedious but builds up your strength and appreciation for the world at the same time with the beautiful landscapes you come across. Carrying over half your body weight in essentials and food on your back whilst walking and climbing rocky terrain for seven hours a day becomes rather gruelling. Yet if you’re wishing to backpack across Australia or the USA, or even China, it gives you a taste of what your experience would really be like, and whether you feel like this extreme travelling lifestyle would be for you.
Campsite life is definitely one of the factors of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award in which you pick up the most ‘travel handy’ skills. Having to learn to quickly and efficiently construct a tent in all weather conditions, hot or cold, is a skill I personally feel that any aspiring traveller would benefit from. You also pick up on little tricks like how to make the most out of a sleeping bag and how to efficiently pack a back-pack.
Making meals out of the bare minimum is another useful travelling skill D of E hands you with. Being a full time traveller, you often won’t have much room in your bag to carry full size meals, therefore you have to resort to what is most adaptable and lightweight, just like you do on D of E. Cooking on a tranger with methylated spirits in the middle of a field is not your usual tea time, but it definitely gives you an insight into life in the wild.
One of the most valuable skills you are able to develop is teamwork. Some travellers prefer to go it alone, and some prefer to go with a team. D of E tests your friendships and tolerance for those around you. It is incredibly important to be able to work efficiently as a team on Duke of Edinburgh, and also when travelling in a group. Everyone has their own jobs to do and you find yourself reliant on each other. Sometimes you just need some moral support. You never want to find yourself in an argument when things are getting tough, and I can imagine this is the same in stressful situations when travelling.
Duke of Edinburgh only gives you a tiny insight into the world of travelling, yet it is extremely valuable in preparing you for life on the road. It is an opportunity that any young and aspiring travellers wouldn’t want to miss out on.
By Cerys Jones - Voices for the Future
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