Travel can be an amazing educational tool at times, helping to engage young people in subjects that are often seen as “boring” or “unimportant.” History, culture and geography all come to life much more vibrantly when students have the opportunity to make a more direct connection with a place that comes alive in some very fascinating ways.
That was exactly the premise behind the Trekking the Planet expedition, a 14-month journey undertaken by the husband and wife team of Darren and Sandy Van Soye. The duo set out on January 28th of last year and have been circling the globe ever since. During that time, they have managed to visit 40 different countries on six continents, most of which have been in the developing world. The expedition has another three and half months to go before it is done, and the Van Soye’s hope to add another 13 countries to their passports before heading home.
Making this kind of journey is a dream for many of us who have longed to hit the open road for an extended period of time. And while Darren and Sandy have had numerous adventures on their world-spanning adventure, they didn’t set out just for their own enjoyment and enrichment. They conceived Trekking the Planet is a tool for helping to reach out to students in classrooms and help engage their curiosity about geography more fully. With that in mind, they’ve established a series of geography education modules that highlight the various places that they have visited. Those lessons are designed to work in classrooms with students ranging in age from 6 to 17 and can be modified to fit nearly any type of curriculum. Their lesson plans have been so successful in fact that they are now followed by 55,000 students in 850 classrooms spread out over 20 countries.
While on the road, the Van Soye’s prefer to travel on foot as much as possible. As a result, they have often found themselves in a number of places that are far from the beaten path. Their journey has taken them to a number of remote regions, including the Mustang region in Nepal, into the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia and along ancient Bedouin trails in Jordan. This approach to travel allows them to get closer to the people living in the countries they visit and have experiences that are out of the norm. They’ve even had the opportunity to speak at 18 different schools along the way, allowing them to share their adventures even more directly with students in different countries.
You can follow Darren and Sandy’s adventures, as well as subscribe to their newsletter, on their Trekking the Planet website.
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