Road trips, camping by the lake, a weekend at the cottage or an international adventure, vacations come in all shapes and sizes. Travelling is all about visiting people and places and leaving with a sense that we've been changed forever.
Through travel, we become more aware of others and the diversity around us. We learn to embrace different cultures and we share our experiences, leaving our hosts with the best we have to offer.
Travel, no matter how you define it, can open our eyes to the world. Fortunately, we have everything we need to become globetrotters too: our Toastmasters membership. Not only does it help us to achieve our personal development goals, this passport of sorts allows us to travel around the Toastmasters world.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The idea of travelling to other clubs can awaken some anxiety within the most seasoned adventurer. While we can be fairly sure you won't encounter giant venomous spiders, erupting volcanoes or perilous ocean voyages along the way, you may still be asking yourself why you would bother leaving the cocoon of your home club to venture abroad. After all, you know your club, its membership and how it operates. Why rock the boat – or for some, the cruise ship?
Being very comfortable with your club membership might be the perfect reason to embrace the adventures of that exotic Toastmaster trip. After all, you can become a well-travelled Toastmaster without the hassles of airport security, the complications of connecting flights or the challenges of jet lag. Pack your bag!
Boarding Pass and a Ticket to Ride
Looking at the Toastmasters travel brochure (the Toastmasters.org website) it's easy to select a destination that suits any schedule. What would you prefer? A breakfast club in central Toronto, no problem. A Saturday morning advanced club, also available. Searching for clubs by geographical region is also easy (especially on Meetup). Most clubs provide a link to their website (example). There, you can find contact and meeting information and, in most cases, a map for the club location. Maps are very helpful to us as travellers!
The benefits of visiting other Toastmaster clubs are numerous. Some of my favourite reasons to be seen outside the club include:
- Seeing how other clubs operate – What fantastic ideas you might be able to bring back to your "home" club?
- Experiencing the broader Toastmasters organization – What volunteer opportunities exist in Toastmasters and beyond?
- Engaging with others who share a common purpose and understanding – How do new "first impressions" help you become a better leader or speaker?
- Networking – Who and what exist beyond the club to help you achieve your goals (conferences, training opportunities etc.)?
Visiting a new club also gives you the opportunity to give back. Imagine how interesting it is for the members whom you are visiting to get your feedback on their club. New ideas and a fresh perspective are part of the sharing that strengthens the Toastmasters experience.
Preparations Prior to Travelling
There are, of course, a few points of etiquette that I would suggest in order to make your visit to another club even better.
- Make a reservation – ensure that the club contact knows you're coming and confirm the meeting details in case of a last-minute change.
- Exchange your currency and be ready for change – while all clubs share a common purpose, not all meetings unfold in the same order or make use of the same participants. Enjoy the familiar but be ready for an adventure.
- When in Rome – be a good guest. Volunteer for a role if needed, participate in Table Topics if appropriate and offer your feedback after the meeting. You might even consider sending your host a thank-you note the following day.
Travelling is more than a hobby; it's an opportunity to broaden our horizons and to give back to the world around us. Is it time for you to experience the world beyond your Toastmasters club?
My challenge to you: start planning your next trip to a Toastmasters club. Clubs around the corner and across the globe are waiting for your visit. My final piece of advice before you go is simple: leave room in your luggage for fresh ideas, rediscovered inspiration and a growing circle of colleagues. I'm sure you'll be amazed by your fellow Toastmasters, wherever you happen to be!