Travellers can learn a lot from Star Trek.
I was an unashamed Trekkie long before it was something you would own up to in polite company. Whether it’s Captain Picard finally joining his crew for a poker game or Spock’s ultimate sacrifice in The Wrath of Khan, its characters, messages and values linger long after the final credits have faded.
Here are the key lessons the Star Trek universe taught me about travel.
1. Never stop exploring
The series’ central premise is set out in those immortal opening lines of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation:
… to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no (man) one has gone before
After all these years of watching the franchise, those words still give me goosebumps. So the greatest lesson that Star Trek can give us is to just get out there and explore.
Mirroring the voyages of the star ships, travel offers the chance to discover new countries, near and far. Much like the crews on board the USS Enterprise, Voyager or Discovery, we gain a deeper understanding of cultures unlike our own.
And the boldly go bit? Don’t fear the unknown; it is there to be examined, explored and understood.
2. Communication Breaks Barriers
Second only to the transporter, the Universal Translator (UT) is my favourite piece of future tech.
Throughout the series, effective communication with alien species is crucial for peaceful interactions and mutual understanding. The UT, which translated alien languages into native tongues, was central to this. Today, I guess that we are part of the way there with Google Translate.
In our travels, the ability to communicate respectfully and openly helps break down cultural and linguistic barriers, fostering connections and friendships.
3. Believe that everything will turn out well
I love the sheer optimism of the Star Trek Universe. Even when the crews were faced with seemingly impossible odds, they held on to the conviction that things would turn out ok.
That Final Frontier was often far from friendly.
Adopting the same positive attitude works wonders when you are travelling. If you expect things to go belly-up, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
4. Embrace diversity
Star Trek is celebrated for its diverse cast and the variety of species encountered by the starship crews.
The crew onboard NCC-1701 included an African, Korean and Russian (the series was originally transmitted at the height of the Cold War). Discovery’s Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber were a gay married couple.
This diversity reminds me that travel is an opportunity to encounter different cultures, perspectives and ways of life. Embracing diversity enriches our understanding of the world and fosters a more inclusive and interconnected global community.
5. Lasting friendships can be forged during journeys
The relationship between Captain Kirk and Mr Spock never fails to move me. This is Star Trek’s heart.
They are not an obvious pairing. Kirk is all gut instinct and borderline aggression; Spock is cool and calculating. But they grow into a sort of odd couple throughout their voyages.
How friendships form is one of the great mysteries of our universe but in my experience, those developed through travel can be one of the gifts of life. One of my closest friends is someone I met when visiting Jerusalem over 30 years ago.
6. Observe the Prime Directive
The Prime Directive is central to the missions of the crews on Star Trek. This prohibits them from interfering in the internal affairs of the planets they visit.
That said, Kirk, the master of cowboy diplomacy, often played fast and loose with the rules.
Responsible and sustainable travel practices are vital to preserving the beauty and integrity of the destinations we explore. Like Starfleet’s Prime Directive to minimize interference with less advanced civilizations, responsible travellers aim to leave a positive impact.
7. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few
Uttered by Spock in his dying breath in Star Trek II, this is one of the franchise’s most memorable lines.
Starfleet crews exemplify teamwork and collaboration. Travel, especially group travel, teaches us the importance of working together to overcome obstacles and make the journey more enjoyable. Shared experiences create lasting memories and strengthen the bonds between fellow travellers.
8. Coffee and chocolate can make most situations better
Whilst food doesn’t feature prominently in Star Trek, The Next Generation‘s Deanna Troi is a chocoholic and Captain Janeway has a fondness for coffee.
This Star Trek lesson? Few journeys cannot be improved by a decent cup of coffee and a slab of chocolate.
9. End every journey with a smile
Ah. The joke on the bridge. All of The Original Series episodes had the same ending; the moral of the story condensed into a joke, often at Spock’s expense.
Not only is this a terrific way to end a TV show, but it is also the perfect note on which to end your travels. Very few journeys are trouble-free and you will face challenges along the way. Just remember to end your episode with a smile.
10. Finally never, ever wear a red shirt
You know the score. Pick any episode of Star Trek and there is likely to be a landing party comprised of a few of the cast regulars plus a random guy wearing a red shirt. Chances are he won’t make it past the first ten minutes.
Wear red if you want to but don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Thank you for reading my Star Trek travel lessons
I hope that they resonate with your journeys on Planet Earth. Whether embracing diversity, stepping outside your comfort zone as a novice solo traveller or making new friends when travelling, let the principles espoused by Star Trek turn your travels into adventures.
Channel the spirit of Star Trek and boldly go where your curiosity leads you.
Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.
Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.
To get in touch, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on social media.