Hey all you young, spritely 20-year olds! This post is for you!
I’m here to tell you why you should stop thinking about traveling and talking about traveling and just go do it already. It’s time to stop daydreaming, stop being jealous, stop waiting and go. If you want it, go get it. And if you’re not going to go get it, then stop complaining about it.
Get ready for a pep talk and a bit of tough love. It’s all in hopes of inspiring you to make the move and get out there.
I’m tired of hearing excuses for why people don’t go out and travel. No money. No time. My job. My family. My boyfriend. Sure, there are some of you out there with real excuses, but the majority of you are old enough to make your own decisions and young enough to have no real ties holding you back.
It’s not that you can’t travel. It’s that you won’t travel.
Traveling abroad is no longer difficult. It also doesn’t have to be expensive. There are countless resources, programs and bloggers out there who have already paved the way for you. They’ve done the work, all you have to do is the research. With some planning and a little saving, it’s possible for anyone.
The reality is that those who sacrifice a few things to travel, won’t regret it. Those that aren’t willing to make a few sacrifices will.
Traveling abroad will open your eyes to more than you could even imagine. You’ll learn about the world, about other cultures, other languages and about yourself.
Now is the time. Before you have real obligations holding you back. Before you settle down. Before you get comfortable.
Don’t second guess it. Don’t take my word for it. Get out and experience it for yourself.
What you come home with will be more than worth it.
1. The “Real World” isn’t going anywhere
There’s way too much pressure today to fall into the typical routine of life. Go to college, graduate, find a job, work hard, find a partner, get married and have kids. We’re raised to believe that this is how we will lead ‘successful’ lives in the ‘real world.” Don’t get me wrong, the plan is a solid one, but it’s not for everyone.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been asked some form of the incredibly ridiculous question-“When are you going to join the rest of us in the real world?”
Frankly, I don’t get it. What is the “real world” anyway? Does this real world we speak of exist between the three stifling walls of a cubicle? Or is it somewhere else? Somewhere out there.
Traveling abroad exposes you to the world and everything it has to offer, its beauty and its faults. Get out and experience that real world.
When you get back- there will be plenty of stuffy office cubicles eagerly waiting. I promise…
2. Travel is the Best Education
“There is no travel without learning and no learning without travel.”- Michel Serres
I learned more in 2 years living abroad than I did in 16 years of traditional classroom education. Sorry about the pretty penny dropped on tuition Mom and Dad.
There is only so much that you can absorb while sitting in a classroom with a teacher talking at you. When you travel, you learn through seeing and doing. You create strong tangible memories and experience history and culture first hand.
It wasn’t until I stepped foot into the Roman Coliseum that I understood the intense passion of the gladiators. Wasn’t until I visited Anne Frank’s Annex that I felt the true horror of the Holocaust. In school, I was a good student, I studied and I excelled, but I also texted, Googled and daydreamed during class.
When I travel, I am completely consumed. I see with my own eyes and learn on my own terms- in a way that I’ll never forget.
3. You’ll learn to value other cultures, religions and traditions
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain
There is way too much hate in our world. Racism, intolerance and stereotyping are not things of the past. They exist, more than ever, today.
Traveling breaks down the barriers of bigotry and opens our eyes to the beauty of diversity. We learn to value every slight difference in culture, religion and race we encounter, as each unique characteristic is what makes our world special.
We also come to realize that no matter how different we humans may seem, somehow we’re all fundamentally the same.
4. You’ll get to see your life and your culture as an outsider
Crossing borders exposes us to ways of living and communicating other than our own. Seeing how others operate, in turn causes us to reassess parts of your own culture and our own life that we once naturally accepted as the norm.
The longer I lived abroad, the more I began to critique my previous ways of thinking and reevaluate my future goals. I explored and exchanged opinions and got an inside look at what others thought about where I came from. I began to see the flaws in my own ideals and society and make an effort towards changing them in a positive way that worked for me.
5. You’ll experience a whole new round of firsts
“The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time” – Bill Bryson
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE firsts. Firsts are new, surprising and a bit scary, but most of all firsts are exciting! As we get older though, firsts are harder to come by.
We get comfortable and stick to what we know, which is fine, but sometimes this limits us from meeting new people, trying new things and going new places.
When we travel, we are presented with the opportunity to expand our tastes and horizons. We’re forced into firsts. Some good. Some bad. All different. All new.
6. You’ll learn to flourish outside of your comfort-zone
Until we willingly push ourselves out of our cozy little corners, we’ll never know what we’re truly capable of. True growth comes from taking risks and overcoming obstacles and you will encounter plenty of challenges when traveling abroad.
Putting yourself out there in a foreign place can definitely be a scary experience, but it is one that will make you a better you. You’ll learn to survive, and hopefully even thrive in any situation that comes your way.
7. You’ll learn to live for now
“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in right now.”
Why is it that we’re always wishing and waiting for something better? During the week we wait for our weekend. During the winter, we wait for our summer. We constantly watch the clock, tick days off our calendars, and wait.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with looking forward to something exciting, but sometimes we get so caught up that we forget to appreciate where we are and what we have right now.
Traveling helps us see that every moment is precious. We learn to appreciate the journey just as much as the end game, because the journey, no matter how long, how far, or how treacherous, is what brings us somewhere extraordinary.
8. Your Social skills will be better than ever
Newsflash: We live in a globalized society.
Today, so much of our world, our business and our economy is continuously connected. It’s pretty crucial to know how to relate and interact with people of different backgrounds, despite language barriers and cultural boundaries.
When we travel, we meet locals and other travelers from all edges of the Earth, while forming meaningful international relationships and connections. If we’re lucky, we may even walk away with a few close friends and cherished soulmates.
9. You’ll acquire a new appreciation for home
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” ― Lin Yutang
If nothing else, when we travel abroad, we learn to appreciate where we come from. We often take for granted the simplicities of our privileged home lives. Amenities like clean running water, heat and electricity, are things that so much of the world still lives without. We realize how lucky we are and that we should be thankful for what we have, because no matter how bad we have it, there is always someone, somewhere who has it worse.
Perhaps most importantly …
10. You’ll get to better know yourself
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself” -David Mitchell
What do you want out of your life? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be? Who do you want to be with?
If you find yourself lacking answers to these questions, a nice long trip abroad may be just what you need.
When I came out of university, fancy, expensive degree in hand, I still had NO IDEA what I wanted to do. The perfect time to “take some time off” and go figure it out, right?
Well, I’d be lying if I said that now, I knew all the answers, but I’m definitely a whole lot closer.
Each and every place I went, each and every place I go, I find a new piece of myself. Every country, every state, every city, has influenced who I am at this very moment.
I’ve learned more about what I want to accomplish in my life, what type of careers I’m interested in and what’s truly important to me. I’ve learned to have confidence in myself, my judgements and my opinions. I’ve learned how to be alone and how to be comfortable with my thoughts and my feelings. I now have no problem admitting defeat, asking for help, talking to a stranger or putting my trust in others.
I’ve become more empathetic and understanding. More creative and resourceful. I’m no longer afraid to take risks or to put myself out there. Traveling has made me who I am. Travel is who I am. I’m a better person because of it.
My advice to all you 20-somethings:
Travel abroad. Study abroad. Live abroad. Work abroad. You don’t have as much time as you may think. Take control of your own life and your own happiness. Learn who you are and what you want before you settle. Don’t wait for anyone else, don’t hold yourself back. Just go.
If you still need more convincing, here’s an inside look at my past year. Man, 2015 sure was amazing!!
Subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow along in 2016!