Those of a certain age always have memories of times where things were simpler, but as a college or graduate student, those times can seem like less of a reality. The ability to do adventures, like travel, can seem like a “luxurious hobby” rather than something actionable. It may be hard to believe, but this is the perfect time for you to travel. A desire to see the world is all you need, and here are six reasons why you should consider going abroad sooner rather than later.
Traveling Young Offers More Opportunities
The thought of going to a foreign country may seem unthinkable, but the younger you are (especially after the age of 18), the more opportunities you are given to travel abroad for a lower cost or even for free.
The most common option is studying abroad. While the rules of studying abroad differ depending on the university you attend, it often involves studying for a short-term in a foreign university with English-speaking professors. You are given the time to explore and experience the country for the 4 – 8 months you’re there. There are various scholarships and grants available for those studying abroad as well, which makes it more economical.
Volunteering can make a summer, winter, or Gap Year break more worthwhile. Various organizations provide opportunities to help those underprivileged or just in need of assistance. From providing a hand on a sheep farm in Australia to helping kids in third world countries with Operation Smile, the opportunities available allow you to help others and experience the world at no or a low cost.
Traveling Allows You to Discover Yourself
You’d be surprised how many individuals I’ve met while abroad who have mentioned how much travel influenced their life course. Helping out on a farm could expose you to the experiences that may want you to switch your major. Maybe that all-expenses-paid teaching job in South Korea pulled at your heartstrings and made you want to pursue a career in education. The experiences you are given through travel while young, can truly shape what you want to do when you’re age becomes more advanced.
Traveling Increase Your Confidence
Last month, I was about to leave a hotel and wanted to have a final look-around to ensure I didn’t forget anything. I did have everything, but one important item: my travel pack, which had my wallet and passport. I freaked inwardly but was in action mode outwardly.
When I finally recovered the pack in the nick of time, relief wasn’t the only thing that came over me. This experience, a little fifteen-minute sliver of my two-week trip, taught me lessons of independence and the ever-useful life lesson of thinking on your toes about how to handle a problem in a mature way.
It may seem like a small experience to those who haven’t traveled, but to a traveler, your wallet and passport are the two things that ensure you have a place to stay thousands of miles away from home and your symbol as an American traveler.
As a traveler, you’ll experience situations when you have to think on your feet or be placed in an awkward, lost-in-translation experience. This is what creates confident individuals in the end, who have broken out of their shell. This is something that can only be experienced when you have the time and energy of a young adult.
Traveling Young Breaks the Tourist Mold
Extending on the point made above, traveling young is the perfect time to become a true traveler, not simply a tourist. A tourist is someone who fears the alternative path, opting for popular sightseeing before returning to his or her four-star hotel. A traveler doesn’t have a problem staying in a hostel or two-star hotel, and taking the path less traveled. These are the acts that allow a young traveler to experience what others may not.
While your friends, with their wives and kids, may have their best memories of their latest trip to Egypt riding the camels while viewing the pyramids, yours as a young traveler may be trying new delicacies before playing an impromptu game of soccer with your new Egyptian friends.
The difference between a tourist and a traveler isn’t always based on the places visited, but more on the experiences and connections taken from where you’ve been. This may not be possible with having two little travel companions and a spouse.
Traveling Advances You Professionally
When exposed to a foreign language, the longer you find yourself abroad, the more of the language you absorb.
Those who haven’t traveled before may find it unimaginable how native English speakers can leave the United States with only basic conversational skills and come back in a couple of months with a professional level command of the language.
Going abroad puts you in situations when you learn words as you go along. When a traveler has a basic exposure to the language and its rules before leaving the states, they have a higher chance of coming back with a better command of it. This is by no means a useless feature of an employable adult.
Various companies, both in the private sector and in the government, are clamoring over young adults who can speak a second language. This could prove to your parents that your year abroad in Morocco could reap much larger rewards once you return home!
Traveling Allows You to Put Myths to Rest
Finally, and best of all, traveling young when your worldview is still being molded can allow you to become an advocate against the myths and misconceptions that may be placed on the country you visited. You experience firsthand how the people in that country viewed you as an American, as a woman, or as a young adult.
Returning from such a country, you are able to either quash or provide a different perspective to myths about a country. Not all individuals are painted with the same brush stroke, and travel allows you to grow compassion and common ground with those who aren’t the same as you. This is by far the best lesson of a young traveler.
So what’s keeping you from traveling? Let us know in the comments below and let’s start a conversation.