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7 Reasons You Should Travel While You’re Young

7 Reasons You Should Travel While You’re Young

I have been very fortunate to travel extensively throughout the world while still young. I have visited most of the continental United States, plus many cities in Alaska and Hawaii. I also traveled abroad to Africa, Switzerland, Ireland, Great Britain, Scotland, France, Mexico, and Bonaire. I then lived for several years in Grenada, West Indies. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world, and I still have so many countries yet to visit. Based on my experience, I recommend every young person get out of their hometown and see what’s out there. Here are seven ways traveling changed me forever.

1. Traveling changes the way you relate to the world.

I grew up in a tiny rural town. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to travel when I was younger, I would have a difficult time envisioning much else outside my comfortable country bubble. When you travel to other countries and see the amazing beauty of sunsets over seas, eagles riding mountain currents, monkeys swinging through rain forests, grizzlies catching salmon in the rapids, majestic waterfalls spilling off vertical drops, and volcanoes smoking under their fiery breath, you realize the world is full of more beauty that you are capable of seeing in a lifetime. But, you still have the intense passion to try.

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If you don’t see this when you are younger, you have less desire to venture out when you are older and have job and family constraints in play. If I didn’t know what I was missing, I would have less of a desire to put the effort into taking the time to travel. You also develop a deeper sense of obligation to save our planet’s beauty for the coming generations. After all, you’ve seen it firsthand, and it’s worth saving!

2. Traveling changes the way you relate to others.

Unfortunately, the area I grew up in didn’t have much diversity. Everyone looked and acted basically the same. When I traveled, I learned about other cultures. I realized that my life could be enriched by developing friendships with people who didn’t look or act like me. Far from my hometown, I developed friendships with people who were nothing like me, but were exactly what I needed. This taught me to embrace, not fear, experiences and relationships that were outside my comfort zone. It also taught me the importance of communication skills. Let’s just say I paid a lot better attention during college Spanish class after visiting Mexico, and perked up in French class after my time in France and Africa.

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3. Traveling humbles you enough to realize it’s not all about you.

The older I become, the more I realize I actually know very little about life. It seems the confidence of knowing it all is usually graced upon the young. However, the sooner that bubble bursts, the better; at least in my case. Traveling sometimes puts you in tough situations. You see that the world is so much bigger than your perspective on it. You soon realize the world doesn’t revolve around you. You learn that you really weren’t the big fish in the ocean, but just a tiny minnow in a pothole.

Now, that doesn’t mean you aren’t still important, but it does change your perspective to be more open to learning from other people and situations vs lecturing and bestowing your vast wisdom to those lucky enough to be in earshot. Traveling teaches you to let go of the perceived concept of control. You learn that it’s a big enough challenge to just control yourself, and learn to give up trying to do so for the rest of the planet.

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4. Traveling empowers you to take on new challenges.

Just as traveling is humbling, it is also empowering. You realize you can do things you never thought possible. For example, I have lived for the past two years in Grenada, West Indies. I have always enjoyed driving on the right side of nicely paved and open roads of the U.S. Here, I was thrown into driving on the left side of the road on twisty mountain passes down broken roads that aren’t much bigger than a one-lane driveway, yet they expect two-way traffic to freely meet around the blind corners. Add to the lovely mix the fact that there are drop-offs with no guard rail along most of the drive, and far below the sheer free fall you see the rooftops of homes.

So, if I lose control, I not only kill myself, but I land on a house and kill a nice family having dinner. No pressure! Yet, after more than a few white-knuckled moments, I can now drive comfortably with the locals and don’t bat an eye at the drop offs, the livestock in the road, the pot holes, or the fact that there is no way I should have made it through that tight squeeze with that oncoming car without losing a mirror. Conquering this fear helped me learn that I could adapt to more than I felt I was capable of conquering. I think that’s a good thing to learn at any age, but you can apply it longer throughout your lifetime if you start early.

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5. Traveling gives you empathy for global suffering.

When you travel, you learn how much you truly have that you take for granted. Many people live in poverty that is unfathomable to those who have never walked their streets and heard their stories. Watching the wars and famines on the news takes on a whole new meaning when you have a personal connection with the people there. You lose the callousness and egotistic attitude that can sometimes develop when you can’t relate to that region of the world. And, it compels you to help others and give back.

6. Traveling pushes your educational horizons.

Sadly, I never liked history in school. Just reading the stories in books seemed so boring to me. However, when I visited the palace of Versailles in France, marveled at the architecture of basilicas in Africa, climbed the ruins of castles in Ireland, visited the White House, and walked the halls of the Louvre, I couldn’t help but get a new appreciation for history. Traveling makes history come alive. The stories are no longer pictures in a book, but tangible memories you remember much longer than anything you could study in school.

7. We are never guaranteed old age, so enjoy life’s experiences now!

I think a lot of young people put off traveling because they want to be responsible, work hard, get married, have kids, and build up a life. However, I think it’s a mistake to put off traveling in exchange for the belief that you can do it when you retire and have more time. While I certainly plan to continue to travel after I retire, I also realize I am not guaranteed old age. If something happens and I don’t live to see my forties, fifties, or sixties, I will have no regrets. I have experienced the world to the best of my ability by taking every opportunity presented to me to see all of this gorgeous planet that I can. Traveling has made me the person that I am, and I’m so grateful that I have plenty of years left with this version of me to continue the adventure.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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