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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 December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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