I’ve read article after article about why 20-somethings should travel now instead of waiting UNTIL… They graduate. Get a job. Have more money. Fill in the blank. Most articles summarize the same idea, but I keep reading them. Some stuff I agree with, some I don’t. Nonetheless, I keep reading. And after a few trips under my belt, here’s my version.
Why You Should Travel Now:
1. Planning and saving for a trip can help you master self control. Nothing teaches you to post-pone instant gratification like saving every penny so you can see the Eiffel Tower in six months.
2. Trekking through America’s wilderness, battling lines at Chinese bus stations and dodging death in tiny German towns teaches you something about yourself and the person you’re with. It changes your relationship, and how could it not? You learn to laugh, forgive and appreciate each other in a new way. Also, you have buckets of remember when (we missed that train) stories to share for years.
3. When you travel you get to see how other people live their lives. If you’re lucky, you’ll absorb the good, learn from the bad and appreciate the difference.
4. Traveling reminds you how sweet your life is back home. And more often than not, it reminds you not to take for granted your everyday luxuries.
5. It’s easier (and cheaper!) than you think. Ever hear of air miles? Couch surfing? Study abroad? Teaching ESL? Volunteering with WWOOF? In 2011, my husband and I taught ESL and traveled in China for a year. We came home with 10 grand. We just returned from a 6-week trip in Western Europe with a budget just over that amount. Using reward credit cards on the trip, we’ve already earned enough points for another roundtrip overseas.
6. A broader perspective gives you a better base for making smart, world-friendly decisions.
7. Whether she is a tour guide in London, a sheep farmer in Ireland or a university student in central China, you see that despite our differences, we’re all kind of the same.
8. There’s something awesome about standing in the middle of a crowded museum or an empty forest and realizing just how small and insignificant you are in the world. Those troubles you thought you had back home? Manageable for sure.
9. The world could use a little bit more compassion, yeah? What better way to facilitate that then to live a day in someone else’s world?
10. Did you know Irish drivers will always let you in? That French Fries were invented in Belgium? That Stonehenge feels like more than just a pile of rocks when you’re standing right beside it? Some stuff you just can’t learn in a book.
More than just pictures and T-shirts, when you travel in your 20s you take home a broader perspective on the world and the people who live in it. Life wasn’t meant to be spent working all day and watching TV all night. Money is much better spent on lifetime experiences than one-time indulgences. Quit making excuses – travel now!