10 Reasons Every 20-Something Should Travel
I can see you now: you’re in a large university lecture hall or hiding in your cubicle, daydreaming about how you’d like to be anywhere but where you are. I don’t blame you. I’ve been where you are now. I know exactly how you feel.
Whether it’s a terrible boss, a bout of depression, a bad breakup, or the fear of finding a career after college weighing you down, know that it’s actually still a wonderful time to travel. Don’t feel like you’re running from something because you want to enjoy far-away landscapes. In fact, if you do go, you might find out who you are and where you belong. You might even realize you were running toward something, not running away like the rest of the world had you believe.
If the above paragraph sounds like you, take it from me, your friend on the other side of the world: travel now, while you’re young and your obligations are limited. I’ve outlined below all of the reasons why.
1. You aren’t guaranteed forever.
The greatest truth of life is that everyday is a gamble. You could survive the next day, or it could be your last. Being in your 20s makes a lot of us take the time we have left for granted, and we don’t even know how much of it we actually have. If you want to travel, go now. Treat today as if it were your last day on Earth.
2. Traveling opens your mind to new things.
There is a whole world outside of your town, just waiting for you to explore it. You may not have to go far — perhaps looking just beyond your backyard can lead you to new and exciting places you didn’t even notice before. You don’t have to go all the way to Taiwan to learn something outside of your realm of experience.
3. Culture shock can be a learning experience.
If you are a looking to be challenged while traveling, nothing will teach you more than experiencing culture shock. When I first moved to Seoul, it took a long time for me to adjust to being stared at, talked about, and treated somewhat like a local celebrity. During my entire first month, I was scared to leave my apartment and explore for fear of getting lost. Getting through that kind of experience will only strengthen you.
4. Traveling can make you more motivated.
Becoming a teacher in Seoul allowed me to witness firsthand how hard some of these children work. Academic standards in Seoul are rigorous, and even if you do everything perfectly, there is no guarantee of future success. I felt far more motivated to achieve my own personal goals after witnessing this.
5. Traveling can humble you.
While I was in the Philippines visiting Taal Volcano, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing a man kick a dog that was minding its own business. Enraged, I stood up to yell at the man, sobbing and hyperventilating. Some people live in poverty, and there is a problem with stray dogs. I have a dog of my own back home, and I felt humbled by what I saw and deeply saddened at the poor dogs just trying to survive on the streets. I was humbled by the entire experience. You probably will have your own humbling experiences as well.
I highly recommend going to the Philippines if you can, for the culture, the people, and the food. Everyone will be kind and helpful to you, and the landscape is beautiful. It is truly a beautiful country, but standards are different.
6. It’s easier than you think.
Traveling is easy. Making the decision to follow through with your travel goals is the hard part. If you’re experiencing doubts, remember the reasons why you wanted to go abroad in the first place. Let that be your guiding light. You will never have enough money, and it will never be the right time. Something will always inevitably happen while you’re away, but that’s no reason not to go.
7. You’ll never be in better shape than you are now.
For most of us, we will never be healthier and more able-bodied than we are now. If you want to go snorkeling in Australia, or swim with Manatees in Florida, or skydive in New Zealand, or backpack around Asia, you’ll probably never be in better shape to do it.
8. You may end up proving something to yourself.
Many people don’t go into traveling — especially solo female travelers — thinking they are brave or doing something extraordinary; the truth is that they are being courageous and daring. To leave behind everything you know (including your sense of security) in the pursuit of adventure is very progressive and — perhaps to family and loved ones — a little crazy. Don’t let the fact that you’ve never traveled alone before deter you. Just be aware of where you’re going and the associated risks it poses. Take serious precautions to protect yourself.
9. You’ll learn how to appreciate being alone.
When you travel alone, you end up alone with your thoughts. This gives you time to be introspective and think about where you are, who you are, and what makes you happy. You may end up realizing traveling wasn’t the right choice for you. Or you may love it so much you never return to the previous life you had. Either way, you will have learned so much about yourself. That is a precious gift that is difficult to find elsewhere.
10. You’ll have fewer regrets down the road.
Don’t be one of those people who say “maybe someday.” More depressing words have never been spoken. Don’t make excuses for your own lack of following your dreams. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do what your heart and mind are telling you to do. All of our lives, we’ve been bombarded with messages from our loved ones about who we ought to be and what we ought to do, but ultimately, you’re the only person who has to deal with the consequences of your choices. Do you really want one of those consequences to be laying on your deathbed, wishing you’d gone on that trip to Costa Rica that you put off your entire life?
There will never be a better time to travel than now; start planning and get moving.