Why You Should Travel While You’re Still Young

If you’re worried about embarking on a travel adventure and wondering whether it’ll negatively affect your life, the simple answer is “no, it won’t.” In fact, when you stop to take a closer look at it, the benefits considerably outweigh the risks.

While in the past it may have looked like a frivolous undertaking, nowadays it’s considered a character-defining experience. If you have the chance to travel now, take it without thinking as your future-self will be forever grateful for the lessons, friends, and memories you will make.

1. You Have Fewer Responsibilities

There’s a reason most people traveling for longer periods tend to be young — it’s a lot easier when you don’t have responsibilities waiting for you back at home. When you have kids, pets, a house, or a promising career, it’s a lot harder to give it all up to stay a year or two on the road.

Apart from your studies, there isn’t much holding you down, unless you have a sick relative or passionate relationship. It’s no wonder many youngsters tend to take gap years just before or after college.

2. It’s the University of Life

Traveling is a great and fast way to acquire important life skills. Depending on your upbringing, you probably learn basic chores at home like cleaning or doing the laundry but tend to learn more skills when you live alone or at college halls such as budgeting, doing the groceries, and paying the bills.

However, when you start traveling, you’re thrown in the deep end and learn all these skills in one go. No one is going to pick up your dirty socks or cook for you, you either learn or you’ll end up stinky and hungry.

3. It May Shape Your Future Forever

Have you ever met someone who came back from a long trip and seemed like a completely different person?

Traveling is as much as having a good time as it is about a road to self-awareness. It’s not uncommon for people to find their calling on a trip, exactly because they’re experiencing things they wouldn’t otherwise have done at home.

Sometimes people simply fall in love with a destination and decide to move there permanently. It could be the lifestyle, the weather, or the connections they created in the place. Other times people find a partner, move to his or her home country and create a new life together.

4. You’re Healthy and Fit

Some people underestimate the fact that they won’t be fit forever. While you may see older people skydiving or bungee jumping, which doesn’t require a strong and able body, you’ll rarely see them doing white water rafting or surfing.

When you’re young, you won’t think twice about taking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or maybe climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but that’s a completely different story for senior travelers. They might have a bad knee or a heart condition and will have to choose tours that are easier on their bodies.

5. It’ll Make You More Confident

The first time you arrive in a foreign country, you’re probably going to be ripped off by the taxi driver and be super annoyed when you find out the real price for the ride. By the end of the trip, however, you’ll know the exact prices, haggle the price down, and if the driver is stubborn, you’ll move on and take public transport.

Every experience you have on the road is a chance to learn something new, but this knowledge spills to all areas of your life. When you overcome an obstacle, you get more confident and quickly realize there isn’t anything you can’t figure out on your own.

6. You’ll Learn to Be More Frugal

When you start researching your upcoming trip, particularly about what to pack, you’ll undoubtedly come across articles about traveling light. The classic advice is to pick everything you’d like to take with you, halve it, and double the amount of money you budgeted.

As silly as it may sound, it’s actually solid advice. The moment you start moving from one country to another, you’ll understand you need a lot less than you previously thought. But this attitude toward material things stays with you and you’re more likely to buy what’s necessary than embracing a consumerist lifestyle.

7. It’ll Probably Boost Your Resume

Are you afraid your long-term trip will be a gap in your resume that’s hard to explain? Quite the contrary actually! Your adventures are the perfect fodder to showcase all the skills you learned along the way. If you reframe it in a positive way, it’s a win-win situation.

You can explain how meeting people from different countries improved your communication and interpersonal skills, that spending time in developing countries made you a more empathetic person, or you’re more comfortable taking on new challenges.

8. It’s Easier to Make Friends

While it may not be the case for everyone, the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. Older travelers tend to be young in their hearts but are less likely to stay in hostels and join a group of youngsters going on a loud pub crawl. They pick hotels and have a quiet relaxing night instead.

When it comes to young travelers, however, being alone is pretty much out of the question. Hostel dormitories and common areas are the perfect environments to meet people and start adventures together. More often than not, the friendships you make during your trips are intense and you’re likely to meet again in different parts of the world.

9. You’ll Become a More Interesting Person

Your character and personality are defined by the experiences you have and the lessons you learn along the way. It’s not that people who don’t travel don’t have interesting stories, but what are the odds that a monkey will steal their food when they go to the beach? Possibly none.

When you put yourself out there, you’re essentially increasing the chances of crazy things happening to you, good or bad. So, a story about being an extra in a Bollywood movie can be equally entertaining as the one about missing a bus and spending the night at the station.

10. It Can Broaden Your Perspectives

At the very least, travel will take you out of your bubble and teach you important life lessons, especially if you come from a developed country. The things you take for granted such as safety, decent infrastructure, or even hot water, might be a far away dream for someone living in a slum in India.

It’s not uncommon for people coming back from a long-term trip to join a charitable organization or go back to a country and start volunteering. They understand their privilege and try to make the world a better place for others as well.

11. You Won’t Need Luxuries

Young travelers have a very high level of tolerance when it comes to roughing it. First, because they probably don’t have the money to pay for extra comforts, and second, because they most likely don’t care.

So instead of paying for luxury, youngsters will happily sleep in a 24-people dorm and eat noodles all the time, if it means they can travel for longer. Older people, on the other hand, probably think a hostel is the same as a homeless shelter.

12. You’ll Learn Through Experience

No matter how many books you read about the pyramids or how many documentaries you watch about them, you can only truly understand their magnificence when you see them with your own eyes.

The same goes for the information the media tells us about other countries. When you can actually explore them, you realize they’re not as violent or as backward as you were led to believe.

13. You Won’t Regret It

“I wish I had never gone on that round-the-world trip,” said no one ever. When you start researching the top regrets of old people, most of the time it boils down to working less and enjoying life more.

No one knows how their life will be in five or 10 years time. The opportunities you have now, might not be available in the future and it can be a lot more painful to regret the things you didn’t do when you had the chance.

Remember that even if everything goes wrong, you’ll learn something and will have a great story to tell.

Mongkol Chuewong / Getty Images

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