1. If you don’t take the first step, you’ll never do it.
It’s so easy to get stuck in this cycle of “I’m going to go — I can’t go right now — I’ll go next year — I’m going to go,” and never get out of it. There is, after all, a lot of logistics that go into getting out there and seeing the places you’ve always wanted to see. If you’re looking for one, there is always an excuse not to get those tickets. But the second you take the plunge and decide that you’re actually going (and making the painful-but-necessary financial investments to do so), everything else has a tendency to fall into place.
2. It’s less expensive than you think.
While the purchases of things like tickets are always going to sting a bit, there are so many ways to make your travels feasible to do on the cheap. If a hostel is too pricey for you (though there are many which offer beds at 15 bucks a night or even less in major cities), couch surfing is a wonderful option. If you don’t know anyone, check any of the many websites which organize couch surfers. (Speaking personally, I and almost all of my friends in Paris have hosted couch surfers at one time or another, because we understand that it’s a city so many people want to see at some point, and we don’t always have a ton of disposable income to do so.) It’s actually incredibly fun for hosts to meet new people and be able to see their city through new eyes. They can also help you eat cheap, local food and shop places where you won’t be another ripped-off tourist. It’s win-win, and practically free. (Of course, it’s always encouraged that you buy a meal or bottle of wine for your host, and help with chores when possible — but still, that’s nothing compared to a hotel.)
3. You don’t ever have to be alone.
Whether you meet people in your hostel, stay on someone’s couch, or join an online travel group before you go which organizes meetups for people passing through the city, there is never a reason to be alone while traveling if you don’t want to. Being young and in a new city is one of the easiest ways to meet tons of people, and gives you a million things to talk about in every conversation with a stranger. It’s a time you don’t have to be afraid of first impressions, or the baggage of your life back home. Everything and everyone is a clean slate, and you can meet as many people as you want on your journey.
4. But you can be alone if you want.
If you are more interested in spending some alone time, however, there are a million ways to go about that. You can just leave for a day and go wander around a new city, taking everything in and being at peace with your own thoughts. You can take pictures or sit down in cafes and write about everything you see, and don’t have to be on anyone’s schedule. It’s rare that we get these kind of moments back home, and we owe it to ourselves to have them once in a while, if it’s what we want.
5. Plane travel is an adventure in itself.
Just the act of getting in a plane and feeling it take off, or navigating the byzantine chaos of an airport in early morning, can be a thrilling experience that we easily forget we can have. There is something terribly frightening but also wonderfully life-affirming about the moments before takeoff, or the glimpses of patchwork fields you can get from over the wing. Even the often-disappointing selection of airplane food becomes something wonderful and exotic when you’re going somewhere you’ve been dreaming about for years. It’s a moment that means you got out, that you overcame the false starts, and that something new is waiting for you.
6. Once you get there, moving around is easier.
Take, for example, Europe. You come primarily to see Rome, but you want to get around and see other things. Between cheap train tickets with the 12-30 discount cards, incredibly cheap airlines that hop between European cities, and car shares that are easily accessible online and can cross entire countries in a few hours, there are limitless ways to get from one place to another once you’ve already taken the leap across the ocean. Whichever continent you’re headed to, though, you’ll find that (in many ways thanks to the internet) the means of shorter travel to make the most out of a single trip are growing exponentially every day.
7. You never know what will happen when you get there.
It’s so cliché, but it’s said often for a reason. You can spend years rationalizing how you aren’t missing that much by not going, or how you don’t want to risk not having a good time, or that you won’t know what to do when you get there, but the truth is you have no point of reference. The amount of incredible things that you could happen on your trip is literally unimaginable. You can say that you don’t need to see it, but you really have no way of knowing exactly what you’re missing out on.
8. You will invariably learn something about yourself.
It can be as simple as, “I can navigate a foreign city by myself and get around with a language book full of only useful phrases. I can use my limited skills to get good food, accommodations, and meet new friends.” Even this is an incredibly important and affirming thing to know about oneself, and the only way to learn it is to get out and see what happens when you try.
9. It’s good to get out.
No matter how much you love your current place of residence, it’s just all-around a good thing to get out every now and again and see some new surroundings. You are able to put some comparison up against the corner bars you are used to, the restaurants you frequent, the architecture you’re surrounded by, and the public transportation you use every day. While you may end up finding that you prefer where you came from, it’s nice to see just how much of our own cities we take for granted as being universal, and even how the buzz of a city around dusk can feel completely different in a climate which is almost identical. Cities have their own lives and personalities, and we sometimes forget that ours is far from being the only kind out there.
10. There are so many people you haven’t met yet.
Maybe you won’t meet the love of your life waiting to cross a street in a foreign city. Maybe you won’t have a whirlwind two weeks with them where you explore your new environment and learn the first fumbling steps of a new language. Maybe you won’t end up remembering this city for the rest of your life as the place where everything wonderful first began. But maybe you will, and that’s reason enough to go.