I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve heard countless times, “You have to travel while you’re young.”
Do I have to?
And you will never regret it.
When you are young, you have such a bounty of opportunity.
You have so much freedom. You have the choice. The 9-5 job will always be there when you come back, I promise you. Regardless, nothing makes a resume sparkle like international experience. And you’ll be doing something different, you crazy explorer!
When you are young, you do not have excuses.
Yes, you might have a major student loan. Yes, you might have a girlfriend. So what? Money should never be an excuse. And if she’s worth it, she will still be there. You won’t always be young, and life won’t always be about you. If you have responsibilities and obligations now, just imagine how bogged down you will be in the future — take the opportunity, you young light soul!
When you are young, you have so much to learn.
You’ve just spent your entire life in the school system, and you think that was an education? Imagine standing in the middle of the Colosseum, and in the same day walking the halls of the Sistine Chapel. You’ve studied Rome, but breathing in history is something else. You might have majored in Spanish, but you only learn first-hand in Cadiz how to correctly execute the Spanish lisp. And you will understand being educated is different than becoming cultured.
When you are young, you need to experience compassion.
Many of us have become so blinded by our consumerism filled lives, that we forget to be thankful. But if you pass through San Jose, Costa Rica, you might see humans eating trash, or a man with a machine gun guarding your hotel door, and it will break your heart. And you will re-learn the word privilege. Because that is what you are — if you’ve got food and shelter, you are privileged. And it will humble you.
When you are young, you are more approachable.
If you are blonde, you will most likely be followed by a mysterious Croatian man who will propose to you. And if you are a girl you will probably be overwhelmed with attention — most often unwanted. But it will make you stronger. And chances are, these encounters will all turn into incredibly interesting stories.
When you are young, you are ready to be empowered.
You finally get to do what you want. The world is a stunning place, and it’s ever ready to be your playground. You want to go save the turtles? Do it. You want to backpack Europe? No better time. You will dip your feet in crystal clear water in the French Riviera. You will race with your friends in dark streets to catch the last bus into Athens. You will be invited into the Sacromonte cave homes in Granada and encounter real gypsies. You will develop fast and deep relationships. You will depend on an Aussie and an Irish lad to keep you safe while enjoying a semi-dangerous Puerto Viejo. You will travel solo and fall in love with yourself. And that’s what it’s all about.
You could grow old and always regret not taking the opportunity to go out and explore. Or you could grow old and be that cool uncle with all the awesome stories of the ins-and-outs of Amsterdam. And you are young, and it is finally your choice. You can do whatever you want with your life.
But you’ve said yes to many things in the past that didn’t mean a whole lot. Yes to showing up to an 8am class for information you can’t regurgitate today. Yes to paying for an outrageous bar tab — a round of drinks for the cute sorority girls who didn’t give you their numbers. Yes to buying into fashion and dropping hundreds on a dress that is so unique you decide you can only wear once.
So why not say yes to travel?
Traveling will change you like nothing else you could imagine.
It will mean a whole lot. Guaranteed.
So, chase the life of adventure. Get to know the world. Sparkle with wanderlust. Just do it. While you still can.