I have travelled a lot in my mere 21 years, and I think it is one of the most important things to do in life, especially when you are young and you are trying to figure out who you are as a person. I have travelled with my family and I have travelled with two companies: Blyth and Global Experiences. While yes, I will admit it, I do come from a fortunate place where my parents have helped me with expenses, I will also say that I have met so many people who have made it work on their own, giving everyone hope that they can travel without the bank of mom and dad.
By travelling, I do not mean going away for a weekend; I mean staying abroad for months or weeks at a time, really immersing yourself into a culture and new way of life. While there is great value in weekend getaways, because sometimes you just need a break from reality, I find that the overall life experiences are not equivalent.
One of the most important things travelling has allowed me to do is to get out of my comfort zone, both physically and emotionally. Travelling has allowed me to go bungee jumping at one of the world’s first bungee jumping places in New Zealand and heli skiing in British Columbia, but it has also allowed me to be able to go up to new people and introduce myself without fear and with confidence. By doing this, I have met some of my best friends. It has also given me the chance to make fast and important connections. I am not alone in this, as when my friend Katie Nolan, whom I met travelling, and I were talking about this subject she said, “I learned that being independent, but quickly being able to connect with someone and make a friend is easy and a good skill to have.”
While I consider myself a very independent person (I was lucky to have had a very easy time adjusting to living away for university), I also learned the value of family and friendship while I was abroad for the first time. It is easy to forget to appreciate people who are in your life constantly, but when you take a step back and are very far away from said people for a period of time—and they are not just a couple hours’ car drive away—you really learn how much they influence and better your life. Contrastingly, some of my friends that I met abroad were having their first experience living away from their parents, which was really hard for them at the start but they eventually learned to value their new found independence. Learning about yourself and gaining that independence is one of the many reasons I believe travelling is beneficial.
When travelling, you met people with the same ideals and values. They know what it is like to pass on the latest smartphone, or work those extra shifts in order to be able to explore the world. You also learn to live life with an open mind. You get to try things that you are not sure if you will actually enjoy or not, and if you don’t that is perfectly okay but at least you tried.
The most important thing about travelling, I think, is finding out about yourself and exploring who you really are as a person. You get to explore new cultures and beliefs and in a way that you cannot do in your hometown. You many find you have a new favourite dish, or you may find that you are actually not sure about your religion after all. But the best part is, besides exploring and seeing new parts of the world, is that you find out who your true authentic self is without the pressures of the society you grew up in telling you who you are. Explore the world, and explore yourself.
My advice is to go without the latest iPhone, save your money, work those extra shifts, and travel. Money can be re-made, but life experiences can never be replaced. And trust me, once you start travelling, your wanderlust will continue to flourish and so will your true self.