I try not to “regret” things I have or haven’t done in my life. Travelling however, is one of those things that I regret not doing. I wish I’d gone travelling straight out of university. But I didn’t. And now I’m almost 30 and feel like I haven’t seen or experienced anywhere near as much as I’d liked to have done.
Personally, I don’t feel “too old” to travel and still plan to do it before I settle down and start a family. I do however, think there’s some huge benefits to travelling whilst you’re still young…
1. It Makes You More Independent…
There’s nothing like packing a bag and setting off on an adventure alone to help gain independence. It’s about making decisions, whether good or bad, for yourself. From choosing the next place to visit to what to eat at a street market, those decisions are all yours. Sometimes you’ll make the wrong decisions but you’ll learn from them and that’s important.
Whether you travel alone or with other people, you will learn to look after yourself (and probably others too!)
2…at a Time Where You Have Little Responsibility
Your twenties is the best time to travel. Before you have a “real job”, before you have children, before you have a mortgage…basically, before you have any real responsibilities. Like I mentioned above, your independence is a huge part of this, not only are you learning how to be independent from your parents/family/primary school friends but you’re also independent in terms of those depending upon you.
Now is one of the only times you can be totally selfish and spontaneous. Want to spend 6 months travelling around Europe? You can. Want to change your flight to Sydney to Rio instead? You can. There’s nothing stopping you from doing whatever you want to apart from yourself (and maybe money).
3. You Have the Energy
Travelling might sound like an extended holiday but it’s not. Okay, well it is kind of but it sure as hell isn’t relaxing. Constantly moving from place and place and exploring every mile of every country is hard work!
A lot of people will need to work whilst they travel too to sustain their nomadic lifestyle. Energy is a must if you plan to be out on an adventure all day, working in the evening and partying all night – definitely something that works better in your twenties! I’m fairly confident I could keep up with that for a fair few more years but I certainly wouldn’t be too happy about it.
4. You’ll Make New Friends
Possibly one of the best parts of travelling is meeting new people and hearing about their adventures. I mean this one isn’t age specific really but as I’ve got closer to 30 I’ve liked people less! Haha!
But seriously, travelling helps you to meet other people that you might not otherwise have the pleasure of meeting. Once you finish uni, you usually only meet new people through work or through sports clubs etc. Travelling doesn’t confine you to these things. You’ll be surprised by how many, completely different, totally lovable people you’ll meet.
Making new friends isn’t something that you can only do whilst you’re still young but it’s something I would recommend doing as early on as possible so that you can make the most of those friends in the years ahead of you!
5. You Learn a LOT
About Yourself – At different points during your travels you will be faced with tough decisions and forced to confront some of your fears (if not all). Going to new places and meeting new people shows you who you really are and what you are truly capable of. You’ll find yourself spending long periods of time alone (like overnight flights) just thinking about things. Things you’ve done, things you want to achieve…the list goes on and it’s wonderful!
About Others – This is kind of covered above (making new friends) and below (learning about different cultures). You will learn a lot about other people, partially due to the huge range of people you will meet and partially due to the time you’ll spend with them. Travelling gives you the opportunity to essentially live with people you’ve never met before without the stresses of living with people you’ve never met before! You’re not tied down and there’s no pressure. You can just enjoy each other’s company, explore and learn together.
About Life – Yeah. This one’s a biggie. It’s also really hard to explain. You’ll learn so much about everything when you’re travelling. You’ll learn through mistakes you make. You will pick up hints and tips from others along the way. You’ll draw inspiration from pretty much everything you see in some way or another. You will think about your future plans and change them on a weekly basis and it will be amazing. And so, so, so good for you!
6. You Get to Explore Different Places and Learn About Different Cultures
I’ve said this a million times before but travelling is good for you. Getting to learn about, experience and appreciate different cultures is amazing for self-development. You’ll gain a whole wealth of knowledge that lots of people won’t even get close to in their life time.
Experiencing new cultures and learning about different ways of life is not only eye-opening but it’s empowering too. It gives you a whole variety of new ways to look at things, approaching situations and even dealing with problems.
7. You’re (Usually) Less Fussy
Bunk beds in a dorm room are usually acceptable…not so much when you’re in your 30s and 40s! As is sleeping on the floor of a friend of a friend’s apartment and taking a 24 hour bus rather than a 2 hour flight. If you decide to travel before you get “comfortable” and stuck in your ways, you’ll enjoy it so much more. Generally speaking, you’ll be much more open to different opportunities and ways of doing things. I know that younger me would have been perfectly content in a dorm full of drunken 20-something-year-olds, whereas now, that’s my worst nightmare (well, not actually my worst but it’s close)!
8. You’ll Appreciate Things
The memories and experiences of travelling will stay with you for life. You’ll be grateful for the things you learned and people you met. You’ll also be grateful for what you had at home, the people and the things you missed whilst you were away.
You’ll appreciate things no matter what age you decide to go travelling but your angle will be different. The earlier you go, the longer you’ll have to appreciate it and apply it to your every day life and decisions.
I feel slightly hypocritical writing this given that I don’t plan on going travelling until well into my 30’s. But these are things I have learnt from the travelling I did do in my 20’s and the reasons I wish I had travelled more earlier.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your passport and go explore!