The Connection Between Travel and Mapping Out Your Dream Life:
By: Ruby Dunmore
As you graduate high school and transition into a job or into college, you may find a series of questions on repeat in your mind
“Am I on the right path?” “What do I want?” “What’s next for me?”
The 20s represent a time of massive change and growing up. A time when you are fresh out of high school or college, you start a job, experience love, heartbreak, loss… the list goes on. Amidst this period of chaos and transition, it’s easy to become detached from who you are at your core.
The reality is, with such limited knowledge of the world and of yourself, you have no tools to answer these “who are you” and “what do you want” questions. Questions that alter the direction of your entire life. It’s easy to settle with what’s right in front of you. However, if you are someone who craves more, it's crucial you embrace that feeling.
Those who crave more in this way are craving a catalyst for internal transformation. They want to be able to answer these questions and still stay true to who they are at their core.
What better catalyst than travel?
Traveling will put you in uncomfortable situations that prove to be metamorphic to your growth, allowing you to develop a greater understanding of the world and of yourself. At a time in life when you are young, full of energy, and free from most major commitments, your 20s are the prime time to undergo the intense transformation that travel offers.
Below I will dive into the specific incentives behind why you should travel in your 20s.
Peak Energy, Health, and Enthusiasm:
One of the key reasons to travel in your 20s is that you are young and have the energy and vitality to embrace the physical demands of travel. This can be especially important if you are planning to embark on longer trips or take part in more physically demanding activities and travel days. This may include staying out late to explore a new city, trying new activities, or simply being more open to new experiences and opportunities.
Furthermore, with youthful energy, you can get more out of your travel experience while also staying on a budget. For instance, in order to afford a trip through central Europe you may have to make a few fiscal sacrifices. Sacrifices like traveling with only a backpack, sleeping in a series of the cheapest hostels you can find, and surviving off of caffeine, packaged snacks, and pure wanderlust. But that’s all part of the adventure. Your ability to adapt is what allows you to experience the lifelong lessons and memories that come along with travel.
No Family, Partner, Job, Mortgage, or Major Commitments:
If you are looking to take a break from your daily routine, escape your hometown, explore the world, and learn about yourself all at the same time there is no better time to do that than in your 20s. Your 20s represent a time of utmost independence and freedom.
The chances of you being single, childless, and mortgage-less are much higher in your 20s. Without these constraints, you have no reason to NOT be selfish. You can make the internal and external shifts in your lifestyle just for you. By taking advantage of the freedom and flexibility you have in your 20s, you allow yourself to undergo the transformative change that goes hand in hand with travel before making any of the major decisions that follow your 20s.
Create Lasting Memories and Stories:
The memories you create in your 20s are ones that you will cherish your entire life. It's up to you if you want those recalled memories to be a repeat of the same activities in the same places with the same people OR if you want them to be straight out of a movie: in the most extraordinary places with people you could have never dreamt up. Whether you are exploring new cities, trying new foods, or experiencing different cultures, traveling can provide a wealth of opportunities to create such memorable moments. These memories can be a source of joy and inspiration for years to come, as well as provide you with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. I promise you, 10 years from now, the room will go quiet when you casually say “oh yeah I quit my job, backpacked through Thailand and spent the day with a monk who changed the course of my life. I actually wouldn’t be sitting in this room if it wasn’t for what he told me.”
In addition, the memories you make while traveling in your 20s can also be an avenue in which you can connect with others and share your experiences. Whether you are sharing stories with friends and family, or posting about your travels on social media, the memories you make while traveling serve as a great way to connect outwardly and share your unique perspective on the world.
Gain Independence and Improve Problem-Solving Skills:
The expectations of the outside world live as incessant voices in your head. Your decisions are so heavily influenced by these voices that it’s nearly impossible to figure out what you truly want. Each day you are told what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. Your family, friends, and social media feeds have all bombarded your psyche with what you SHOULD be doing. With such extreme and constant comparison, it’s easy for your individuality to get lost in this process. You may be trying to do the right thing for you but also trying to please these voices at the same time. You are stuck in a trap of appeasement.
Traveling in your 20s can be a great way to gain the independence and problem-solving skills needed to escape this trap. By traveling, you will be forced to make your own decisions, navigate new terrain, and solve problems on your own. This can help you develop a greater sense of self-reliance and confidence which are invaluable skills in any area of your life.
Without your routine and the normalcy of your day to day life, you are flooded with a sense of freedom and autonomy that may not be possible without the experience of travel. This can include the freedom to explore new places, try new foods, meet different types of people, and make your own choices independent from any external expectation. As you find yourself in different pockets of the world, you also uncover your independence, freedom, and capability. You went on a solo trip across the entire globe, and found a home somewhere you didn’t even know existed, so what can’t you do?
Shift in Perspective:
Traveling in your 20s can be a great way to broaden or shift your perspective. By visiting new places and experiencing new cultures, you see the world from different angles, allowing you to develop a more open and curious attitude.
Comparing and contrasting your own culture with others, allows you to gain a greater understanding of what is important to you, and what you want out of life. Maybe you make the realization that in order to reach a point of pure joy and fulfillment it is not a matter of WHAT you do, but HOW you do. Someone could be making a living baking bread in France, scuba diving in the Philippines, or bartending in England, yet they are all some of the happiest individuals you ever met.
Through immersion in the human experience outside of your bubble, you develop a more adaptable way of thinking about what “normal” is. As you interact with people from different walks of life, it exposes you to new perspectives and ways of thinking. In the process of experiencing the world in this way, you begin to detach from your preconceived idea of “normal” and “expected.” You see there's no right or wrong way to go about life and you have full freedom to choose for yourself.
Meet New People and Make Lasting Connections:
Traveling in your 20s can be a great way to meet a wide variety of people from different backgrounds, ages, and walks of life. By interacting with the locals or any other fellow travelers you run into along the way, you make connections that can alter your life. The fact that you are away from any type of familiarity makes for especially deep and meaningful social interactions. Whether you are seeking recommendations for your next trip, or simply looking for someone to talk to about your experiences, the connections you make while traveling can provide you with a valuable network of friends and support.
Influence Future Career Opportunities:
Going hand in hand with making connections, traveling can be a great way to explore different career options as well as gain valuable experience that can help you on your career path. By visiting new places and interacting with people from different industries and professions, you will be able to learn about different careers and job opportunities that you may not have been aware of before. This can be especially valuable if you are still trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, as many 20- somethings are. Travel can provide you with valuable information and insights that can help you make a career decision that has been informed by worldly experience.
In addition, travel can also provide you with the opportunity to gain valuable experience that can help you build your resume and stand out in the job market. Whether you are volunteering, interning, or working/ studying abroad, the skills and experience you gain while traveling can be a valuable asset that can help you get a job or advance your career.
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.”
-C. Joybell C.
Traveling is a giant, scary leap into the unknown, but as any traveler will tell you, it is worth every ounce of discomfort. The discoveries you make by walking off the beaten trail will sculpt you into a person who knows them self, knows the world, and craves to know more of both.
Get uncomfortable. GET LOST.
Future you will thank you.