Original photo taken by Gabi Zerafa.
Your 20’s can be some of the best years of your life. You may be approaching your final year of college and you’re clueless with what you want to do for the rest of your life (hello!), or you could just be an adrenaline junkie looking for your next fix. Either way, traveling is a great way to meet new people, make new memories and open yourself up to new ideas and possibilities.
Here’s a list of reasons why I think you should book your next plane ticket now:
1. You gain practical experience that will always be beneficial.
I learned how to live with people from all over the world, share my space and ask for help when I really needed it. I can say I have shared a one bedroom apartment with three other girls and survived! I learned how to communicate my needs effectively and also compromise when I needed to. All of the experiences I had while traveling have taught me something that I can take back with me when I finally return to my “normal” life.
2. Traveling helps you remember the history lessons you forgot about during your freshman year of college.
Like the fact that England colonized the entire planet.
3. THE FOOD.
Oh man, don’t even get me started about the food. I strongly despised pizza in America but that’s because I was sheltered from the pure cheesy goodness that is an Italian pizza. The day an Italian man in Malta whipped me up a traditional pizza my life was forever changed. I feel bad for my old self.
I also fell in love with Dutch fries dipped in mayonnaise and peanut sauce and the unforgettable deep fried gravy known as bitterballen. Sounds weird but don’t hate!
4. You will meet new people that will impact your life forever.
Although you’ll probably run into the occasional a-hole, you’re also guaranteed to meet a ton of great people. Whether they’re locals or fellow travelers, these people will impact your life in ways you couldn’t imagine.
5. You will challenge yourself.
6. You will learn how to take care of yourself, mentally and physically.
I previously mentioned my episode of culture shock in this post, but I think it deserves to be brought up again. I was depressed, scared to be in unknown surroundings and I felt helpless. I wasn’t used to being so far away from home and I didn’t think I could manage the distance for such a long period of time (approximately 7 months). Luckily, with the help of my mom’s pep talk, I pulled through and learned how to enjoy myself. I learned how to handle the homesick feelings and I learned that it’s okay to not always feel okay.
7. You will gain confidence.
When my mom came to visit me in the Netherlands after I had been living there for three months I realized how much I knew about my new home, how well I could navigate the city, and all of the best places to see in Utrecht. It made me feel so great to be able to share all of that with her. I started to feel like a local and I gained so much confidence because of it.
8. You could learn a new hobby.
Okay, so I didn’t exactly learn a new hobby but I did learn that riding a bike wasn’t so bad. That still counts, right?
9. You’ll learn how to live out of a backpack/suitcase.
I was the idiot who arrived in the Netherlands with two suitcases, a backpack and a carry-on bag. Why? What could I possibly have brought with me that was so important? Nothing.
I left the Netherlands with one suitcase and my backpack but to be honest, I wish I could have left with less.
10. You’ll appreciate your hometown more.
Talking about Michigan and Detroit made me realize how great it truly is. I am fortunate enough to live in a state that is known for the Great Lakes, beautiful wildlife, the Motor City and Vernors.
Yeah, I had to mention Vernors because it’s the first thing I’m buying once I get home.
11. You’ll experience another culture.
Other cultures can look pretty weird from an outside perspective, but once you start living like a local you begin to understand the customs and traditions.
12. You might find out something about yourself that you didn’t know before. Bonus if it’s something really cool.
13. Traveling can open up new doors for you.
14. …it may also close a few.
Before leaving for the Netherlands, I never would have known that I was going to be spending my summer in Malta. Traveling sometimes does the unexpected and presents things in front of you that you would just be silly to not take advantage of.
Because I decided to spend six weeks in Malta, I had to cut back on my car budget for when I return back home. In the long run I’m pretty sure I’ll look back and know that I made the right decision.
15. You might learn a language.
I didn’t, but there’s no stopping you!
16. Cheap accommodation!
Hostels are a backpacker’s haven and really popular in Europe. Or if you’re really up for an adventure, there’s always CouchSurfing.
Okay, so this one isn’t just for people in their 20’s but both options are typically used by younger people.
17. Your Instagram will look ~fabulous.~
My iPhone currently houses over 2,000 pictures. That’s about 20 years worth of Instagram worthy footage.
18. You’ll feel freer than ever.
No bedtime, ice cream for dinner, no one to tell you what you should/shouldn’t be doing. What more can a 20 year old ask for?
19. There’s always a possibility for a new, exciting adventure that wouldn’t be available to you at home.
Buying my first plane ticket was one of the most terrifying, exciting things to happen in my life. It was the first time I was traveling on my own and I had no idea what to expect.
When I was in the Netherlands, I learned about a website called srprs.me. Although this website is only useful to people in the Netherlands, it sounds really freakin’ cool.
You basically decide on what your budget would be for a little vacation, decide if you want to take this little vacation with a friend or go solo, and choose your dates. Then, the website does the rest and they literally surprise you with a vacation. You have no idea where you’re going until you get to the airport. It has awesome reviews and I wish I would have done it.
There’s always next time.
20. Why not?
Why aren’t you traveling?
Are you waiting for the “perfect time?”
There will never be a “perfect time” because we always make excuses for ourselves. I mean, I did that for three years. Finally, I shut up and decided the time was now and it was.
Are you waiting to save up enough money?
Traveling on a budget has never been easier with all of the resources you have online. You can do a Workaway (like me!), CouchSurf, or even hitchhike. If you want it bad enough, $500 can be enough to get you somewhere.
Do you want to travel with another person but you kind of hate all of your friends?
Bad idea. Don’t rely on others because you’ll be waiting for years. Solo travel can be scary but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Do yourself a favor by visiting Skyscanner, typing in your local airport as the starting point, and “everywhere” as the destination.
You might be traveling sooner than you think.