Why…do people travel in their 20's?

From a 22 year old traveler on the road.

It’s currently 5:19AM local time as I’m sitting up to write this piece. I can’t sleep. For some reason, it’s been a very restless first night in Berlin (part of a 10 day backpacking adventure). The irony is, that none of my roommates can either. They are all up, and feeling a ton of different things, which is mostly likely the cause of the lack of sleep.

So in my head, up popped a question. Why are people in their 20’s travelling around the most? I believe the underlying reason to be: “Cause none of us know what’s right and wrong”. We are all at this point in our lives, in which we find that we have a ton of energy. We miss the days of our childhood, where things were laid out and carefree. Parents provided structure and comfort. Now we’re away from home base, we have to figure out what works and what doesn’t based on the world as it is today.

The one common component though I’ve caught on to from all the travellers I’ve spoken to is this journey of self discovery. Everyone expects that by immersing one’s self in experiences that help them escape from the realities at home, they will have an epiphany on what to do.

I think what they are trying to escape is their own mind. It’s too damn hard to face up to the experiences (especially traumatic) that we’ve all had.

So you might be wondering, how do you measure how traumatic an experience is?

The answer is simple, it’s all relative.

Each one of us after all, is the product of our experiences. However, the traumatic ones are those that make us repress our emotions, because they caused us the deepest wounds. They happen in childhood. It can be experiences we’ve had with school friends all the way to a loved one passing away that we were deeply attached to. In young adulthood, we think “We know how to cope with this, we got this”. When, in fact, “we don’t got this”.

Here’s where the silver lining comes in, it’s okay. One of the most common themes’ of commencement speeches is, “It’s going to be confusing for a while, ride it out”. This is coming from those who have been where we are. For the first time, the paths of those closest to us (friends, significant others, etc.) are diverging faster than ever. Each one of us is forming our own sets of priorities based on what matters to ourselves. As a result, some attachments will grow weaker, and others will go stronger. This is the natural ebb and flow of relationships.

Which leads me to the final point, I think fostering strong relationships with those around us is the key to riding out some of the low points. Friends in society tend to be given lesser value than romantic relationships. When, in fact, it should be the opposite. (Omg, yes, the friend zone could be a huge blessing in disguise, who knew!)

It’s the human condition: We all want to be understood. Understanding, comes with time and friends are the ones, besides our parents, that have stuck around.

Bigger conclusion: I’m part of the gang. :)