10 Reasons to Travel Abroad Before Settling Down
Your future will still be here when you get back.
The world is full of incredible people, places and things that take a lot of time and money to visit. After college, it’s time to go to grad school, find a career and maybe even start a family. Travel is probably the last thing on your mind as you swim in a pool of debt and search fruitlessly for the perfect job to complement your degree and interests. Maybe you have decided to get a masters degree in a completely different subject than your undergrad. Perhaps you’ve been working for years and are realizing this is the wrong field for you. Before you let yourself get stuck in a monotonous cycle of eat-sleep-work, venture into the world and make sure you are on the right track. While traveling may seem inconvenient at this point in life, just take a moment to consider these few reasons traveling at this age could actually greatly benefit you in the long run.
1. Now is truly the best time to travel.
According to The Atlantic, millennials have begun postponing marriage until later in their lives. So unless you already have scored your dream job, you probably don’t have any major ties to home that you can’t escape for at least a few months. Once you land full-time employment, your vacation opportunities will be limited. If you have kids, it probably won’t be easy to travel with them until they’re old enough to remain calm on an 8+-hour plane ride. You might as well take advantage of free time while you have it.
2. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive.
If you really want to go abroad, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Volunteer with a church group. Teach English as a second language and use the money you earn to visit other cities on the weekends. Join the Peace Corps if you really want to accomplish something abroad. Even if you’re traveling for leisure, there are plenty of methods to make your trip as cheap as possible. Get a credit card with airline rewards to help save on plane tickets, stay in hostels rather than hotels and use Skype or WhatsApp for communication via WiFi to avoid a hefty international phone bill.
3. Going abroad will broaden your view of the world.
You’ve heard so many stereotypes about the French hating Americans and the British being stuck up. Instead of letting others’ opinions dictate how you view citizens of the world, go find these people yourself and discover what they’re really like. You’ll have a chance to experience a new culture firsthand, and when you return home, you’ll have a better understanding of those with different cultural background than your own.
4. Travel can also alter your perspective on your own life.
If you go abroad on a service trip, or simply travel to a less affluent location than your hometown, you may notice the luxuries you are accustomed to aren’t always available. Electricity may not be a constant and water may not be potable. You can learn how to survive instead of just living carelessly. Plus, only a certain amount of clothes will fit into your suitcase. Before you depart, you’ll have to decide what you really need.
5. Memories are more valuable than material goods.
Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for the newest iPhone model, put that money towards your plane ticket. Jump off a cliff, go see the Eiffel Tower or walk through a vineyard in Tuscany. Buying souvenirs is unnecessary when you have pictures to document all of the incredible things you’ve done. An iPhone will only last a few years; memories will last a lifetime.
6. You could finally get a chance to practice the language you spent so many years studying.
Supposedly, immersion is the best way to become conversational in a language. If you want to boost your résumé by listing “bilingual” as a skill, travel to a country that speaks a language you studied in college. Even if you’re a bit rusty on Spanish grammar, it’ll hopefully all come back to you once you’re in a situation where you have no choice but to attempt the local language.
7. Meet new people.
Both the travelers and local people you meet abroad have potential to become lifelong friends or valuable connections. The person who tried to help you with directions may have recommendations for an even better restaurant. The people next to you on the plane could be staying in the same place as you, and you could tag along on some of their adventures. Perhaps you’ll have so much fun exploring with these new friends that you can plan future trips with them, or at least invite them to come visit you at home.
8. Travel abroad can improve your communication skills.
In many places you visit, the people won’t speak English. Beyond that, certain gestures or behaviors could be interpreted differently than in your home. Abroad, you will learn to overcome language and culture barriers to communicate as efficiently as possible with locals. Whether bartering for food or asking for directions, eventually you will probably encounter a challenge in getting your intended message across.
9. You can learn a lot about problem solving and time management.
Even if you have every hour of every day of your trip planned out, something is bound to go wrong. A train will be late, the line to get into the museum will be too long or you’ll see an intriguing site that you simply have to stop at on the way. No good trip ever runs smoothly, but if you are truly determined to seeing all of the sites, you’ll find a way to fit everything in. Instead of fuming over the extra hours you have to spend waiting for a train, take advantage of the time to explore the area around the train station. Sometimes, the best adventures come along when you least expect them.
10. The skills you learn abroad, or even just the travel experience could help land you a job.
With problem-solving, time management, communication and possibly even proficiency in a second language, you’re bound to develop some résumé-improving skills in your time abroad. Additionally, travel, whether for service, study or leisure, helps you to stand out in the job applicant pool. Ashley Blackmon, a marketing analyst in New York City, told CNN she talked about her experiences abroad more than any other item on her résumé in her interview at a global packaged goods company. She claims the skills she learned abroad are ultimately what earned her the job.
So, while you may think now is the wrong time to take a break from your normal life and visit a foreign country, there’s no better time than the present. Before you’re stuck with a job or a family — not that either of those is a bad thing — take some time to explore the incredible world you live in. You’ll learn how to handle all that life can throw at you, you could meet your new best friends and you’ll make memories to last a lifetime.