Has someone ever told you ‘what’s the rush? France isn’t going anywhere!” Well, that might be true for France, but that might not be true for you!
Who know where life will take you? Who knows what opportunities will come your way and need immediate seizing? Family, promotion, new business plans, new boyfriend, babies, marriage, health problems, relationship problems, new hobbies, new THINGS which might keep you in place for a while. I can guarantee that something will come your way and when it does you will either spend an evening with friends laughing about that time you got lost on the underground of Paris looking for the catacombs OR you will complain to your mates about how you ALMOST went to Paris but you’ll have to wait for another time to do that.
Which evening do you want? Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who regretted any experience they’ve had travelling. And no one will ever tell you that they should have waiting for a better time.
I once booked a flight with a friend on a whim. There was a flight deal to LA that lasted only 24 hours. As university students we didn’t have much in the bank. Most people would have told us to wait for a better time but we threw caution to the wind and just went for it. And, you guessed it, we don’t regret it one single bit. Yes we ate $1 pizza most nights, slept on random people’s couches and spent our days just walking around. But it was wonderful.
Not only will travel being excitement into your life but it will educate you, break down cultural barriers and ultimately bring you more happiness. It is for these reasons that you should never to book that holiday!
The best classrooms can be found on the road. Some people view travel as a self-indulgent luxury. In many ways it is. But, it is also a tool for learning more about the world. Travelling will give you lessons in culture, history and independence in a way that cannot be taught through books. Travel is truly the only authentic way to learn about the world. You can imagine the difference between reading about the Holocaust at school and standing in Auschwitz with a local guide; or watching a documentary on the Serengeti to watching, with baited breath, as a lion chases down a zebra meters away from you. That type of learning is priceless.
Not only will you increase your knowledge, you will increase you capacity to learn. For instance, it’s been found that learning a new language has many cognitive benefits such as increased attention span, improved memory and a reduced risk of age-related mental decline such as dementia.
As well as this, taking a trip anywhere will truly test your independence. Even the most well planned out trip can go wrong. When plans start to go awry, that’s when our problem solving and improvisational skills are tested. You don’t know what you are capable of handling until you’re suddenly stuck at a boarder with no money for your visa or you find yourself in a new city without a lift to your hostel.
Acceptance and Tolerance
Cross-cultural exploration allows for a greater development and understanding of others. While travelling you cannot avoid engaging in open dialogue between yourself and someone from a vastly different cultural background. Even if there is a language barrier you’ll find things in common with strangers; things that will tie you together and things that will divide you. Hostel rooms are always a melting pot of cultures. You find that by living together, everything that makes you different falls away and you’re just two people travelling, sharing new experiences. I learnt about Japanese TV shows from a girl in a Tokyo hostel; I discovered a new band while sharing a room with two Americans in London; and I took romantic advice from a Brazilian girl in LA. Coming from vastly different cultures doesn’t matter when you travel – you become bonded by your experience. Especially given today’s global issues, we could all use a little more acceptance and understanding of others.
Palestinian activist, Aziz Abu Sarah, says that the best approach to peace-keeping it to be a tourist! He explains that tourism is the best, most sustainable way to bring down cultural walls, connecting with each other and creating lasting friendships. He speaks in relation to Palestinian and Israeli culture. That travelling together and learning together can break down a cultural division that has been centuries in the making. I believe this connection can happen between any two people, no matter their cultural background.
Happiness and Self Discovery
Life happens outside of your comfort zone. That is the mantra I decided to live by when I turned 19 and it works! Studies have found that people are happier when they spent their hard earned money on new experiences rather than material items. Of course, as with all things, there is no guarantee that your trip will result in the happiest of experiences. You might return home with a stomach bug or a missing camera BUT you are much more likely to find fulfillment in seeing a new place than driving a new car.
Most importantly, I now know things about myself at age 25 that some people may never truly know about themselves. I know that I HATE heights and I HATE public speaking. No one can tell me otherwise. I know that I can move to another country, learn a new language, rent a house by myself, go to a police station by myself, I can cook without an oven, I can live without running water, I can plan my own trip across Africa, I can sit in a café alone in France. I CAN do whatever I set my mind to and I DON’T have to do anything that I don’t enjoy.
So why wait? Why not discover new things about the world and yourself right NOW?