Why you should just say “f#@k it” and hit the road while you still can

BY: Jason Brewer

Growing up I didn’t travel a lot. Sure, there was the odd family trip, which usually meant a two-hour car ride to a small Saskatchewan town or a weekend getaway at a cabin. These trips were fun and relaxing and full of moments that have since gone on to become cherished childhood memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world. As time went on, most of my friends and family remained content with exploring their own backyards, but I being born with the wanderlust gene, dreamt of unseen places: the tallest mountains, the bluest seas, the wildest forests—adventure in every form.

Millennial generation— those between the ages of 16 and 34—are more interested in travel than older generations by 23%

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Photo:  © da-kuk

According to the Atlantic, a report by the Boston Consulting Group reveals that the millennial generation—those between the ages of 16 and 34—are more interested in travel than older generations by 23 per cent. The same article states that the United Nations estimates that 20 percent of all international tourists are young people. This influx of young travellers is likely due to the redefining of the meaning of travel— foregoing typical vacations for long and meaningful experiences.

This new definition of travel sees a decrease in the traditional sun, sand and sea holidays and an increase in the exploration of remote destinations. In other words, people are choosing to venture off the beaten path. Another popular choice among young travellers is opting out of the expensive hotel, instead choosing to stay in a hostel, rented room, or even couch surfing. Long-term backpacking trips have become preferable to a two-week getaway.

Young travelers prefer long-term backpacking trips and staying at hostel or even couch surfing choosing to venture off the beaten path

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Photo: © Gorpenyuk

Despite daydreaming daily about the architecture of Europe, the wild jungles of Africa and the Amazon rainforests of South America, I have not actually spent too much time far from home. My travel diary, with its very few pages filled, started when I went on a Japanese exchange and lived for a few weeks with a Japanese family. The experience opened up my eyes and my mind and I haven’t stopped dreaming about the rest of the world since. For years after the trip, I ached to get my foot out the door again, but things like university, work and financial concerns got in the way.

Get a good paying job—with a pension. Save up first and make sure you’re financially secure. You can travel after you retire. The responsible words of almost every parent and grandparent rang in my head like a bell. My problem with this responsible set of steps is that the focus is on future happiness, instead of present happiness. Doesn’t it make more sense to live out your travel dreams now, instead of saving for a future that is in no way guaranteed?

Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on present happiness instead of putting your life on hold for unknown amount of time?

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© da-kuk

Many young travellers may feel like waiting around for the golden age to travel is now pointless. Millennials have been hit the hardest by the recession and a lush, cozy retirement is looking more and more like a dream. According to the Atlantic, since 1985 the number of companies offering pensions has fallen from 112,000 to only 23,000. Not to mention that a recent report shows that only six per cent of millennials expect to receive the social security benefits that today’s retirees have. With people working more, but getting paid less, it makes no sense to put your life on hold for some unknown amount of time. Especially since traveling has benefits that contribute not only to your happiness, but also to your overall success.

Travel is often used as a break from the job hunt, and time to evaluate what to do next. Many people have found their true calling while on the road, or learnt a valuable skill or lesson that will help them with their future endeavours. Whether you’re focused on your future, or your only concern is seizing the day, the benefits of traveling expand to all daring adventurers. According to Lifehack, there are many key reasons why you should travel when you are young.

Firstly, it changes the way you relate to the world and the way you relate to others. It’s hard to envision things you’ve never seen or know very little about. It’s even harder to wrap your head around the way that other people live out their lives. Culture shock is valuable because it places you out of your comfort zone and into someone else’s. It becomes easier to relate to different people.

Which leads to the next reason—travel gives you empathy for global suffering and social issues. Seeing is believing: it is so easy to tune out what we don’t see right in front of us, and therefore makes it easier to lessen the importance of other people’s problems and pretend that global issues don’t exist.

The more you travel, the more you realize how little you know about the world.

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© da-kuk

Traveling is a humbling experience. The more you travel, the more you realize how little you know about the world and about life. Suddenly, you feel small and most of your daily complaints, miniscule. You can put things into perspective and learn what is worth being upset over and what is better to just let go.

Traveling also empowers you to take on new challenges. Suddenly, you are willing to try anything because you never know when you will get the opportunity again. Often this leads to discovering things you never knew you loved—or conquering a fear that you’ve had for a long time.

Traveling empowers you to take on new challenges – to discover things you never knew you loved or conquer a fear that you’ve had for a long time.

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© da-kuk

Travel pushes your education. Reading a history textbook is the most boring thing in the world, but seeing history in person is another story. Travel makes our brains come alive—suddenly, we want to know everything we can about the things that we taste, touch, hear and see. Everything is new, and we explore and learn like we did when we were children.

Lastly, traveling when you’re young is important because life is not a guarantee. It is impossible to predict when your travel ticket will expire. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive either, especially with all of the tools we have at out fingertips. Social media, Airbnb and vacation rentals are a few of the places you can go to find accommodations from real people instead of staying in a fancy hotel. The bonus is that staying with someone or renting from someone means you have a free tour guide to help you on your journey. Travel is not something to put at the end of your bucket list—if you have the heart of a wanderer, then wander. See where you end up and in turn, what you get back.

 

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