Traveling at a young age can help you learn what interests you and can fuel your learning in a classroom. There are always going to be reasons for you not to travel, but it’s important to take the time to decide what is important to you and make it happen.
As a student or someone entering a new job or career, it may seem unrealistic to take the time and money to travel. There are plenty of excuses for why you should stay at home — lack of time and funds being two major ones. But there is no experience that lends itself to life the way traveling does. Widening the views of different cultures and landscapes helps create a more well-rounded individual.
Consider taking a gap year before college. There are plenty of programs that take students to see different parts of the world, whether it’s a service project or a tour group. It may seem silly to take a year-long “vacation,” but I have heard it is one of the most beneficial and fulfilling experiences you can have. Gap year trends have grown astronomically in the United States. In 2006, the U.S. gap fairs only numbered seven — now, according to The New York Times, the number has grown to “30 fairs in 28 cities with about 40 organizations and 2,500 students attending.” If this is any indication of the success students are finding after taking gap years, I think it is clear that traveling at a younger age is important.
Gap years have been proven successful because they often help students pinpoint what they enjoy. Although gap years offer many benefits, sometimes it is not economically feasible to participate in such a program. Many of these programs cost thousands of dollars, excluding flights and visas. But if your pockets are a little too shallow for a gap year, rest assured — there are more ways to see the world than a gap year program.
This year during Fall Break, I went to Canada with three friends, road-tripping for a week through Washington, Vancouver and Calgary. The trip did not cost more than $500 for each of us, and it could have been done cheaper. The secret to traveling is two-fold: determine your budget, and decide what experiences you are willing to sacrifice, be it cuisine, sight-seeing or all-inclusive tour packages. For us, it wasn’t about the food or five-star accommodation, so we saved a lot of money there. We were able to meet new people in hostels and see many of the main attractions, including scenic drives, hikes and beautiful architecture.
In short, students should take a chance and try to travel, regardless of the cost, because what you gain in return makes a world of difference.