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Why you should travel when you’re young

‘I don’t have enough money’. ‘I don’t have the time’. ‘I’m worried about missing out on things back home’. ‘I can’t live without my home comforts’. Everyone has their reasons for not wanting to travel, or putting it off until the right time comes. It is completely normal to be anxious about leaving home for different climes, especially if it is your first time travelling without your parents. It is vital not to let this fear stand between you and your exploration of the world however.

Image courtesy of Nancy Parsons, Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure

Consider the fact that ‘Wishing I had travelled more’ fell within the top five regrets of American adults in a write-up on the Huffington Post. They spoke about how careers and families have gotten in the way, forcing their aspirations onto the back-burner for the foreseeable future.  Travelling whilst young is therefore an ideal time. For most, it is the period of their life where they have the least responsibility and the most free- time. Don’t take this for granted but grab it with both hands, and save yourself from the common regrets realised by the older generation.

Travelling whilst young can enhance your understanding of the world, compelling you to learn new things and to feel much more connected to the global community. It is thought that during the teenage years and early twenties, a person begins to properly define themselves, as they start to cement the morals and values that they hope to live by.  Travelling can therefore change a person dramatically, and alter the way they view their surroundings. By experiencing new countries and cultures, it can open a person up to things that are bigger than them. Seeing disadvantaged communities or endangered wildlife firsthand can catalyse a new found compassion, creating a more-rounded and culturally conscious adult. Volunteering abroad can provide a particularly enriching experience, enabling a person to get to know the community and to deeply understand the issues that are affecting an area.

Image courtesy of Matthew Spence, South Africa Zulu Community Project and Safari

Travelling is not solely about gaining culture and a global awareness, however. In the process of learning about the world, you will also learn new skills to use in later life. Travelling can instil a sense of independence and confidence to be carried forwards into adulthood. Not only this, but as cheesy as it sounds, you will learn about yourself. By challenging yourself; meeting a diverse range of people, and getting outside of your comfort zone, you’ll soon come to realise where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Volunteering, working, or interning abroad are all ways of enhancing your own attributes and picking up new skills. Not only could this make you more employable, but it may help you make life altering decisions about your future, and the area you want to dedicate your life to. So, travel far and wide and with abandon. Help others as you go, and experience things that you never thought possible. Don’t wake up in twenty years and regret the fear that stopped you from fulfilling your potential.

‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’– Mark Twain

By Camilla James

Frontier runs over 300 volunteering projects across the globe. If you're young, why not check out the projects perfect for taking a gap year?

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