20 June 2013

Top 10 reasons why we should travel young

For the record, everyone loves traveling. You can lie to your friend that you don't, but you can't lie to yourself. Somehow, there is always this innate desire to step out of your comfort zone and see the world through your own eyes. And as quoted by Saint Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Inspired already? I sure as hell am. 

For most of us, money is the main issue that is stopping us from traveling. The sad thing is, nothing can be more true that the fact that you need cash to travel. Other than money, it’s finding a travel partner. For me, finding the perfect travel partner is harder than saving $350 a month (actual amount) for that trip. Then again, why let these things stop us from traveling? We are young and we shouldn’t confine ourselves to only one page of the book. So here are my top 10 reasons why we should travel when we are still young.

1) We are physically fit
I feel very sad when I see my parents travel and getting tired quite easily, yes, even during short walks. Obviously, their stamina is nothing compared to ours. We can walk the whole day and still feel completely energized at the end of it. We can walk on all terrain without having to really worry about spraining or twisting an ankle. Because even if we really do get a sprain, we heal in no time, thanks to the abundance of calcium in our bones.

2) We are entitled to youth privileges
As long as you are 25 and below, most countries offer youth benefits. For example, in London, you get discounted prices on their rails and free entries to some of their museums. Some accommodations are also cheaper if you flash your ID and you get discounts at participating food joints. And it’s all because you are a youth.

3) We are thick-skinned
I doubt my parents would want to share a room and toilet with 8 or even more other travellers. What do we care? We only want to travel cheap. Just as long as there is a bed and a toilet, anything goes. I mean, I don’t really care if you can hear me snoring. Lodging aside, we are also a bunch of sociable young people. We can easily befriend fellow travellers with just a simple, “Hi” and have a whole new clique to explore places with.

4) We have all the time in the world
I am assuming that we don’t have kids yet. We are free from family commitments that would otherwise tie us down. We are not constrained by the prospect of spending time with people back at home, nor are we in a hurry to secure a position in that company. After saving that money, who needs a job back at home? We can restart our career when we are home – there is time because we are young and we have the spare capacity for that. 

5) We get the life we want
Once you hit 30, life kind of just happen to you. Now is the time when you have total power over your own life. You want to wake up late, go ahead. You want to sit in a café and people-watch all day without guilt, please do. But of course, as we travel, we gain insights that make us a better and wiser person. So as much as we can control the circumstances of our lives now, we better grab this chance while it lasts.

6) We develop emotions like empathy
When you travel, you see things that you don’t see in your own country. You get heartbreaks when you see poverty-stricken families living in slums. You get your heart jumping with excitement as you stand on The Great Wall of China (true story). You get your heart torn when you experience racism for just being a different shade of colour (it happened to me when I was in Melbourne). But through all these rollercoaster emotions, you become more compassionate, sentimental and empathetic towards your surroundings.

7) We discover ourselves
It’s all about knowing yourself. Traveling helps you in your search for identity. You learn what your likes, your dislikes, and your style are – you learn about yourself. Can you live in solitary? Can you adapt to changes easily? Are you a risk-taker? Do you dare defy the odds? Are you afraid to talk to people? You can find out the answers to these questions when you travel often enough.

8) We will not live to regret
Many people share the same regret – not traveling when they were younger. That is like wasted youth and it is a very sad thing for me even when I hear people telling me that. Although it’s never always too late to start traveling, your experiences will never be the same as when you travel young. So start now.

9) We understand the phrase “It’s not all about you” better
When we travel, we realize what a small place we occupy in the world. We see the sufferings of many people across the world that suddenly, getting that Prada bag sounds so shallow. You realize that your problem with the water heater is nothing compared to the hungry children you see on the streets of Phnom Penh. All I wanted to do then, was to give everyone an ice cream cone each. I did. And it warmed my heart to see the sparkle in their eyes when presented with the ice cream. For whatever problems we encounter at home, there is always someone going through an even bigger problem. So seriously, it really isn’t about you.

10) Simply because tomorrow may never come
Yep, you got that right. So go travel wide and far, and see the world for all it’s worth. Learn the cultures, experience the pain, see the beauty of nature, feel the breeze of a different place, just anything. Because the experience you get when you travel can never replace the certificate in your cover letter – no other person is smarter than the one person who travels the world.

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