"What’s travelling? Is it possible to go to America???”
These were the thoughts I had at 11, when a girl in my class said she was going to Disneyland in America for the winter holidays. In contrast, my holidays in primary school consisted of staying at home, watching TV and building forts. This was the sheltered life I lived with no exposure to the world, and I only knew about life in Melbourne.
Throwback half a decade ago, I was 16 years old, embarking on my first trip overseas sans parents and leaving my humble abode - called home. My trip to Quimper, France allowed me to see a whole different way of living, cooking, education, weekends and most importantly culture. (Not to mention I celebrated my first Christmas dinner because my family doesn’t really celebrate Christmas). I felt so at home with my newfound family and I was truly sad to leave.
So why have I told you this story? Because we millennials are at our prime to explore the world, to understand different cultures. Travelling will give you a new perspective of others’ lives, and of your own life.
1. You won’t have time to travel when you’ve graduated.
Unless you're taking a gap year after you finish, when you’re out of university, with a 9-5 job, you’ll have 20 days paid leave, and 10 days sick leave. This isn’t much time if you want to fully immerse yourself in another country. I’m quite sure after 345 days of working, you’ll want to kick back and relax in a fancy 5 star hotel opposed to daily walking and sightseeing.
We have the energy and the capacity to travel now, to walk, explore, climb, snorkel, bungee jump. We’re at an age where we’re absolutely fearless and feel invincible to the world. Also if you break your leg while travelling, there goes your 10 days of paid sick leave (just sayin’).
2. Travelling breaks down your prejudices towards other cultures and changes the way you interact with others.
Seeing all the fear against Muslims and Islamic culture makes me truly sad, because I had the opportunity to meet four beautiful girls from Bahrain during my recent trip to India. Living with two of them allowed me to ask them questions about the Muslim religion and see them pray each day, but ultimately what shone the most about them was their kind personalities.
I also got to understand more about Russia, Turkey, Egypt and Indian culture too just by meeting and interacting with different people. You can learn so much about another culture just by having conversations with people, and this will help you with the way you interact with people in the future - whether through jobs, travelling, or merely meeting strangers. (You can read my previous article about the types of people I met in India.)
Whether it’s through an Airbnb, an Uber conversation, or strangers you meet on daily commute - you’re sure to bump into people who will enrich your life and teach you a lesson. These can be short term friends, or you can maintain a lifelong connection with them. With all the social media available, you’ll be able to keep up with each other life, or use Skype for a quick catchup.
3. Travelling makes you realise your personal privileges and humbles you.
By seeing different countries and their way of life, you appreciate the things you have much more. One thing in particular you’ll come to realise from voyaging to developing countries is having access to clean, fresh water. A lot of countries require you to drink bottled water due to cholera. Also hot showers and proper functioning western toilets make life so much easier and comfortable. You come home with a greater sense of gratitude for the life and opportunities you have.
4. You gain more confidence in yourself and your abilities.
The challenges you face abroad - whether it’s the language barriers, no car to drive, sleeping with no mattress, hitchhiking or climbing down a vertical cliff face, these are experiences you probably won’t experience in Australia.
You’re deep in your comfort zone.
And you know what? You should always strive to do more. To constantly challenge yourself, because overcoming challenges = growth. By dealing with all these unfathomable situations, you’re able to start believing in yourself more.
5. You realise your ability to change the world.
With your qualifications, your interests, your passions - how will you actually impact and leave your mark on this Earth? When you travel, you realise some countries may not have the necessary facilities or equipment to improve their own lives. Maybe you’ll decide to move to the country you’re travelling in and start a life there. Perhaps everyone in Australia has a similar qualification and skill set to you, but you could really make a difference in another country.
Take Thankyou as a case study - whilst Daniel Flynn didn’t graduate from university, he was still able to create his own startup to make an impact in developing countries to allow people abroad to gain access to clean water. If he and his team can do this, what’s stopping you?
Travelling to France left me with wanderlust to travel again. And travel I did. China (family), Maldives (volunteering), Korea (travel), Japan (family), India (volunteering), Singapore (travel), and in two weeks - New Zealand (conference). But this still isn’t enough for me. I’m hoping to travel to England next year - and I’m starting to save up now. Because cancelling meetups with friends, stopping my love for brunches, and saving this money will be worth it when I return with more stories to tell, and experiences to share.
What’s your next dream destination, and how are you going to get there?
Nothing should stop you between you and your dreams, and I trust you to find solutions to any obstacles that pop up along at the way.