1. Traveling teaches you to live an adventure
When you look back on your life, you will have moments of which you are proud and maybe a few you regret. It’s likely that the following won’t be on the latter list:
- Bicycled across the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Appeared on Italian TV.
- Hiked a Mayan ruin.
- Learned Spanish in three months.
- Toured Europe by train.
They’re not on mine (fun fact: I’ve done all of the above). So what, then, will be? What choices will you regret making? Holding back. Being afraid. Making excuses. Not taking more risks. Waiting.
While you’re young, you should travel.
You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. It’s worth whatever investment or money or sacrifice of time that may be required on your part.
This is not about being a tourist. It’s about experiencing true risk and adventure so you don’t have to live in fear for the rest of your life. And it’s about remembering and sharing your adventure, and inspiring others to step out of that fear, too.
2. Traveling helps you encounter compassion
In your youth, you will make choices that will define you. The disciplines you begin now will be with you for the rest of your life.
Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you.
If you go to southeast Asia, you may encounter the slave trade. If eastern Europe, you may see the effects of genocide and religious persecution. If Haiti, you’ll witness the the ugly side Western paternalism.
Your heart will break.
You will begin to understand that the world is both a big and small place. You will have a new-found respect for the pain and suffering that over half of the world takes for granted on a daily basis.
And you will feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way. You will learn to care, and you might even find a way to speak up for the people you encounter who need a voice.
3. Traveling allows you to get some culture
While you’re still young, you should get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. There’s nothing quite like walking alongside the Colosseum or seeing Michelangelo’s David in person.
I can describe the city of San Juan and its amazing beaches and historic sites to you, but you really have to see it for yourself to experience it. You can read all the books in the world about the Great Wall of China or The Louvre, but being there is a different story.