Somewhere, right now, a young person in their 20s really wants to go travelling. However, you can be certain that there is at least one adult in their life who is trying to talk them out of it (maybe more). There are so many things that adults say that scare young people away from going travelling – which are simply not true.
Keep in mind, many of these warnings and attitudes usually come from people who have no experience with long term travel. They don’t know what it is like, but they have a opinion anyway. It is important for young people to take advice with a pinch of salt from those who haven’t travelled and listen to those who have – they are more aware of what is true about travel and what is just a silly myth.
So what are the five things that adults say to scare young people away from travel?
1. “It’s Too Dangerous.”
According to many adults, the world is a dangerous place and when young people go abroad they are likely to get stabbed, robbed, raped and murdered as soon as they step out of their hotel.
However, this paranoia is not based in reality. Yes, there are some dangerous and war-torn places in the world – but they are likely not where most young people are going to be backpacking. No, they are going to be in safe places, filled with plenty of other travellers, where there are no more dangers than there are in their home town.
While it is true that there are pickpockets and scam artists, they are easy to avoid with a little bit of awareness, common sense and preparation. I would recommend that young travellers Google “Common Scams in _________” before they go somewhere so that they can get to know what to watch out for. It is important for travellers to be smart and stay aware of their surroundings. Bad things most often happen when travellers forget common sense, such as getting so drunk that they aren’t able to make it back to the hostel safely, wandering down dark unfamiliar streets alone and taking offers for rides from strangers. Basically, when travellers avoid doing the dangerous stupid things they wouldn’t do at home, they will likely be fine.
2. “It Will Harm Your Career.”
For some reason, many young people feel so pressured before entering the workforce that they think they shouldn’t take a year out to go travelling because it will harm their career. I personally think that this is absolute nonsense. If someone is going to be pursuing a career for the next 30 years or so, what does it matter if they start working on it immediately after they graduate, or a year later? Will it really make that much of a difference when they are 40 whether they have 18 years of experience or 19? No, it makes no difference at all.
I have heard from a lot of young people who are worried that taking a year out to travel will “look bad on their resume.” Trust me, it won’t. I would encourage young people to include their travels on their resume proudly, because it actually reflects well on them. Going travelling, especially on their own, shows that they are good at planning, able to manage money well, resourceful, willing to step outside of their comfort zone and open-minded. All of these traits are positives that employers are looking for. Also, the traveller will stand out from all of the other similar applications. When their travels come up in an interview, young people can talk confidently about what they learned and how the experience helped them grow as a person – there’s a good chance that the interviewer will be intrigued and impressed.
3. “It’s Self Indulgent.”
Okay, this one might be true. Going travelling might be “self indulgent”, but it’s in the very best way possible. Self indulgence, when it is in the form of self improvement, is not a bad thing. Most people don’t think of going to University as self indulgent, it is seen as investing time into learning and improving the mind. Travel is the same thing.
When young people go travelling, they often find that the experiences they have help them to learn about themselves and the world around them. These experiences will very likely be a catalyst for their own personal growth. This is very valuable and it has the potential to help them become a better friend, partner and family member to their loved ones. Also, long term travel can allow young people to really get in touch with their values and figure out what it is that they want to do with their life – a realisation that is priceless.
4. “It’s Expensive.” or if not, “It Will be Uncomfortable.”
One of the fears that adults place in the heads of young people is that travel will be a financial disaster and that going backpacking for six months or a year will leave them broke and miserable. When they hear about the travel plans, they will say, “but how can you afford that?” – putting doubt in the young traveller’s mind about whether or not it’s a good idea.
However, I know for a fact that travel doesn’t have to be expensive at all. One of the best ways for a traveller to ensure that they don’t end up broke after their trip is to work while they travel, earning money to supplement themselves while abroad. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most straightforward is to get a Working Holiday Visa – which allows anyone between the age of 18-30 (35 for some countries) to work in another country for 1-2 years in order to supplement their travels. Here’s a guide to which countries offer these visas.
Also, travelling doesn’t have to be as expensive as most people think and travellers can cut down their costs a lot. A traveller can Couchsurf with a friendly local host and stay somewhere for free, or could stay in a hostel and spend a lot less than they would in a hotel room. They can take the cheap local bus, pack a lunch, look for free things to do and enjoy the destination on a budget.
However, when the young traveller explains that they are going to do this, they are met with another reaction – identifying how uncomfortable this approach will be. “Oh, you don’t really want to have to sleep in a room full of strangers, do you?” This is because many people just don’t realise that hostels aren’t really that bad at all. Even if they are a little grotty, most travellers are happy to deal with a little bit of discomfort in order to see the big amazing world out there. Hostels also have their advantages, because they are a great place to meet other travellers and make friends.
5. “You Should Be Thinking About Your Future.”
This one tends to come up a lot more in North America, as there is a lot of pressure in this part of the world for young people to have their future all planned out. This might include getting on the property ladder, starting to save for retirement, getting married and all of those “ideal” life milestones. If someone in their 20s is spending their time vagabonding around the world, many people will perceive them as not thinking ahead to their future. They might even ask them when they are going to “settle down” and have the normal life they are expected to have.
But who’s to say that they are not thinking about their future? Perhaps they are, it’s just that their future doesn’t fit into the blueprint that has been laid out for them. Their future involves travel, exploration, adventure and not really knowing what is coming up around the next bend. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as they can trust their future self.
Because the idea of going travelling is unconventional, many people will not understand it. There are many myths and misconceptions that adults will perpetuate, which will often scare young people into deciding not to travel. The problem is, many of these myths are not based in reality and are expressed by those who don’t have experience with travel themselves. This is why I think it is important for young people to find role models who are living the type of life they dream of living – especially if it is an unconventional life of travel. Speaking to these experienced travellers will help young people with wanderlust to soothe their fears and understand the practical realities of long term travel – so that they can make it happen for themselves.