As unconventional as this may sound, the other night, I had a conversation with myself as I reflected on my life two years ago; two major decisions I had to make – continue on with my current life or travel the world.
Hesitantly, I said ‘travel.’ Hands down. No excuse. Just go.
Deep breath in…and let it out.
That inner self that second-guesses you when you think you have a great idea said,
Never were more fatal words spoken.
Yeah, but…what about debt? Yeah, but…what about my full-time, benefits included job? Yeah, but…what about my dental issues? Yeah, but…what about my anxiety attacks?
“Yeah, but…” is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best intentions when really, we are just too scared to do what we should.
It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.
Most people I’ve talked to who waited to travel the world, never did. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for their lives to change, for something better…it eventually all came together.
Be careful of the “Yeah, but.” The “Yeah, but” will suffocate your dreams.
I was so stirred by this thought, this conversation, that I shared it with friends from ‘home’, a couple of friends here, my sister, and my boyfriend, many of who were asking these very questions.
The life you’ve always wanted.
When you get older, life seems to just sort-of happen to you. Your youth is a time of total empowerment.
You get to do what you want. As you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important.
And it’s funny, because all I’ve wanted is some direction; somewhere to point my body and focus. It made me nervous not being tied to anything, but what I’ve come to realize is it’s okay. That with faith, it will all work out – some way, some how, some where - God’s got your back. I’ve learned that being nervous, just caused anxiety, which ultimately caused stress, and who needs that, right?
You might start out with a blueprint of the life you want, the path you want to take, or like me, you won’t have a clue; but somewhere on the journey, you’ll realize it doesn’t matter if you planned a path, or thought your life through in all different narratives, because God’s mind is made up and there’s always a different path for you to take, that leads to where you need to be.
So if you still have a reasonable amount of control over your circumstances, you should do what really matters. Because life won’t always be just about you.
During early adulthood, your worldview is still being formed. It’s important to steward this time – to give yourself opportunities to grow. A good way to do that is to travel.
So, young person, travel.
Travel wide and far. Travel boldly. Travel with full abandon.
You will regret few risks you take, when it comes to this.
As I am sure there are many more, here are at least three reasons to travel while you can:
1. Traveling Teaches You to Live an Adventure
When you look back on your life, you will have moments of which make you smile and maybe a few you regret. It's likely that the following won'e be on the latter list:
- Travelled the coast of Ireland.
- Uproot everything and move to a place with no standing.
- Seen your name in lights (published writer and known artist).
- Land your dream job.
They're not on mine (why? Because I've done all of the above).
What, then, will be?
• Holding back.
• Being afraid.
• Making excuses.
• Not taking more risks.
Hit the road, or the sky, while you can.
Take the time to see what God has to offer in this world, and taste the fullness of life. It's worth whatever investment or money or sacrifice of time required on your part.
It’s 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.
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 Uganda, you may see the effects of genocide, poverty, and religious persecution. If Haiti, you'll witness the ugly side of Western paternalism. If you go to southeast Asia, you may encounter the slave trade.
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.
3. Traveling Allows You to Get Some Culture
While you still can, you should get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it.
There's nothing quite like crawling up narrow staircase leading to the top of the Blarney Castle, or seeing the Book of Kells in person. I can describe the city of Dublin and it's amazing green hills, plentiful mountainside and historic sites to you, but you really have to see it for yourself to experience. You can read all the books in the world, but nothing beats being there.
The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it. Breathe it. Take it all in. Do this while you still can, while you're young. Do not squander this time. You will never have it again.
You can have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. Please. For your sake, do it!
You won't always have the opportunity; nor will you stay young forever. Life won'e always be just about you. So travel. Experience the world for all it's worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion.
And if you're not young in appearance, I'm sure you've got some heart that's still young within. Still travel. It may not be easy to do, but fund a way to get our of your comfort zone, stretch those legs and fly. It's really never too late.
But if you haven’t gotten sucked into the routine of life yet, I implore you — travel. It will never be easier than it is right now for you to do that which really matters.
Have you seen what the world has to offer and how it can change you? Leave your comments below.