It’s weird to think about, but I turn 20 in less than a year, meaning I’ll finally be free of this sweaty flesh prison that is being a teenager.
Anyway, as uncomfortable and awkward as the teenage years can be, they’re still a valuable part of your life. Most people consider these years to be a transitional phase into new and better times, and thus spend it coasting through high school and being generally unproductive. There’s this sense that you’re not quite a kid and not quite an adult; still dependent on parents but old enough to make your own decisions, but without the money or self-reliance to actually make those decisions happen. It’s easy to get caught in that loop of ‘I’ll get to it later,’ or ‘I’ll do it when I’m older.’
I currently know far too many teenagers who want to travel and have the resources to do so, but just haven’t been able to pick themselves up and do it. That’s why I’ve been steadily growing my collection of posts dedicated to teen travel resources.
Still, although I’ve gone over quite a bit of the how, I don’t think I’ve touched enough on the why. So, without further ado, here’s why you should travel as a teenager. [Now with gifs!]
1. You’ll connect with your family and friends.
Look, if you’re going to be traveling and you’re under 18, chances are, you’re going to be doing it with friends and family. And there’s nothing quite like a trip to bring a group of people closer together. Traveling as a family or with friends is one of those things that you never forget. Some of my best memories growing up involved long road trips with my parents and the New York trip I took with my mother and brother back in 2014.
2. You’ll figure out what you want to do in life.
Okay, maybe a vacation to Hawaii won’t magically provide you with a mystical vision of the exact college you should apply for to achieve all of your goals in life, but it can definitely help you learn new things about yourself and the world. Taking a gap year has made me rethink my entire life plan, and although that should be scary, it’s been weirdly invigorating. Once you’ve taken a step back from your life, it’s easier to organize your thoughts and figure out what you actually want to prioritize, and if any of that happens to be travel-related, well, all the better for you!
3. You’ll open your mind.
Nothing quite compares to that bucket-of-ice-water feeling of realizing that you’re completely out of your element. And even after that, nothing comes close to that moment when you realize that you’ve suddenly made that shit your element, that you’ve adapted to a completely different culture and way of thinking without even realizing it. I mean, that’s pretty awesome.
4. You’ll become more interesting.
‘Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. ‘ -Ibn Battuta
Here’s one irrefutable truth: as long as you travel, you’ll never run out of stories. [Just don’t overdo it on the inspiring anecdotes about your adventures in Thailand. People tend to get annoyed when you only talk about yourself.]
5. You’ll discover new passions.
Before travel blogging became my thing, I wasn’t really big on photography. I actually thought it was pretty embarrassing to tote a camera around everywhere. [It’s still embarrassing, but less so.] Nowadays, I’m rarely caught outside without my DSLR. Travel is something that forces you to step outside of your comfort zone, and in the process, you’re definitely likely to find some hidden talent or new interest! [Dear mom and dad: the gif is a joke I swear]
6. You’ll become more confident.
After spending some quality time alone in a foreign country, pretty much everything else is barely even a challenge at all. If you’ve ever been afraid of growing up and having to take care of your own business, traveling is the solution. Trust me.
7. You’ll make amazing new friends.
This goes without saying. If you love travel and put yourself out there, you’ll end up meeting some really cool people. The best part is, most of them will be older, and you can draw so much inspiration from some of the wonderful world travelers out there.
8. It’s freakin’ fun.
You’re only young once, so why not spend some of that time roaming around the world, discovering and trying new things, meeting new people, and generally having a blast?
9. The world > any classroom.
Okay, so you should probably still go to school. But living in France for three months has taught me more French than two years of high school classes. That’s not even a dig at my high school French teachers—there’s just literally no comparison to learning from exposure and just learning through experience. It’s not just language, either—history, literature, philosophy, and lessons that go beyond school subjects will pretty much surround you at all times when you’re traveling.
10. You’ll grow up.
You’ll find that you’ve changed in all the best ways, that you’re suddenly more independent, vocal, and outgoing. The daily stresses of life as a teenager won’t seem like that big of a deal anymore. You’ll be ready for the real world in a way that you never even would have imagined. You will have seen a little bit more of this big, beautiful world, and you will have changed for it.
And there you have it. Ten reasons why you should travel in your teens. Happy travels.
If you want to see some travel pics and get inspired, I have a photography portfolio site! If you’re interested, go ahead and check it out.