6 Reasons Why Traveling Abroad is Important for Young People

shannon-elder

In high school and college it is likely that you will receive some kind of encouragement to travel, study or work abroad. It may seem like you have a lot going on so you don’t seriously consider these opportunities or maybe you write them off since you plan on traveling later in life. I would encourage traveling at any age, but the earlier you can learn the lessons travel teaches the better.

When you are young you are still finding yourself and preparing for your school and career. The skills and experience you gain from traveling abroad can give you life-long personal benefits as well as a leg up in the professional world.

In high school and college you have the luxury of having flexibility since you can study anywhere in the world and have relatively long study breaks. It is a prime time to take advantage of your freedom and youth.

Top 6 reasons to travel abroad while you are young:

1. You’ll Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

As young people most of us have a pretty established comfort zone. At home with mom and dad, in a community that has known you for probably a good part of your life. You have your established, friends, activities, hangouts and possibly jobs. We become comfortable in these daily roles and the idea of breaking out them can be scary and uncomfortable.

The problem is, you learn the most in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations. In our daily routines, you know how to act and respond to people and your surroundings. Being in a new place, with different people, who hold different values and go about life differently (or not so differently you may find) strips all that familiarity away.

It can be scary, but once you figure out that you can connect with people despite differences, and you can navigate foreign environments, you become a smarter, more competent individual. Embrace the discomfort. Search for it, because it is helping you grow.

Danny Scott with Host Family resized

Greenheart Travel volunteer, Danny Scott, with host family in Costa Rica.

2. Traveling Builds Confidence

As you conquer the obstacles of figuring out how to use public transit in a foreign country, or asking for simple things in a grocery store, you are building a confidence and ability to adapt in foreign situations. I remember moving to a country where I spoke little to none of the language.

When I returned home, I moved across the country to a state where I had no family, friends or connections. The prospect of that move may have intimidated me before living abroad, but then I thought to myself, ‘Well, if I can do it abroad in a completely foreign system, I will be just fine in a place where I at least share the language.’

You realize that you CAN do things, despite the obstacles and suddenly the obstacles seem less obstructive and more like welcomed challenges.

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Greenheart Travel TEFL student taking in the city of Leon, Nicaragua.

3. You Will Develop Cultural Sensitivity

Being culturally sensitive is key in our globalizing world. It is not enough to say “people from X country are like this.” It is important to look for underlying values that may explain a certain behavior in order to practice cultural sensitivity. A good example is when I was in Spain (especially in the south), where they take a 2-3 hour siesta and lunch in the middle of their work day.

Many people view this cultural norm as the people just being lazy when it really has a lot more to do with the fact that historically Spaniards value family face time. Eating together as a family is more important to them than maximizing work time by scarfing a sandwich down at their desks.

Being aware of cultural values and norms is not only fascinating, but can help us understand international issues and conflicts, or even relate to the cultural norms of a foreign business partner. It is an important skill to be able to shift perspectives and see where someone else is coming from.

Cultural sensitivity will help you with your communication on both business and personal levels.

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Greenheart Travel high school student in Spain.

4. You Can Adapt to Globalization

Whether you like it or not, with the internet and social media, we are globalizing quickly. It is not unlikely that you would end up with a job that has you travel for business or take part in conference calls with international business partners. In our globalizing world it is important to be culturally sensitive and it can’t hurt to know a foreign language.

In the business world, having lived abroad can give you a competitive edge. Use the confidence and cultural sensitivity that traveling helps you develop and help it make you successful.

volunteer-in-thailand

Get work experience teaching English or completing an internship in Thailand.

5. Be Immersed in a Second (or Third) Language

Before I lived abroad I never truly understood the beauty of becoming fluent or even proficient in another language. In the United States we don’t need to know another language, or many would argue that. Once you travel abroad you realize that especially in Europe, almost everyone you meet speaks at least two languages somewhat proficiently.

We in the States have a bit of a disadvantage since geographically we cannot country-hop as easily as Europeans can. This is why traveling, especially for us, is even more important.  I would argue that in the globalizing world it really can only benefit you to speak another language. Not to mention, it opens up a whole new world of people you can now connect with and understand that you would never have gotten the chance to get to know had you never learned their language.

Living abroad is really the best way to learn a new language since you are forced to challenge and practice your skills on a daily basis.

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Greenheart Travel students perfect their French language schools at our language camp in Paris.

6. Infinite Opportunities to Network

I have studied and worked abroad and made some incredibly valuable connections. If you are interested in working internationally or even just having a couch to stay on in a country that you love, never underestimate the value of networking wherever you go.

One thing I have learned in my time abroad is that people are generally very friendly and love to talk about their home and culture. This is not always the case, but more than often it is. Making friendships abroad can make this big world seem a little smaller and help you feel more connected wherever you go.

The best advice I can give is to meet as many people on your travels as you can. It will definitely make your time abroad more enjoyable since the locals know best! Plus you never know when these connections will come in handy in the future whether visiting each other for fun or otherwise.

Do you agree or have you traveled abroad as a young person? Share your experience in the comments below!

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80 thoughts on "6 Reasons Why Traveling Abroad is Important for Young People"

  1. Megan Adler says:

    It’s great that you mentioned that living abroad can boost your confidence because you have to learn to do everything by yourself. My son wants to get Australia for a year and my husband and I are debating whether we should let him go. I’m glad I found your blog because reading about your experience and seeing how great it was for you, makes me feel more at ease about letting my son go to Australia. https://gointernational.ca/work-travel/australia-silver-and-gold-package/

  2. Why Do Women Dump Men? says:

    Most what i read online is trash and copy paste but i think you offer something different. Keep it like this.

  3. Margaret says:

    Travel is fun. Your blog is great. I am very interested.
    Thanks

  4. Eli Richardson says:

    You have provided so many useful reasons to travel. From my point of view, traveling is an essential way to get out of your comfort zone. My nephews have been planning a cross-country trip. I will help them with their getaway by convincing my brother of this opportunity.
    http://brownintransport.com/trips-tours/

  5. Rosie Beckett says:

    My husband and I have been wanting to travel abroad for the past few years. It makes a lot of sense that you say traveling will help us to learn more about different cultures and get out of our comfort zone. Plus, this way we can meet new people, try new foods, and gain more confidence in ourselves. https://travgates.com/cheap-flights/

  6. FIDELIS says:

    AM SO AMAZING AND AM SO GREATFUL.

  7. ely says:

    This is absolutely amazing article …

  8. Paul PP says:

    Hi, this is an amazing article,all points are so true.

  9. Nadeema says:

    It’s great eassy I like it

  10. Sanvi says:

    Hi, your article is absolutely amazing, and true! I was writing an essay on this, and these points helped me a lot.

  11. Shreyashi says:

    Yee i love to do travels… Because it refresh the mood… And also we have a break in our life….

  12. Ismoilkhan says:

    Hi.I have traveled 5 times to Turkey And found it fascinating
    Every time you meet new people from different backgrounds an views. Hence I regret not communicating as much with locals

  13. Ruchika says:

    Travelling solo Hi i went through your article you writing skills wonderful. Thanks for wonderful peace of information

  14. Salini Susan Renji says:

    Thank you for the valuable information..
    It was really resourceful…
    🛫

  15. kylie jenner says:

    wow! This was amazingly helpful, i already travel around the world a lot; but i never knew how different it was for other people who don’t get the chance to travel! thank you for this website. 🙂

    Kylie Jenner :3

  16. sam smith says:

    very helpful 😉

  17. Morangi fred says:

    Helpfully zone

  18. mama newt says:

    awesome

  19. Moushumi says:

    As young people most of us have a pretty established comfort zone. Travelling to abroad be really unforgettable time. Because you visit and meet many new place and people, which you haven’t ever visited or meet in your country.

  20. sami says:

    Travelling to abroad is really unforgettable time. Because you will be familiar with many new things which you haven’t ever seen in your country.
    Actually, i was in “Turkey” since 2014. that was my first trip for abroad,So i could know some new people and new culture,also delicious food, too. Although, I stayed a week from there, actually I thought that was just a moment..

  21. VARUN MEHTA says:

    Travelling Abroad is a unique experience. You can get Broad attitude and your thinking can gone advance.

  22. Daniel Eyarhono says:

    Wow, the content of this article is so rich. I have learnt a lot from this, I will use this opportunity to learn Arabic as I am presently living in an Arabic country speaking (Qatar).
    Though English is also widely spoken, I am glad I came across this article because it has really opened my eyes to a lot.

  23. Vansh says:

    Great! Really like your article.. 🙂

  24. Milan says:

    I am a 27 year old U.S. citizen and have been to Europe twice. Both times on my own, first Paris when I was 25, and then London the following year. I am going to Madrid next in the upcoming weeks, also solo. I must say it has been such an enriching experience being able to travel abroad. It has made me a more open-minded, well rounded individual. I believe doing just simple thinks like exploring the streets of Paris was just an eye opening task and being able to do it alone was the cherry on top. I have a taste for travel and want to continue to explore outside of my home country to different lands.

  25. Maxim says:

    You said that the US has only neighbors that only speak English and Spanish ? As far as I remember, there is an entire region in Canada that only speaks French. If you search a bit further, French and English are both official languages of Canada. Does not seem you know a lot about the world…

  26. SAM says:

    that is so good to hear. and i pray you guys help me too thanks

  27. Angela says:

    I live on the Columbia river on the oregon side aboard a sail boat. I traveled for the first time ever ending up in mexico. I loved the culture and people. We are planning to sail across the world soon and never look back. I am so excited to live life😀

    1. Kim says:

      That awsome I love my country so much I prefer to travel and comeback to my country (-.-). Ily UAE

  28. Freya says:

    hiya! I’m 13 years old and I’m currently travelling the world for a year, I’ve left school and I’m being homeschooled instead by lots of amazing tutors and a great syllabus, my friends say I’m going to come back dumb, and as much as I try not to believe them it really hurts when they say that. I just want to have a nice time but it’s hard when people say ‘you’re going to come back so stupid’ and ‘you’re going to fail in life’

    1. Uli Heflin says:

      Freya, please don’t listen to those negative people who say anything like that to you EVER. I believe part of them are most likely very jealous. The opportunity to travel for a year is beyond most people and it is such an awesome opportunity for you. It will enrich you for your whole life. I believe you will come back much further advanced then any of your peers, because you are learning and experiencing cultures at a very young age. It will make you independent and very strong and will create a mind that will not fail and will be sensitive to other cultures around you. You will be a leader among your peers. You will have experience that is extremely valuable that others will never possess. Don’t be dragged down by these people’s opinion when they have never been there or done that nor are they speaking from any kind of experience otherwise they would never tell you that. Make new friends because these friends here are no friends to you. Everyone knows that traveling abroad enriches your life forever and being home schooled is much better then going to any public or private schools. Kids that are homeschooled have much higher scores then kids who go to public or private schools. Kids who are homeschooled Become much more successful then kids who graduated from public or private schools. These so called friends would rather see you fail then encourage you to succeed. Don’t listen to them. Drop them. Make better friends. I’ve traveled the world and I know from experience you will be a success.

  29. Tamara C O says:

    Great post! I have really felt identified with your words because I have been living aboad for 6 months to improve my english. I am from Spain and I am aware of the thought about spanish people and the laziness, but I want to add that only a group of population decide to sleep after having the lunch, especially in summer timme when they are on holidays and they dont have to work. During the rest of the year it is impossible to sleep in the afternoon if you are working. But I respect that tourists think so, it is our norm like you have said.
    The next month I am gonna do my C1 exam by Trinity and I am gonna use the ideas of this post to give arguments.
    regards

  30. Discounts Gyan says:

    Great reasons.

  31. Belinda says:

    Hi, regarding your cultural sentitivity comment about Spain, I must say that the point was completely missed. There is no such thing as a 2-3 hour siesta nowadays as this modern wolrd does not allow that privilege except for little kids. In addition, a siesta is definitely not because the Spanish people value family time. It’s due to the fact that the long days of activity and work do not finish before ten in the evening which I assume you haven’t considered in your speculations. Next time you mention cultural sentivity, please make sure you have your facts straight. Thank you.

    1. Jeannie Mooney says:

      Please read to update yourself onthe most current facts:
      https://www.tripsavvy.com/why-do-you-sleep-during-siesta-1644327

      I don’t think the writer of this article was completely wrong. There are other reasons important to note, too!

  32. Sunshine says:

    Well as yet young person I’d lived out of my home country for 3 years at that time I had have interesting experiences, challenges and amazing opportunities. Now I’m back in my country I pretend visit other countries and get more and more culture and learning. It’s very important to me and believe me it enriches life.

  33. Kamal says:

    Yes of course due to the advance technology and modernisation , youngster should travel another land and they will become more intelligent and friendly nature. Moreover they will get more responsible regarding their future and they will enhance their knowledge

  34. sampson danielson says:

    Thanks for such thoughts

  35. Asongafac jingeh brandon says:

    that is so good to hear. and i pray you guys help me too thanks

  36. Anna says:

    As someone who has lived abroad for over half her life, I completely agree with this list! I moved to China from my home country of Brazil when I was just seven years old. It was beyond frightening leaving your family, your friends, everything you have ever known behind. It took some time to adapt to a whole new culture, but I always tell my parents that it was the best decision they have ever made. I would have never been this open-minded, tolerant, competent etc if they had never taken that very scary step.

    There were students from 43 different countries at my school, so I grew up with people from all walks of life; people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, and religions. I know how to speak English, Portuguese, Mandarin, and French and am used to having to communicate with people that speak other languages too.
    I didn’t recognize that normal people didn’t experience that until I moved back to Brazil.

    Even as diverse as Brazil is, I found that most people there lived in a bubble, too accustomed to their surroundings and very close-minded. The thought of moving to another state, much less another country, made them shake in their boots. It is never good to feel that comfortable, to think the way you live life is the only and right way. I’m only 18 but I travel by myself all the time, always chasing adventures, longing to encounter new people, and experience new cultures. If you are thinking about travelling or living abroad, do it. It is scary being ripped away from everything you know, but I’ve come to believe it is essential for personal growth.

    1. Eric says:

      Thank you for your comment Anna, I envy you… all the best in your future endeavors 🙂

      1. Adebayo says:

        I’m Adesina Adebayo. Having read this article and comments. I feel excited about my just concluded decision to travel to Dubai. W

  37. Michele says:

    Travelling is such a beautiful thing to do. Travel allows us to shape our own world, see it and understand it first hand. Totally agree with the points shared. thanks for giving me the inspiration i was trying to develop by reading such blogs. http://himalayadestination.com/blog/why-you-should-travel/ even this blog has given me the extra wings. Thought to share with you too. lots of things can be build up in young age.

  38. SAMUEL says:

    Morning, I have never travelled

  39. Marius says:

    I beg your pardon Bethlehem, but I just returned from a month long study abroad all across Spain, and I quickly noticed that the majority of the country does indeed take a 2-3 of even 4 hour nap (Siesta) after lunch. There are definitely certain people, places, and businesses that only take a short time off; however, the vast majority of the country does essentially “shut down” for 2-3 hours during the afternoon.

    Thank you for providing this great information! I really enjoyed reading it.

  40. Ruth Kinloch says:

    All of these statements are reasonable, thanks for sharing that! I agree that studying abroad teaches you to be more global-minded, more open and confident in the things you do. Once a student is away from family and friends she shouldn’t miss them much, but try to explore an entirely new social and cultural environment and get every single benefit from such experience.

  41. travel says:

    Thanks for post .It’s a nice post. My dream to travel outdoors. For more on advantage of travelling after graduation, visittravel

  42. hannah says:

    i agree with all you said i am 15 and travel a lot even with my school which is fn

  43. M.I.H Shaheen says:

    Its my dream to travel abroad.i would like to travel abroad but i don’t now proper channel about that,hope you will hep me to fill up dream

  44. Kriti says:

    You get more open minded and independent. Very nice article and quite motivational. Thanks for sharing such great points. For more on benefits of travelling after graduation, visit- http://www.tripexperienceblog.com/tag/benefits-of-travelling/

  45. Bethlehem ♣ says:

    In Spain, they don´t take 2-3 hour of siesta plus the lunch. That´s a lie. Just some of us take a nap after lunch but it’s not more than 30 minutes. But you’re are right in one thing, we value famile more than time.

  46. Jenna Francisco says:

    So many good points here! I agree with them all and found that traveling abroad when I was 20 changed my life!

    1. Simon patience says:

      OK

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