Perhaps you’ve just finished college and you’ve decided to take a year out. Maybe you’ve just finished University and now is your ideal opportunity to head out and see the world, before settling into a serious career. It’s time to learn something about the world, right? Well, yes but don’t stop there…
Swathes of people choose to travel when they are young and never do another extended trip again, their whole life.
As young people head of to experience the world at 18 to 25 years old, they might not yet be brave enough, at that age, to venture much further than English-speaking countries. They may only go as far as booking pre-arranged trips with guides and get a filtered experience of their destinations.
As so many young people have exactly the same idea – to travel at this age – they often spend most of their time with other like-minded individuals, from similar backgrounds, doing exactly the same thing as them. I’m not sure this kind of travel experience helps people learn as much about the world as they expect it too.
Now, I’m not criticising anyone who follows this path. It is great to get out and see some of the world at a young age. It is fantastic to travel, as a practical, field-based continuation of your education. But we want this to be the start of a lifelong series of adventure – not the only one you ever take.
The Life Plan
It is what our society expects, that we want to challenge: You get a GAP year and then you are expected to get your head down and work hard for the rest of your life. You may get married, take on mortgage, are expected to get promoted, have a family and so on. Lots and lots of hard work and serious commitments.
If this is to be your life, then expect your only trips abroad will be snatched breaks in the sunshine, lying on a beach because you are so tired from working your ass off, you aren’t able to do much more.
From a global point of view, is it any wonder we live on a planet where there is so much tension between differing races, creeds, religions and cultures, when there is so little opportunity for people from different regions to understand each other.
Can you make time for travel?
What would happen if you made time for travel? Imagine if you were able to take a career break for a year in your thirties, then again in your forties and fifties. Would you think about venturing further afield? Would it open your eyes to other cultures.
Why not even permanently travel? More and more people these days are ditching their negative jobs and go in search of something more. People who want to discover what the world has to offer and see for themselves, whilst working as digital nomads.
A World View
If there’s something I’ve learned from looking at the world through TV news or a Newspaper by comparison to in person, it is that the programme makers and editors rarely have no agenda. They thrive on global tensions, on creating enemies and asking you to choose sides.
Before I went to Colombia, I was informed by the media that it was a dangerous, intolerant place. In fact, I found a country that certainly had less financial wealth than my home but a much greater sense of community spirit and for want of a better term, a happier people. I learned something valuable there.
In Colombia, family means everything, they know their neighbors, they share with each other and they have a generally positive outlook on life. They are less reserved and more open emotionally, which is better for mental health. So next time you are watching news stories, bear in mind that whilst Colombia has its problems like every other country, it had some very beautiful sides to it that we are not shown.
As a side note: it’s also worth mentioning that the drug cartels of Colombia wouldn’t have been anywhere near as big, had Western citizens not had an insatiable appetite to buy those drugs. And perhaps our citizens had that insatiable appetite because they weren’t as happy in their lives as they could be, being expected to work so hard for companies that put profits before people.
Most Americans get only two weeks of vacation time each year. Many don’t take their vacation time out of fear of losing their job. One in four takes no paid vacation time at all.
I love to travel but understand I have to balance it with all the different aspects of my life. I hope to be able to strike a balance between work, family, recreational, educational and community activities. In this day and age, it is very hard but I’m going to make time.
Life is like a cooking recipe and for it to taste best, we need to get the right ingredients and balance them nicely.