Growing up, I had the privilege of travelling the world. My family and I traveled all the time. I’ve visited many countries, and feel so lucky to do so. As a college student now supporting myself, I try to travel as much as I possibly can.
Though it may seem expensive, travel proves extremely worthwhile and worth every bit of money spent.
Traveling as a kid has motivated me to keep traveling, to keep seeing new things and keep expanding my mind. The first time I left the country without my parents, I went on a self-financed high school graduation trip to Thailand. It became one of the best trips of my life. I went with my high school boyfriend, and we rode elephants, scuba dived and saw some of the most amazing things in the world.
I remember that very first day we checked into our hotel, bought our own dinner and made plans for the next ten days. I felt so free. I felt so excited to make my own decisions and choose what to do. Alone in an entirely new continent, I had never felt more alive. We both saved up to go on that trip and the freedom of spending my own money on an experience I really wanted showed me what I wanted to do with my savings. I wanted to travel.
Since coming to college, I have only spent my money on experiences. I flew to visit family in Wisconsin, Arizona, and even Zurich. I took my mom to Prague last summer as a birthday present and we spent the five days seeing as much as possible and acclimating to the culture of Eastern Europe.
However, as much as I love traveling with my family, sometimes traveling with friends, or even alone, has become one of my favorite thing in the world. Last year, I spent all my money on a month-long trip to London, and it became one of the best summers of my life. I got a bartender’s license, saw 12 West End shows (the UK’s Broadway) and decided that I want to move to London when I graduate, visa permitting.
When I had decided I to spend an entire month in London by myself, my parents felt scared, although I did not. The city made me feel rejuvenated. I walked through it every day and every night and had never felt more myself. I knew I wanted to live here in a place surrounded by the arts, city that made me feel inspired and challenged.
I spent that month making friends and learning new skills. More than that, though, I found myself. I discovered what I wanted in life and came back for my junior year of college with a new motivation and big plans for the rest of my life.
If you have the courage and the means, I highly recommend traveling alone. It may seem scary, but you will learn so much about yourself. You become a different version of yourself when left to your own devices. College serves as a time for finding yourself, but it may actually turn out harder to find yourself when you feel stuck in one place.
Now, how did I manage to do all of this? Trust me, I do not make a lot of money. I work a basic college job, but I save. A lot. I don’t expect everyone to operate the same as me or save as much as they can to go to far away places.
Even so, I feel that traveling proves one of the best experiences for students. As young college students, we can try more things on a whim. We have the spontaneity to just go up to San Francisco for the weekend with just a car and our nerve.
Travelling also teaches you a great deal. You learn how to budget, how to solve problems, how to be an adult in a foreign place and how to absolutely leave your comfort zone. But more importantly, you learn how to have so much fun with your friends, or by yourself. You get to make memories in crazy places, do lunatic things, see insane sights. I encourage every single college student to go travel somewhere they’ve never visited, even if that means you just go to a neighboring city or neighboring state.