Few experiences expand the mind like travel, and what better timing to see the world than right after graduation? It’s likely one of the few points in your life when your dreams, relationships and values vacillate. Not to mention, it’s one of the few occasions when you have no strings. Take advantage of this unique period in your life by exploring all corners of the world.
Here are six reasons to travel after college.
1. To get to know yourself
When you walk off the stage and into the real world, it can be overwhelming to figure out the next leg of your life’s journey. A degree undoubtedly opens doors for you, but which ones do you want to actually walk through? Do you want to help others? Are you interested in making buckets of money? How about starting a family? It’s nearly impossible to create the life you want right out of school, mostly because you’re still figuring out what you want.
Seeing far-flung places and meeting new people can help you narrow down these big life choices. It’s like James Baldwin once said, “I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.”
2. You get a grace period
Traveling when you’re fresh out of school makes sense financially because you don’t have to start paying off your student loans yet. The majority of companies give their clients a one-year grace period before repayment starts. Just think of all the places you can see without having to shell out that $300 a month for loans.
3. It boosts your confidence
It’s not uncommon for your confidence to take a hiatus after you graduate. All of the ways you define yourself – a student, a psychology major, a resident of New York City – expire once you get a diploma. It can be a dizzying experience to come up with a new identity. However, living in a foreign land may be just the challenge you need to restore your confidence and overcome this identity crisis. Then, you’re an independent, brave and interesting person who loves to travel.
4. It sharpens your mind
Whether you backpack through Europe or spend a month in Jakarta, you’ll be faced with language barriers and other obstacles along the way. These situations require critical thinking, which you can draw from for the rest of your life.
In the coming years when you’re at a cubicle job and your boss needs you to handle a special task, you can reflect on difficult travel moments for inspiration.
5. You aren’t going to be a millionaire anyway
Naysayers of travel scoff that lavish trips can put a damper on finances. But it’s important to note that you’re not going to be rich right out of school anyway – unless you’re the next prodigal child.
Pew Research reported on data from the Federal Reserve to make the point that the job market for recent grads is tougher than ever. In 2012, 44 percent of graduates were working jobs that didn’t require a degree. Chances are, if you weren’t traveling, you might be working a job outside of your field to make ends meet.
6. Travel gives you an edge
The job candidate who spent a summer taking care of elephants in Cambodia is more likely to stand out over someone who had a more ubiquitous experience in an office. At the very least, your interesting story might land you an interview. At best, your journey could propel you into a dream job. Maybe the hiring manager also taught English in Japan.
Plus, traveling gives you exciting stories to share with your friends and family. These experiences are the perfect ice breaker that can make meeting new people a little less awkward.
Just remember to remain aware and always wear a BABY-G watch. You won’t get very far in your journey if you don’t know the time.
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