Darcy and I started traveling, both of us without much previous travel experience, shortly after we had met and started dating. We first started with closer locations, like taking a trip down to Seattle, WA from our hometown in Vancouver, BC. We visited California, Mexico, Hawaii and took off around Europe, to name a few. The travel bug bit us, and we were off!
When you’re young, and you are funding your own travels (we met a few people backpacking in Europe who were having their travels paid for by Mommy and Daddy), you learn how to survive on what you have. You realize that you really don’t need much money to see and experience the most important parts of travel and you learn that you certainly don’t need to have an overflowing bank account to have a great time.
You learn that you don’t need to stay in a luxury hotel (though it is a great feeling when you get to), because it’s really only where you lay your head. You realize that the best moments in life are the simple ones, like picnics in a park, and getting out and wandering the streets of an unfamiliar place. You realize that more money really can just get in the way, change the way you see the world and can start to create distance between yourself and the place you came to discover.
When you’re young, you’re better able to bounce back when you’ve had a late night, are more satisfied with a cheap breakfast, packing a lunch and cheap wine, cheese and crackers in front of the Eiffel Tower as it sparkles at night.
We’re especially glad we were able to experience Europe when we were young and broke. Had we waited until later in life, the experience would have been much different and looking back, part of the magic of our trip would have not existed. When we think back to our Europe travels, we still have stars in our eyes. We lived cheaply (Nutella sandwiches, anyone?) and had some of the best experiences we have ever had. Traveling young opens your eyes up to so many amazing possibilities that life has to offer, so many different ways of life, different belief systems and a different way of doing things. Life is fascinating on every corner of the globe.
We found that travelling young made us more street smart. Traveling will teach you so many things that can be applied to your daily life. You learn first-hand life skills from the real-world, things you just cannot learn from a textbook.
We find that people with great stories to tell are more interesting to talk to. You’ll be able to open the eyes of those around you to many of your lessons learned while traveling. And, even better yet, you’ll be able to inspire people. It is a great feeling when you hear someone decided to take off traveling because your trip inspired them to explore the world.
We always love being exposed to different cultures and ways of life. You grew up with one belief system, but does it really stop there? Traveling will open your eyes to many different and beautiful cultures and religions. You’ll learn how to see the world from a different perspective and how beautiful it can be to see life through someone else’s eyes.
Travel has really helped us understand responsibility and grow our independence. When you’re traveling, you learn how to be responsible and figure things out on your own. When you’re traveling, you’ll either sink or swim, so you have to learn how to swim through any situation. You’ll become a stronger, more independent person because of it.
We also learned a lot about watching our money on our backpacking trip around Europe. We were so determined to do a good job that we came back $2,000 CDN under budget. Maybe we didn’t have to cheap out on food so much and could have traded a few of those lunchtime Nutella sandwiches for something more substantial, but we really learned the value of money. Also, there are less monetary attachments when you’re younger. Now we have a family, a mortgage, car payments, attachments that we can’t just walk away from. It was easier in our twenties to have a sense of freedom, travel longer term, more often and with less commitments.
As we get older, now in our early thirties, and with kids in tow, we can’t travel how we used to anymore, but we don’t view it as something negative. It is a beautiful transformation and though we will never be able to travel like we did in our twenties, one day we will look back and miss this part of our travel life. Our twenties are filled with so many great memories that gave us such a burning desire to introduce our kids to travel and though traveling with kids isn’t always easy, our travels even ten years ago really showed us why travel is so important and everything it can help us teach our children.
One of our most important realizations was that travel helps you decide what you want in life. Instead of sitting around trying to figure out what you want from life, traveling can help to diversify your experience and discover what your purpose or calling is in life. You’re able to experiment with something different in each country, be it new food, culture, or people. You’re able to really realize what your desires are sooner — instead of when you feel it is too late.
If you didn’t start traveling when you were young, we urge you to find a way to travel now. Travel doesn’t always have to be to far off places for an adventure. You owe it to yourself to do more than work to pay bills until you die.
The only regret we have about traveling when we were younger, is though we have so many amazing memories etched in our minds, our little point and shoot cameras really didn’t do our travels justice. The majority of our photos from our ‘young’, pre-kid travels suck. They really do, and no amount of editing can save them. But, perhaps that is a good thing. It gives us reason to return and experience a destination from a different perspective, a different time in our life.
Did you travel when you were younger? Do you agree with us?