After speaking with many of my fellow students, colleagues and friends, I've learned a lot about peoples' preconceived fears and stereotypes regarding traveling. The truth is, travel is neither difficult nor scary, even for young people. Here are some of the main concerns I've heard, and what you can do to overcome them!
"I don't have enough money to travel."
There are plenty of resources, grants, contests and scholarships available to students, post-grads and professionals throughout the world. There are also opportunities to volunteer or work abroad, which can both greatly reduce or completely cover the costs of travel and accommodation. Studying abroad is also an option for college students, and there are many scholarships and funding options available for these programs as well. Travel does not have to be costly!
"I have better things to spend my money on."
This may be true, depending on the person. But as a student-traveler, I can honestly say that traveling has been an invaluable experience in my life. The things I've learned, the people I've met and the places I've seen have truly made a lasting impact on me and have taught me so much that I would have never learned in a classroom. I've also been able to relate my experiences while traveling with things I've learned in class, seen in the news and done at work. I've talked about traveling in my interviews and with my professors. I've written about my experiences abroad in formal papers for classes. If you want to make an investment in your personal well-being, your education and your future, travel is certainly one of the best things money can buy.
"I've seen the movie Taken; it's unsafe to travel abroad."
As long as you are alert, you will be fine. I've learned from many challenging experiences, including a stolen passport, that the most important lesson to learn from traveling alone is to be attentive to your surroundings and protective of yourself.
"Traveling alone is terrifying, or I don't have anyone to travel with."
Traveling alone is not as scary as people often think. There are plenty of people in every place who are happy to help and get to know travelers. You'll make friends, I promise, and you'll probably learn a thing or two about yourself along the way.
"I've never been abroad."
All the better that you consider going! It may seem intimidating to travel internationally for the first time, but it's actually a lot easier than you think. There are many misconceptions about going abroad that are often untrue. To this, I'd say the only way to learn how to travel is to take the initiative!
"I don't have the time to travel."
Traveling does not need to last for months or even weeks. It does not need to consist of a trip across the ocean or to another continent. A trip to another city for a weekend may be just as valuable as a trip across the country. Learning about a new place doesn't mean that you have to spend a lot of time and money doing so! There are even ways to be a traveler in your own city by exploring the areas you're unfamiliar with or going to cultural events. There are many ways to be a traveler that don't have to take up a lot of time. You just need to find them.
"I need to be doing something that will show up on my resume."
Traveling has brought me plenty of real-world experience that I can definitely show on my resume. First of all, if you keep a blog during your travels, it looks very impressive when you talk about starting your own travel blog on a resume. It shows initiative and passion. Also, it can open up many opportunities, including volunteer service, international programs, etc. that look fantastic on resumes and add a unique touch. Basically, you can put traveling on your resume, you just have to explain how your travels gave you relevant experience for the working world.
"I don't know where to begin."
Not knowing where to start is probably the easiest problem to overcome. My suggestion for this is to talk with someone you know who has been abroad before and have them walk you through the process. There are plenty of resources, web sites and people out there who are more than happy to help you plan your first trip. After that, the rest is easy!
Follow Kay Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thekaydays