20 Reasons You Should Travel Alone Before Turning 20

20 Reasons You Should Travel Alone Before Turning 20

Independence begins with a plane ticket.

I recently had the chance to visit a friend in another state, but most importantly, I had the chance to travel alone. For those that have a parent living in another state, traveling alone seems like nothing, but the reality is that most teens never have the chance to travel by themselves. Learning the art of traveling and doing it without your parents or friends is one of the greatest chances to learn about yourself and about others. Traveling alone increases problem-solving skills, expands your understanding of other cultures, expands your resume, and teaches you to manage life on your own. Here are 20 reasons you should travel before turning 20.

1. Valuing travel sets the stage for the rest of your life.

Learning where travel fits into your life now sets the stage for years to come. Make travel a passion why you still can, that habit will manifest itself again and again for years to come.

2. Independent networking is vital.

People matter. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you will have. Open doors for yourself all over the world why you have the chance. It'll pay off for sure.

3. We all need to learn to save.

Setting aside part of your paycheck is extremely challenging at any age. Saving for a plane ticket or a big trip is a great way to teach yourself to save your money.

4. History exists and we need to care.

The United States is certainly filled with history but you have no idea what the world holds until you see it yourself. There's no better way to learn about the past than experiencing the locations yourself.

5. We need to grow our problem-solving skills.

Traveling, hiking, and experiencing new people and places is prime problem-solving practice. Forcing yourself to navigate a new place makes all the difference in your everyday life.

6. It's time for us to get out of our comfort zones.

You won't truly grow until you are a little uncomfortable. Traveling alone will pull you from that comfort zone and return you a much stronger person.

7. Many of us have not developed independent personalities.

It's hard to develop your own personality when you're living in the shadow of friends and family. Being on your own and around new people that do not know you in another setting helps you uncover your true personality.

8. Traveling puts life in perspective.

When you're finally around others that are different from you, you have the chance to value what you do have and what others may not. Traveling will really help you break down your barriers and put your own life into perspective.

9. There's no better time than now to make new friends.

There are few things cooler than having friends from all over the world. Get out there. Meet new people. Come home with friends of all ages.

10. Traveling builds our resume.

Employers love a well-rounded candidate. Being able to bring in experience from time spent abroad or in various states sets you apart from many others.

11. The ability to speak from experience about other places is vital.

A strong resume is one thing but being able to hold an intelligent conversation is another. There are few things better than being able to take your own pictures and have your own stories, you'll become more impressive than ever before.

12. Diversity is learned through experience.

There are countless cultures different from our own. Seeing diversity with our own two eyes is a great way to learn something new.

13. Being away from home makes us appreciate it more.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right? Being away from your "home base" makes you realize the things about home you love the most.

14. Traveling helps you distinguish what you want out of a job.

Being able to decide whether or not you want to travel through work is vital to your happiness. There's no way to know until you try it.

15. We'll learn the art of spontaneity.

Sometimes not planning is the best plan of all. Knowing how to be spontaneous is a great life skill, traveling will break down every boundary you have.

16. Traveling teaches us how to de-stress.

Learning to manage stress is something not many people have mastered. We all need to take time off and appreciate ourselves.

17. Traveling invites the opportunity to get lost.

Getting lost is a beautiful thing. Giving yourself the chance to get lost and discover new paths is the best part of travel.

18. We'll learn a tremendous amount about ourselves.

Testing your limits, hiking a mountain, flying to a new place and traveling alone in general will allow you to learn about yourself in an all-new way.

19. We'll learn to appreciate our time alone.

Solitude is a beautiful thing. The art of being alone is a practice that takes time. Being able to travel on your own is a great opportunity to learn how to live without your parents.

20. You finally FEEL independent.

Independence should be exciting and new. Before you turn 20, travel alone. You'll thank yourself for years to come.

The move towards independence is a weird transition. It seems like a lot of us move from high school to college with almost no prompting. Learning to be independent often times feels more stressful than it should be. Being independent and learning about yourself for the first time in your life should be exciting and full of new experiences. Take a leap of faith, book a plane ticket, plan a road trip, schedule a train trip. You'll return happier and substantially more independent than you were before you left.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.


For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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