Don’t start your job.
Don’t sign on for an apartment.
Don’t do anything besides buy a plane ticket out of your city.
If you can, make traveling your biggest priority right now.
When I checked in to my very first hostel in New Orleans, I was surrounded by mostly millennial folks from different countries. There was a guy from London, who I would later help transport all the way to Phoenix; a group from Australia, who just graduated and got back from Vegas (how?); and even a couple girls from New Zealand who wanted to hear the famed jazz bands of The Big Easy while strolling down Bourbon Street.
New Orleans was my first stop on what would become a four-month road trip across the country. The lights excited me, the music tingled my fingers, and the narrow streets beckoned me forward.
In New Orleans I realized there were people like me. Millennials who travel to foreign countries and sleep in cheap hostels and stay out until six in the morning.
I was hundreds of miles from home, but I felt oddly comfortable with, who I can only call, my kind of people. In the coming weeks as I traveled to cities like Austin, Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, my perspective on life swung dramatically. I talked about Brexit, a topic I would’ve never paid attention to otherwise, with my new friend from London. I began gaining many more liberal perspectives during my stay in San Francisco, and I saw the most beautiful mountains I’d ever seen at Glacier National Park in Montana.
After this, the goals I held for so long lost meaning–the goals to settle down in one place, get a job, and get married.
Some people call this wanderlust, but I think of it as a lust for more purpose, too.
My life has taken on considerable meaning in the past few months. I’ve visited old friends, gained more love for the beauty of my country and its citizens, and decided to travel the world while writing about it to inspire and spread the word regarding subjects close to my heart. Through travel, I feel like I’ve found the path I am meant to be on right now.
This broadening of the mind, so to speak, is why us millennials need to travel in my opinion. Plenty of research and studies have been done on millennials in the workplace, finding over and over again that as a generation, we are seeking purpose. We want our work to have a cause, to mean something. It only makes sense that our search for meaning should transcends the workplace.
Traveling in your twenties can help shape you into the person you were meant to be. Often times, it’s the first opportunity to truly be free. Free from parents, teachers, and what others are telling you to do. I’ve realized that my existence on this planet is just a drop in the ocean, and that everyone in America does not always think like those from my hometown.
I’ve seen humanity do incredible things together. The foreign people you meet, and the strangers you brush shoulders with on the sidewalk who are wearing something you’ve never seen before, along with the street performers attracting crowds–they’re all perfectly themselves. And after you do punch your ticket, and wander around on foreign soil, and meet people who are every bit as amazing as they are wacky, you’re going to come back a new person with a new love for this world, and for yourself.
That’s why your first priority should be to travel. Travel as soon as you can and as much as you can. Push your comfort zone. Test yourself. You are stronger than you think and it’s one of the rare times in life you can truly get to know your soul without all of the noise of pre-judgments and expectations on you.
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