Apart from teaching me how to take a killer selfie…
Traveling the world is my ultimate passion and it definitely stemmed from my parents. Both my mother and father have traveled extensively and they took me and my brother around the world when we were just 2 and 4 years old. We went traveling for a year and visited parts of almost every continent. We went across North America, Europe, Africa and parts of Australasia. My dad was always filming home videos and growing up watching them inspired me.
My dad took us on a cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu when I was 13 and to the United States when I was 15 and I fell in love with the excitement of being in a new place. We would travel Australia a lot and then when I was 18, my mother took us to Thailand. The USA was amazing but I fell in love with Thailand. A completely different world only a 9 hour flight from home. The people were beautiful, even though they were struggling in a third world country and the beautiful landscape was incredible.
Next, I booked a trip to Bali, Indonesia with a group of friends and months later I would set off on a solo trip to Europe, and it would be the best thing I ever did.
IT TAUGHT ME THE VALUE OF MONEY
Money. Life’s major issue. Whilst most people use the excuse that they “can’t afford to travel”, I quickly learned that if you try hard enough you definitely can. By changing my spending habits I was shocked at how much I could save and just how far money can go. By saving just $50 a week you can earn over $2500 a year, and $50 should not be hard. It only took me under 6 months to save for a $10,000 trip around Europe. Traveling really taught me how to budget and save money for the important things.
IT TAUGHT ME TO BE INDEPENDENT
When I originally wanted to travel to Europe on my first big trip without my family, I had planned to do it in July of 2012 with a friend. Right before we were about to book it, she cancelled on me and I was distraught. Later on in the year I realized that I was missing out on a great opportunity, and just decided to book it for January 2013, right before I would start university and do it solo. I had always been a little independent, but traveling Europe alone gave me a new outlook on life and taught me how important it is to be independent. To be comfortable with yourself and to enjoy your own company means you will never feel alone and you can take on any of life’s challenges and learn more than you would relying on other people.
IT TAUGHT ME TO APPRECIATE WHAT I HAVE
Going to countries like Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico and Belize really opens your eyes to the poor conditions others live in and just how lucky you are to live in a developed world. I truly believe Australia is one of the luckiest countries in the world to have the healthcare, education and lifestyles we do. We can sometimes forget that even having a roof over our heads, a bed to sleep in at night or a fridge to put our food in is a privilege in most of the world. Traveling really opens your eyes and makes everything you get or have mean so much more.
IT TAUGHT ME THE VALUE OF HELPING OTHERS
Because of the reason above, it also made me realize how important it is to donate to third world countries and appreciate governments allocating funds to these nations. Many people complain that these governments need to focus on their own country first and quite frankly, I believe this is selfish. We all live on this earth and for some people to not even have access to clean drinking water and food is horrible. The old saying goes ‘put yourself in their shoes’.
IT TAUGHT ME HOW BIG THE WORLD REALLY IS
Just traveling through Europe, it amazed me at the different cultures in such a close proximity to each other. Every country is so unique and whilst the world may seem small with the access to flights we have today, it really is so big with so many unique places to explore. Having been to 22 countries, I was amazed to find out I have only been to about 8% of the world. 92% to go!
IT TAUGHT ME TO BE OUTGOING & MAKE FRIENDS
Staying in hostels is the best way to meet new people. As a solo traveler, you meet like-minded people from across the world, most also traveling alone. The backpacking community is really something to be proud of and I am yet to meet a mean young traveler. Through the friendships you make, you also make great connections so you have free accommodation and advice from all over the world.
IT TAUGHT ME THAT I’M ONLY YOUNG ONCE!
It might sound cliche, but you really only get one life, so spend it wisely. If travel isn’t for you, then that is completely up to you but I definitely encourage everyone to travel at least once. When you are young you can afford to travel without luxury and just enjoy the environment. You can afford to sleep on cheap hostel bunk beds, eat cheap food from the street and be active while you’re hungover after a big night out. You’re youth wont be around forever, so use it while you can!