As I’m sure you can imagine, telling my family and friends that I planned to travel solo for 12 months was met with considerable concern. A bright-eyed but relatively naive 18-year-old, I was fresh out of high school, and a number of relatives who believed the trip was irresponsible launched a full-scale campaign to stop me (their efforts were in vain).
But after having extensively traveled at 18 & 19, I would actually argue the opposite. I would argue that encouraging travel is one of the most responsible things you can do for a girl in her teens.
If I have one regret from my teenage years it’s that I didn’t travel sooner. So whether you’re a teenage girl yourself, or a parent wondering if you should send your daughter overseas, from personal experience, the following are 7 compelling reasons why every girl should travel in their teens.
Seven Reasons Every Girl Should Travel in Her Teens
Builds Confidence and Self Esteem
One of the biggest issues teenage girls face today is confidence and self esteem. But travel is incredibly empowering, and this could be exactly the type of life experience they need.
Travel naturally forces you out of your comfort zone, and learning how to overcome challenges on your own is a huge step towards developing self worth and confidence. It also forces you to make decisions, and obliterates the self imposed limits we place on ourselves.
For every teen who has ever said “I can’t do that“, or “I’m not that type of person“, travel challenges your beliefs about who you are and what you’re capable of. It forces you to face your insecurities and helps you overcome your fears.
“Whether you strike up a fast friendship despite thinking that you’re painfully shy, or navigate a new city alone despite thinking you could never travel solo, the more you knock over long-held beliefs, more things in life will seem possible.
Plus, the life experience makes you more interesting!
It Smacks You With a Reality Check
For the teenager so caught up in their own world that they can’t see the bigger picture, travel is a fantastic opportunity to receive a much needed reality check.
Traveling will open your eyes to how large the world truly is, and how many people co-exist on this earth. We’re one of 7.6 BILLION people, and you realize quite quickly that the world doesn’t revolve around you.
This realization goes a long way to keeping you humble, and forces you to acknowledge what a small part in this world you actually occupy. It also gives you perspective on what is truly important in life.
After travel you realize just how many comforts we take for granted, and this realization – the ability to appreciate the small things in life and not confuse “want” with “need” – is the beginning of true happiness. You realize that things like having acne, or Brittney stealing your boyfriend, really aren’t that big on the true scale of things.
Problem Solving Skills & Common Sense
Travel is one of the greatest ways to develop your problem solving skills and common sense. Because if there’ one thing international travel will teach you it is the ability to think on your feet and adapt to change.
International travelers are constantly faced with new challenges and unknown circumstances, and the ability to react accordingly is a skill you don’t learn in the classroom. Plus, knowing that you can handle stressful situations goes a long way to building your confidence.
Re common sense, let’s be honest, we’re living in an age where common sense is not so common. But travel teaches you to survive by yourself, and imparts a sense of practical thinking and street smarts. A stranger offers you a drink? You don’t take it. That time of the month? You travel wearing Knixteen.
You’ll learn to be observant of your surroundings, to make practical decisions in the moment, and to be ready for change. You’ll learn good sense and sound judgement in practical situations, and how to perceive, understand and judge a situation in a sensible and level headed way.
Encourages Bi Lingual Skills
Being bi-lingual opens up new social and cultural opportunities, meaning you can interact with different people and understand the nuances of another culture. For teens, this means you might have more opportunities to make friends and achieve a more local experience while abroad.
But being bi lingual can also improve your career opportunities, and if you want to learn a new language, it’s easier to start when you’re young.
It’s no secret that post-millennial’s are facing one of the most competitive job markets in history, but living in the digital age has opened up many international borders that allow for the seamless integration of employees regardless of geographical location.
As technology breaks down global economic barriers, employment trends are changing. There will always be a need for a bilingual workforce, and you might find that being fluent in another language will increase your career options, and / or put you at an advantage for your chosen job.
Invaluable People Skills
We’re living in an age where face to face contact is rare, and teenager’s people skills are suffering for it. Post-millennial’s are struggling with face to face communication because they’ve always had the ability to edit a message, but travel is a fantastic way to change this.
Travel is one of the best ways to develop great people skills. Meeting with people from all over the globe exposes you to different cultures, languages and ways of life, and forces you to interact with a diverse range of personalities. You quickly learn how to relate to others, to negotiate well, and interact with people of different backgrounds.
When presented with language barriers, you’re forced to pick up on body language, and rely on alternative methods like non verbal communication (charades is a great ice breaker!). Being misunderstood is incredibly easy if you aren’t careful, so you’re forced to become a better listener and a more careful communicator in all of your interactions.
And when put in situations that shock, impact and move you (like visiting a third world country), these experiences will often develop a level of sensitivity and compassion that’s hard to grasp without having witnessed something first hand. You develop a sense of empathy.
Teaches Time Management & Organization
Anyone who has ever traveled will tell you that the secret to getting the most out of a trip is an effective use of time. And while managing time while on vacation is something you may assume should come naturally, it actually takes an incredibly talented planner to maximize their time.
Think organizing multiple forms of transportation, making sure not to miss any of the city’s best attractions or exploring a whole country in a short amount of time. All of this involves careful calculation, good attention to detail, prioritization, an incredible amount of organization, and the ability to set goals.
You won’t be on the road for very long before you realize how critical time management skills are to travel.
Facilitates Cultural Awareness
There is no doubt that travel makes you more culturally aware and sensitive, and in an increasingly multicultural world, it’s important that people learn this when they’re young.
Those who travel have a greater appreciation of culture and respect for other races, backgrounds, opinions and thoughts, and quickly come to understand that “different” does not necessarily mean “wrong”. You develop a tolerance and open mindedness that the world needs a lot more of.
“Having an understanding of different cultural nuances and customs leads to broader knowledge of the how the world works, why cultures function the way they do, where political tendencies stem from”, and this type of knowledge is not something you’re able to learn in a classroom.
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