Photo: Dongjiao Wang.
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It’s sad when I hear about friends in their 20s who have never left Canada. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see why.

In the today’s political climate, the media tends to deter young minds from traveling by focusing on terrorism and other dangers worldwide, However, the risk for travellers is practically non-existent. The actual chance of dying in an airplane is 1 in 8,450,000, with death by a terrorist attack even more unlikely with a 1 in 9,270,000 chance.

Others are detered by financial barriers, which can be mitigated by strategies like working overseas, collecting travel miles, and various other cost cutting methods.


Recent health panics like that of the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak have similarly scared a lot of potential travelors off, even though a simple trip to online resources like ones offered by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention can give you a heads up on what to expect in terms of international health risks.

So, despite all these alleged barriers, you should really give international traveling a shot, especially since the experiences that follow are rife with opportunities to better yourself as a person and ensure well-rounded psychological development.

Becoming more independent

While your parents could help you get a passport, give you money, and even plan your travel destinations, it’s you who will ultimately be on the other side of the world alone (or with a couple friends). And this  guarantees a certain level of independence.

You can research prices of meals and hotels, but the real cost of a trip—especially when you’re stuck in a country where practically nobody speaks English—is something only you will discover once you take the plunge.

This element of fending for yourself will definitely come in handy later on life, especially when you have to prepare for the biggest leap of all—life after graduation.

Becoming more empathetic

Underrated travel destinations like South Korea, Croatia, or Portugal can teach you a lot about the everyday struggles of common folk.

I taught English for a year in a South Korean village, thriving on the nearby nuclear plant and rice fields. Most of the people worked six to seven days a week, with some receiving no more than a day off every two weeks. What used to seem unimaginable to me, helped me create a newfound empathy and appreciation for the country’s persistent hard work (unsurprisingly, South Korea is constantly nabbing the top spot in “hardest-working countries” lists).

Furthermore, when we travel, we meet people from all corners of the world which opens us up to different cultures and points of view. I once served as an unofficial translator for three (French, Spanish, and Arabic) girls in my hostel room in Sydney, Australia. We all got along terrifically and as a result, formed lasting friendships.

Becoming less of a cliche

A lot of Canadians are content with staying close to home.

According to StatsCan, even when we do travel the top countries visited by Canadians (United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, France) are close in terms of geography, culture, and language. 

There is nothing wrong with visiting these places, but real travel, in my opinion, involves a plane and a country that doesn’t necessarily use English as their primary language.

So, by undertaking a journey to another continent, you’re not only opening yourself up to other experiences, but you’re also actively challenging the assumption that Canadians are all boring homebodies.

Becoming more successful

Some experts even believe that travel can translate to greater academic success somewhere down the road.

A recent study by the Wagner group found that adults who took trips in their youth have better grades that those who didn’t, with 80 per cent of the respondents saying travel made them more interested in what they learned at school.

Furthermore, people who take time off are more productive, have higher morale and are less likely to mentally “check out” on the job. They also report less stress and have less of a chance of burning out.