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Why Young Americans Should Travel Abroad

One of the most valuable experiences a young person can have is to travel abroad.

It opens the eyes—and minds, teaching valuable lessons and skills that last a lifetime. While traveling to a different country can be initially intimidating for both parent and child, the rewards are definitely worthwhile.

A travel abroad experience teaches young Americans just how fortunate they are.

Especially if they travel outside of Europe’s capital cities—or to places like Africa, South America or Eastern Europe.

So much of the world does not have the standard of living Americans enjoy. In fact, much of the world does not have access to clean drinking water, reliable power or guaranteed education.

Whether it's experiencing the cultural differences of Europe or the stark realities of a developing country, there is much to see and learn — and it puts complaining about Calculus homework in a whole new perspective.

Travel teaches flexibility and adaptability.

Learning to “go with the flow” sounds like a bumper sticker cliché, but travel teaches young adults to be flexible, to adapt to changing or difficult situations, and how to work through challenges, wherever they may occur.

If you have ever traveled by train across Europe or navigated a faraway land in a foreign language with an unfamiliar culture and little assistance, everyday challenges back at home can seem a bit less daunting.

Travel teaches cultural awareness, sensitivity, and understanding.

Meeting locals is an invaluable experience, especially meeting “everyday” people—not just those who work in airports, hotels, and restaurants.

Some of the most memorable travel experiences are those that occur when two people from completely different backgrounds just talk to each other—whether it be about school, music or something else they have in common.

Travel provides the perfect opportunity to use those hard-won second language skills.

Learned a foreign language in school? Try it out.

The locals will be appreciative and it’s fun too. But even if you don’t speak the language, it can be rewarding to find ways to communicate with others—from charades to Google Translate or phrasebooks, creativity works wonders.

It's amazing what a smile can do….

International travel does not have to be prohibitively expensive.

With airline specials, clean and safe hostels, and budget hotels located around the world, there are many affordable options. Websites abound with information to get started.

There are also great opportunities like study-abroad and exchange programs, service programs with major international charities, and even escorted tours for students and athletes— all offering young Americans a chance to experience the world.

Help a young person get bitten by the travel bug. It is the best gift you can ever give them.