There is really no good reason why you can’t or shouldn’t travel during college. Here is why all the reasons you’ve been tallying up in your head are actually just excuses for bone-deep laziness.
It’s incredibly annoying when people say things like, “If you really want it, you’ll make time for it.” That’s a foolish, smug statement; sometimes you really just don’t have the time. But for what it’s worth you still have more time in college than you’ll have once you start work. The galling bit is that in tons of countries you don’t even have to ‘make’ time. Kids take off for an entire glorious year to do whatever the hell they fancy and nobody has a nervous breakdown. Unfortunately the Indian Education System throws a fit at the mention of ‘Gap Year’, so you’ll just have to get creative and try to squeeze in travel in the middle of semester. Unless of course, you have attendance issues because you’ve missed every morning class in Applied Economics 101 and you’re facing a dreaded year back, which means another whole year of missing morning class. Well then go during college fests when the idiot admin won’t give you attendance anyway.
If you can’t manage that, take off in the holidays. Normally, you’d make a mad scramble for home in order to collapse in your bed and vegetate. During Semester Break you follow an uncomplicated agenda: sleep in ac, eat decent food that doesn’t have things crawling in it and watch tv. You announce to anyone who’re interested (which is usually just your mom) that you don’t want to meet any relatives, you don’t want to get dressed and go to annoying social gatherings and for the love of god can you please be left alone! But if you travel you’ll be a lot happier and your family will be happy to have you out of their hair for a bit.
A lot of travel services have a highly elastic pricing policy, which means that they look you up and down and then decide how much they want to charge you. So when you turn up looking like a penury-stricken, acne-ridden, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed person like yourself, they don’t pin too many hopes on you. Which is great because you’re more likely to get a discount than say, someone who looks employed and well fed.
Group travel is also great because you get to go dutch! That way you split the big chunk of your daily expenses like cab fares, room tariff, bike/car rental. You can even share costs on more-than-one-person-rentals like canoes, tonga rides etc. and in extreme cases food and water.
Costs also spiral downward if you go at the right time- which must be the wrong time for everybody else. During off-season popular tourist destinations are absolutely dirt-cheap and you can score great deals. It means you’ll probably end up shivering in a draughty hostel room while it snows a blizzard outside but if that’s the only way you ever get to be in Paris, so be it.
Old fogeys have been saying it till they’re blue in the face and it bears repetition only because it’s true every single time. You really are living the Good ‘ol Days right now. It might not look like it but in a lot of ways things don’t get better than this. And what’s more, you’re living this time with the people you want to be living it with. This brief glorious time is when you and your friend(s) are literally and figuratively jobless, bounding with indecent energy and dead serious about getting up to no good. Fast forward a few years and you’ll be lucky to have an actual conversation with the human being you were stuck at the hip with for a few odd years.
Once you step into the real world you’ll be surprised at how many humans there are you can’t stand. You never really appreciated how incredibly lucky you were to meet your gang so it comes as a bit of a shock that you can barely find people you can tolerate. Who “get” you. Who will put up with your sometimes-revolting habits, spells of pouting, passive-aggressive tendencies and occasional racist/sexist comments.
International volunteer programs let you travel the world and you literally don’t have to spend a penny. Lots of organizations encourage and pay for undergraduates who want to volunteer for their social outreach/housing/healthcare programs. This is true travel- you get to live and work with a mix of nationalities, understand local cultures, talk without words and create something valuable. When you’re affiliated with an organization, it’s easier to snag visas to countries that will coldly turn you down once you are single and working.
Also, it’s a lot easier to convince your parents when you’re going with a credible organization rather than with a bunch of shifty-looking friends. The folks won’t frown on you quite as much and hopefully you’ll be spared this embarrassing situation:
Travel nourishes your soul, expands your worldview and broadens your horizons. Plus, it looks great on your CV! Movies like Walter Mitty only help your cause so you can confidently chalk up travel expenses as an investment in your future. Nowhere else will you get serious survival skills, life experience and personal insight by the bushel. Travel tests your strengths and weaknesses, so that when you are asked to answer those darn HR questions during college placement, you’ll actually have something real to write about that wasn’t thrown up last night in a frantic Google search. (Side Note: As inspiring as your travel tales might be, it’s recommended you stick with the Google answer. You can jot down your newfound personal insight in your daily journal.)
Unless you’re crippled by social anxiety or have a particularly disturbing vibe about you, it’s a statistical guarantee that you’ll make a bunch of friends on your travels. Multi-ethnic, multi- racial, multi-lingual- your Facebook friend list will look like an exotic rainbow with names you’ll struggle to pronounce. Travel is the quickest, fun-est way to meet loads of interesting people and make new friends. How great would it be to have a couch to crash on in every part of the world? And till the time you build your little black book of couches to crash on, you can use this world digest; it’s free.
Your personal stock will zoom up several points higher if you travel. But play it cool.
And don’t go dumping the entire contents of your camera memory card on Facebook. It just clogs everyone’s newsfeed artery and puts everybody off.
It has literally never been easier for young people to travel, actually, for any people to travel. There has never been a time in history when earth has been so obsessively probed and mapped and archived. The vast expanse of thrilling adventure and unknown territory that it once used to be is now neatly divided into grids and squares and blocks, packaged into Quick Facts and Things To Do and sold in the guidebook section of your local supermarket. The only upshot of this incredibly depressing reality is that you’re not likely to get lost and stranded on an island. Technology has made travel and tracking and tracing much easier and your anxious parents can locate your sorry ass anytime you try to fall off the grid; this might sound annoying but it actually bumps the scales in your favour when you’re negotiating a solo vacation with the folks.
Misc. Special Privileges.
Young people are given special benefits everywhere, just for the obnoxious achievement of being young. Which can turn your 26th birthday into a mighty depressing event. Student status gets you whopping discounts on all kinds of public transport, lower ticket prices for museums, galleries and tourist attractions. Heck, you get dirt-cheap accommodation in the most expensive cities in the world! You entitled little shit.
No category of human species is more tolerant of poor hygiene than the college student, which makes this class ideally suited to travel. Often you have to squat in fields or over holes in the ground, answer nature’s call in highway gas station toilets- which could make anybody else pass out from acute olfactory trauma- and bunk on beds you normally wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. But none of this matters to you because you’re right at home in low-hygiene conditions. Be warned though, this super power comes with an expiration date. The end of your college life will also mark the mysterious end of your ironclad ability to stomach icky. You can deny it all you want and swear life-long allegiance to the cause of dirtiness, but as surely as earth revolves around the sun, at some point in the future you will turn into that person who shudders at the thought of funny smelling bed sheets, greasy menu cards and leaky faucets. It’s basic evolution.
So don’t fritter away your glorious youth, your stomach for squalor and general sickly appearance. Make sure your I’m-Home-For-The-SemesterBreak-Agenda reads something like this:
Stick head up my Ass. Cluck like a Chicken.
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