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Why You Should Travel While You’re Young

July 10, 2024 Sarah Bichsel No Comments

ACIS was founded with the mission of introducing young people to the world, and the majority of our travelers are middle and high school students. After 40 plus years of leading groups abroad, why exactly do we continue to prioritize travel experiences for this age group? Here are six key reasons why we think travel changes lives at an early age – and why you should explore the world when you are young!

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1. Building Confidence and Independence

For many young travelers, an experience abroad is the first time they have been away from home for an extended period of time. While that can seem daunting, the opportunities for growth are limitless. It’s an opportunity to tackle big firsts, such as navigating new customs, foods and transit systems. With time to explore a new city on their own, students can get a taste of independence. High school students often find the increased independence provides a nice transition to college life, a glimpse of things to come in the near future that excites and inspires.

And speaking of future opportunities, traveling opens up the world of career possibilities. Getting to travel at a young age reminds you that there are so many ways to make a living, so many options for pursuing interests, from study abroad to overseas business development, foreign language translation to art curation. When you have that perspective at a young age, it breaks open the confines of what your future can look like, and keeps you from feeling like there is a one-size-fits-all path forward.

“Just like going away to college for the first time, traveling to a foreign country exposes you to a whole new world of experiences. New people, foods, customs, rules, and the chance to explore something beyond your current realm are things you’d encounter while traveling or attending college. – ACIS Participant Lauren Pehnke

2. Early Language Learning

If you want to learn a second language, the younger you are, the better! A recent survey of more than 600,000 online participants conducted by Boston-based universities concluded that “children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18.” While the data provides more time than the previously accepted estimate of 8 years old, it still shows that there is a limited window for getting the most of a second language! Going abroad and studying language during this critical development period could be the final piece needed for fluency and at the very least is known to inspire excitement to continue studying.

Travel has broader learning benefits too. Getting to travel to a destination where the language is spoken helps immerse you in a way that you won’t find through apps and textbooks. Experiencing daily interactions teaches you more casual expressions and at the same time introduces you to the cultural aspects that infuse a shared language. And as mentioned before, discovering how you can apply your language skills to future career opportunities is key information to have at a younger age.

67% of ACIS Travelers surveyed continued to study a foreign language in college

3. The World is Your Classroom

With so much time committed to school for younger adults, why not take the opportunity to experience those critical school subjects in a dynamic way? On an educational tour, you’ll see iconic sites, from the Parthenon to the Pantheon, and get expert commentary from local guides.

Travel is more than seeing monuments, though; you will have the chance to picture yourself in a thousand different eras and gain a better understanding of the people who came to a place before you. It puts history in a completely different perspective, taking it out of a hardbound textbook and into everyday life.

81% of those that traveled in middle school or high school went on to pursue a college degree, compared to the national average of 70% in 2016. – The National Center for Education Statistics

4. Make Friends for a Lifetime

World travel connects you with different backgrounds and cultures. You never know who you will meet on the road who will ultimately become a lifelong friend or even just a friendly face you can reach out to if you’re traveling in the area later. Take this meetup between an ACIS Group Leader and her former Tour Manager or another traveler’s return to their host family as great examples of the deep friendships that come from exploring new places.

And sometimes the friends you meet have been right in your own backyard all along! We have seen so many students return from travel and talk about the friendships they’ve formed with classmates they hadn’t talked to before the trip. Take these 2023 ACIS travelers as a prime example of what happens when you go through a travel experience with your peers.

It was one of the best experiences of my life spending a week abroad in Europe with my friends. It gave me a sense of independence and helped make new bonds and friendships.

-Yasmin Shahkarami, ACIS Participant

5. Invest in Yourself, Not Stuff

Gen-Z and Millennial travelers have shaken up historical economic precedents through one key phrase: “experiences over things.” We have to admit: We’re big fans of this approach! Investing in travel at a young age is an investment in so much more than a physical plane ticket. You get the emotional and social growth, language skills, career opportunities and new knowledge of the world around you all included. There is immense value in building yourself through experiences like travel, and you can still bring home the souvenirs to have a physical reminder of your time away.

94% of ACIS participants surveyed felt more independent after their trip and 92% noted improvement in their interpersonal skills.

6. Travel Now to Avoid Regret Later

If you have the chance to travel at a young age, seize it! You may have the chance to travel again in later years, but there is always the chance you may not. Many people push travel to the backburner as a retirement activity, something that you get to do later in life. But life so often gets in the way. Time, money, and physical health can all be an obstacle in later years, and the plans you made to see the world may have to be changed. Our best advice is to get out there and see the world while you know you can make the most of it!

Whether you are a young student or thinking about leading a group of young people abroad, these are just a handful of reasons to encourage you to see the travel process through, and with us, you’ll experience the best in educational travel. Offering the most value through centrally-located hotels, authentic meals, top-rated tour managers and culturally immersive activities, ACIS is the travel partner you’ve been waiting for. Get started by giving us a call or download our 101 guide to planning an educational tour below.

Sarah Bichsel

Sarah Bichsel

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