’Oh you just traveled for a year?’ is unfortunately a response lots of travellers get when telling their stories. It also keeps lots of people from doing so as ’it won’t look good on their CV’. It can be hard to explain that just traveling is never just traveling and that every place and person you come by changes you a little. It’s sad how there’s need to justify if you’re simply doing something you enjoy without it having a ‘higher’ purpose.
As much as I enjoy independent traveling, sometimes having a set structure or plan can actually help a lot when it comes to meeting people abroad or having a supportive background at home.
Here are some ideas of what reasons you can use as an excuse to travel in the future:
I guess that’s how it all started for me: when I was really young my mom sent me to language schools in England and by the time I was 14 I decided to go to move to Australia for a year and go to high school there. Studying abroad is probably one of the easiest ways to start your travels.
Spending time abroad while studying has become mandatory at many universities, most offer exchange programmes within a degree. Spending a semester abroad is probably one of the best opportunities to experience the local life style from first hand and built up a group of friends and an ’every day life’ in a different country. Check your university’s homepage for exchange programmes such a erasmus (Europe) or partner universities!
Apart from only spending a few months abroad, lots of people chose to complete their whole studies in a different country than their own. I’m from Germany, but I recently moved to London to study television. It may seem like a little more effort in terms of organisation and can be more expensive than studying at home, but don’t let that discourage you from researching the topic! Make sure to start looking for suitable courses as early as possible, as universities in different countries have different deadlines for applications. It’s a lot of work in the beginning, but I ended up having a set plan for university in terms of offer, accommodation, flights, etc almost half a year before my German friends could even apply for studying at home!
If you don’t go to university (yet), there are still lots of options to combine studying with traveling: After I graduated I did a short course at university in Cape Town, South Africa. I knew that my parents would have rather seen me going to uni straight after graduating from hight school than taking a year off, but that was never an option for me. Doing a short course was the perfect compromise and helped me later on when applying for uni. Most universities offer short courses, which are usually 8- 10 weeks long, and they are a great opportunity to not only learn more about what you love but also choose very freely where you want to go for your course and traveling afterwards. Spending about two months abroad will give you plenty of time to explore the area and will help you come up with a plan of where you want to go to after you completed your course. The same goes with internships abroad, it’s an exciting opportunity to dip into every day life wherever and whenever you want to!
Short film produced while doing a short course in Cape Town/ South Africa
There are not many things that can bring people together like sports: no matter if it’s supporting your local team on Saturday evenings in the pub or if you’re part of a sports team yourself. Apart from spending time with people that share the same interests as you do, sports can also give you some amazing opportunities to travel. If you’re fan of a certain club, why not use their next match in a different city or country to make it your next destination? You’ll surely find a group of people willing to join you and even if not, cheering for the same team will make you bond with people quicker than anything else.
Being an athlete yourself can also be a great reason to travel more. Through surf- lifesaving I got to go to lots of different places and meet other lifeguards from all over the world. When I was younger I managed to compete for my state team on international competitions and also got me to go to world championships in France and the Netherlands. Once you make the first step, traveling through your sport gets a lot easier: I don’t compete regularly anymore, but via various competitions I made lots of friends who I can visit to train, compete or simply travel with. It’s definitely worth checking out clubs in places you want to go to and simply send them an email- they’re usually more than happy to welcome someone from a foreign country who is interested in what they’re doing.
If you enjoy music ( who doesn’t) and don’t want to spend several weeks or months abroad, this could be a great option for you. There are festivals for everyone’s taste, no matter which music genre you enjoy. In terms of accommodation it’s probably best to travel with someone to share a tent/ food with, but other than that, festivals are probably one of the best places to meet people. I’ve been to Rocking the Daisies and Ultra (both in South Africa) and I feel like no matter which festival you go to or which language you speak, as soon as the music starts everyone just enjoys themselves and has a good time. What more could you ask for?!
Here are some you might want to check out: Exit (Serbia), Sziget (Hungary), Ultra (worldwide), Glastonbury (UK), Southside/ Chiemsee Summer/ Rock Im Park (Germany), Untold (Romania), Primavera Sound (Spain) ..the list is long, and that’s just music festivals! It’s definitely worth looking into other events as well if you’re planning your next city trip!
I must say, I’m always a little weary when it comes to volunteering with organisations that provide the partner, accommodation and ’programme’ abroad. It is a great opportunity to do something you’re passionate about, learn from local people but also help them with your knowledge. At the same time, I do not understand programme fees starting usually from $500. I totally understand paying for accommodation, food and any extra activities, but I do not see the point in paying a huge amount of money to a company that will help me ’organise’ my trip. Again, this might be a little more intense in terms of time and effort, but I’d recommend researching and contacting local organisations that you’d like to work with yourself! Also, I really dislike the thought of being a ’saviour’ to local people or the place you’re working at, which is a vibe I often get from volunteers. Despite all these little things you should keep in mind when considering volunteering, it’s a great way of getting to know a place and challenging yourself a little, because in the end it should also be the volunteer who is learning something new.
read more on exploration-online.com