Bonjour friends. Today, I am remembering a post from one of my FB friends. She was at Buckingham palace in London, watching the changing of the guard. A young lady approached her and what was happening and if it was important. Apparently, the 20-something was unaware of the significance of this event. My FB friend took this opportunity to explain to the young lady what was happening and its importance. Yes, yes, this! Traveling families working to encourage young travelers! Win-win!
Folks, I was that 19-year-old gallivanting around London last year (ok, many, many years ago, but it seems like last year). I knew absolutely nothing. NOTHING! But, I was curious like this young lady. I asked questions, and more experienced people than me answered.
First, I was fortunate enough to have parents who knew that a semester in a foreign country would broaden my horizons. Thank you, Mom and Dad, you will never truly know the immense impact those five months had on the rest of my life. Secondly, I made the choice to live with locals rather than my friends. I cruised the classified ads and landed amazing flat-mates from Australia and New Zealand. They made it their personal mission to show me London, educate me on cultures and grow my love for travel. I have since lost touch with most of them, but, wherever they are, I want them to know they helped change the course of my life.
At the end of the day, I feel a personal responsibility to share the love of travel and help to encourage young travelers.
I am not alone in this quest. Many of my fellow travelers feel the same way. Of course, there will always be that handful of travelers who think they are better than others, because they know geography or cultures. The truth is that no matter how much you know, there is always someone who knows more. It is the wise person who recognizes this and sets out to learn more, not tout how much they know. That said, in general, most of the travel community is incredibly helpful. I am forever grateful for these travel communities, as I have been both the novice and the experienced traveler. I have been on both sides of the coin, so to speak. So, tell me, how do you help young travelers who are curious? Let’s face it, if they are out exploring the globe, they are already one step in the right direction. Today, I will share some ways that we try to encourage young travelers.
NEVER POKE FUN AT THEIR LACK OF GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE
If they are out traveling, then they are already curious about other cultures. They may not have had opportunities to travel with their families while growing up or to spend a semester abroad while in school, but they have a desire that we must encourage. Not everyone has the passion or drive to travel, and we encourage them in their pursuit. Some people may chide others, because they don’t know where Turkey is or that they think Hinduism is a food. If you encounter naïve, hungry-for-knowledge young travelers, help them. Enlighten them in a compassionate and non-condescending fashion.
SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED
If you have a young person asking the questions, then most definitely answer them. Take them under your wing, and encourage them to go out and seek the knowledge they so desperately crave, but lack. Recommend books, suggest websites, exchange contacts and take them to lunch, introduce them to WorldTowning. Invite them to your travel party, and share a meal, with intent that you will satisfy their curiosities about the traveling life. They don’t know what you know – but that is precisely why they have things to also share with you. You don’t know what they know. This should become a reciprocal relationship where you can each learn from one another.
INVITE THEM TO VISIT
Yes, invite those of curious minds into your home for more sharing. One more body is not going to break the bank, but the impact you will have on their love for travel will span their lifetime. It has been over 20 years since my first solo international experience in London. I am still grateful for the efforts my older flat-mates made to educate me about travel and cultures. When you invite these 20-somethings into your home in your host country, they will begin to see the possibilities of travel. Remember, they may have people at home who are not as encouraging about world travel. Show them that it is possible for them to live their dreams, and help support them emotionally.
BECOME THEIR MENTOR
Don’t be afraid to dedicate a couple of hours a week mentoring a curious mind. You can connect with them in person over coffee, via Skype, or using FaceTime. The options are endless with the plethora of technology we all have at our fingertips. Here’s a favorite quote of mine.
“Be the person you needed when you were younger.” ~ Ayesha A. Siddiqi.
Be the “travel” person your younger self needed for guidance. Explain to them that traveling is not always easy, but it is rewarding and that you are here to chat if they ever want to.
REMEMBER, THESE YOUNG TRAVELERS ARE OUR FUTURE
These 20-somethings will have a big influence on the world when most of us are hitting retirement. Let’s inspire them to think big, be the change, and go after what they want in life. Let’s encourage them to gain a global perspective that will bring peace, unity and love to the world at large.
There are a lot of negative comments written about this generation of 20-somethings. I have not seen anything negative in the 20-somethings with whom I have had contact. Most know what they want, are pretty darn secure and have an adventurous spirit. The world is at their fingertips, and most seem up to the challenge, but it is up to us to encourage, teach, guide and support them, so they can fulfill their potential.
Go 20-somethings!!! GO!!! GO!!! GO!!! See the world, and be the change we so desperately need. TRAVEL TILL YOU DROP!
Would you like to travel the world?
Are you a grandparent wondering how you can help?