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“Head out on the highway, looking for adventure…” – so Steppenwolf crooned, evoking the words of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and images from the film classic Easy Rider. Whether you choose to reach your destination via plane, train, coach, boat or the back of a camel, it will ultimately be a voyage of self-discovery you are embarking upon.
Young adults in the Victorian era used to be recommended extended trips to the seaside to cure their ills. Doctors were under the impression that the salt water and sea airs boosted health. Nowadays, the ailments may have changed – think less consumption and smallpox, more My Chemical Romance and ennui derived from materialistic over-consumption. Similarly, centuries ago, young people were advised to go on “The Grand Tour”, considered a rite of passage made more accessible by advances in public transport. These advances have been, of course, further improved upon, making travelling easier and more attractive for youngsters who may be unsure of their way.
Those at the tricky adolescent age (or slightly above) may be unsure of their purpose in life. Experiencing what the world has to offer may help a person realise their potential. Are you reading this and nodding, thinking you fall into this category of uncertainty? Then it’s time to start researching and saving money. Although it may be tempting to stick a pin in a map and run off, taking a little time to get to know the basics of the language, laws and customs will put you in the good books of the people you meet and therefore help to shape the story of your life.
Where Do You Want to Go Today?
It doesn’t take a degree in Anthropology to realise that childhoods are getting shorter. The age that we want to become men and women of the world is drastically decreasing, whereas information about travel and leisure activities is on the increase due to technology and general globalisation. Travelling in one’s youth should be encouraged before being tied down with mortgages and children of one’s own! France is a magnifique place to start, with profound cultural landmarks, beautiful contrast in countryside and cityscapes, a language that is one of the six official ones of the UN, and eight countries on its border to tempt you towards further exploration.
The Je Ne Sais Pas of Travelling – Be Prepared
The common consensus is that the best way of getting to grips with a foreign language is to chat to the locals and immerse oneself in the culture. Jumping into the pool of parlance at the deep end can, however, seem a daunting objective. French courses in France, or the appropriate language for wherever your itchy feet yearn to take you, can offer valuable aid whatever your current level of learning in the lingo. Pocket dictionaries offer only limited space, and you don’t want to add unnecessarily to an already bulging backpack by lugging around heavier tomes. Translation websites can be seemingly useful, but not always easily accessible and can often yield erroneous results too.
Making an effort to learn at least the very basics of the language spoken in the country you are visiting will endear you to its inhabitants and may help employment prospects should you wish to do a little work to fund your travels.
Vitality of Youth and Its Joie de Vivre
Some choose to save travel for retirement age. At the risk of sounding ‘ageist’, the truth is that young adults possess more energy, more curious natures and a greater capacity for learning, which can be very handy should your aim be to:
- Study French in France
- Safari in South Africa
- Talk Japanese in Tokyo
- Hike in the Himalayas
The opportunities are endless… until you’ve discovered every last square inch of the world, which may take you longer than a gap year to complete. In considering our interactions with the world, we can learn more about ourselves. Think of it as a form of cheap, pleasurable therapy. It is not unheard of to up sticks as a result of shocking or distressing news. Removing ourselves for a while can help put things in perspective, but this also applies to happy-go-lucky, carefree teenagers and young adults who simply wish to broaden their horizons.
Karen McDermott Profile
Karen McDermott is a graduate of English, Media and Cultural Studies from Canterbury, UK, with a passion for writing and travel. When not working on her first novel she writes articles for her blog and for clients.
Take trips, not chances. For peace of mind each and every time you travel, enroll for MedjetAssist evacuation services. If you’re planning a trip to France (or anywhere else for that matter), you can reserve your hotel here. To rent a car, Bonjour Paris recommends Auto Europe.