Rebellion In Its Purest Form: Why Every College Student Should Travel

by Kristy Gustafson

When it comes to life as a recent college graduate, the one thing that lingers in the back of your mind more than anything — more than student loans, more than the regret of how much you drank and how little you slept during those final weeks of school, more than the shock of how old you feel and more than the amazement of how the hell you managed to do it all — is the ever-nagging, ever-maddening question, “What next?”

For some of us lucky ones, the answer to that question hasn’t changed from what we wrote down on our “About Me” handouts on our first day of grade school.

But, most of us experience the struggle of trying to find a rewarding career path doing what we love and maybe even making a difference along the way. (Perhaps, with flexible hours, free massages and yoga classes; with a wine bar and all-you-can-eat sushi. Okay, so maybe I’m getting just a little bit ahead of myself here, but you never know, right?)

Regardless of whether you know exactly what your next five years will look like or you barely even know what tomorrow holds, there’s one thing every college grad — current, past or future — should do: rebel. And by that, I mean travel.

“Travel is rebellion in its purest form.”

When I first heard this anonymous quote, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. “Rebellion: an act of violent or open resistance. See also: uprising, revolt, mutiny, unrest.”

"Yikes, that sounds a little too intense," I thought.

It was only when I looked past the negative connotations of the definition (and its aggressive synonyms) that I started to understand the real truth behind these words.

“Open resistance.” Now, that is something I might be able to get on board with.

I was doing some “rebellion” of my own around Southeast Asia when it all started to come together.

While gazing out the window as a new and foreign land passed right before my eyes, I thought of that very moment in the context of my journey.

And then, I thought about it in the greater context of my life, in all its post-grad glory. Suddenly, it made perfect sense.

Travel is rebellion in its purest form.

In other words, at the heart of travel is the courageous act of going against the norm, of choosing the road less traveled and owning every single bit of it.

It’s saying yes, letting go of expectations, judgments and obligations and instead doing what your heart and soul yearn for.

Travel is about being present and seeing the poetry in everything, from the highest peak of the Himalayas to a single drop of rain on the glass of your window-seat view.

It’s about recognizing how precious our time here is on Earth and choosing to live up every moment.

It’s tossing out the rulebook and making your own rules for a change.

It’s trusting your heart, going in completely blind and coming out on the other side with an unparalleled appreciation for this thing we call life.

Travel is about exploring unchartered paths, learning things you can’t pick up from a book, classroom or someone else’s tale and writing your own story — highs, lows and all — so that one day, you might inspire someone else to go out and do the same.

Travel is electrifying your senses and awakening the very depths of your soul, allowing it to guide you every step of the way.

They say travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, and I stand by that wholeheartedly.

It makes you richer in knowledge, experience, culture, adventure, empathy and character.

It dares you to step outside of your comfort zone and jump into the thrill of the unknown.

And, what better way to prepare for the rest of our lives than that?

This is the kind of rebellion to strive for, the sort of “open resistance” to implement in your own life.

Whether you’re a post-grad embarking on the real world, figuring out your next steps and refusing not to settle, or you're simply looking for one final hoorah before the upcoming chapter begins, I beg you to travel.

For, when all is said and done, there’s a certain beauty in reminiscing a world you once embarked on long ago like it was just yesterday; in remembering a time when wanderlust pumped through your veins and your most prized possessions were your passport, camera and journal; in knowing that through it all — and I mean all — you lived every moment with everything you could, and you can honestly say you had no regrets.