When I told my friends I was going to Madagascar for two months, most of them did a double take. “Not South-East Asia or South America?” They asked inquisitively. “Why would you even want to go there?”
It’s a fair question. Everybody I know who did a gap year, pre or post uni, did the same blocks of countries. They all enthusiastically and collectively told me that they had the best times of their lives! If the gap year experience ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That was the basic message. So, why should you go to a country that nobody else does? Here are my 2 cents on that issue, and 5 reasons to do exactly that!
- You’ll learn something about yourself
In my humble opinion, this is just about one of the best reasons to do anything difficult or radical in your life. Of course, ‘learning something about yourself’ is a little vague, so let me just clarify what I mean.
Going to a country that nobody else does will prove to yourself that you have spirit! The courage to step into the unknown and challenge yourself. If you haven’t ever done that before, you won’t know just how important to your personal growth such an experience can be.
Moreover, everybody I knew kept saying that they respected me for travelling alone to Madagascar and that gave me a sense of pride that I was doing something a lot of other people wouldn’t. For a kid who grew up with below average self-respect, that was invaluable to me.
All in all, I believe this is a worthy reason in itself to travel into the unknown!
- Have experiences that set you apart
I really don’t want to get anyone down on going to places everybody goes to, and having experiences that everybody wants to have. I can’t overstate that enough. These places and experiences are popular for great reasons.
I’m certainly hoping to go to Thailand, Brazil, and everywhere else with heavy footfall. I’m just advocating another way to travel! I’m advocating experiencing that which everybody else you know hasn’t. I didn’t feel like a real traveler until I had a handful of experiences that I felt were totally and utterly unique to me, in places, and doing things, that nobody I knew had done.
Don’t you want to have the odd story you can tell, or write down, that makes your friends yearn to do the same? To follow the path you have blazed? Or maybe just to ask you question after question so that your adventures will live long in the memory?
Begin laying down the tracks instead of following them!
- Explore the unknown
Do you get that feeling, when you learn or discover something new, of unadulterated glee?
For me that feeling dawned on me in Madagascar when I saw my first sportive lemur, sat in the crook of a tree. Wide eyed and inquisitive, he stirred in the branches as we neared.
I had no idea exactly which unique and endemic species I was likely to see on the island, and I was utterly taken aback by the little ball of fluff staring down at me. In that moment, as I saw a species that was completely new to me, and one which nobody I knew had ever seen in the wild, I was overcome by pure joy!
That feeling of discovery, of revelation, is wonderful. Going to a country to which nobody else travels will offer you that in spades!
- The price
I just can’t get away from being a thrifty traveler, so here comes a money saving tip! The country nobody goes to is just that, the country nobody else goes to.
More often than not, that means that prices on goods and experiences haven’t been inflated to drain the pockets of wealthy tourists. Not to be too crude but you can take advantage of that. If the local economy is going to offer you great affordable prices, then you can travel for longer and do more than the people who are flocking to tourist traps!
Particularly when you are young, and perhaps a student as I am, that is a really important consideration to take into account. I know I certainly do!
- All travel is great
Okay so this last point is going to do away with trying to convince you to travel into the unknown. Instead, it’s just going to try and convince you to travel, because travel is undeniably awesome.
Meeting new friends, trying new foods, experiencing new cultures, discovering new animals, discovering new places, learning new lessons, about yourself and the world, and generally becoming a better-rounded person are all fantastic reasons to travel.
If you need another one reason though, just one, it’s because you’ve read this far into my post, almost nine hundred words into it. That means you’re considering travelling and, if you’re on the fence, you need to take that plunge!