If you have a high school or college student, chances are good that you are both inundated with reminders to "expand horizons" and "dream big!" We teach our young adults that "it's a big world out there…" but do we really prepare them for just how BIG it can be?

Thanks to social media, an expansive internet, and even adventurous television programming, our kids are exposed to international influences that we never had access to. What's the best way to bridge the gap between our worldly advice and their worldly view? Give them a suitcase and passport and send 'em packing! Here are five reasons to encourage our kids to travel.

1. Travel Encourages Independence

From the early days of summer camp to extended exchange programs, being away from home allows kids to begin to establish independence. Learning to manage their schedule, eat regular meals, and (maybe) do their own laundry prepares them for the time when Mom and Dad are no longer managing their every move.

2. Travel Introduces Diversity

Despite regular exposure to international media influences, some teens simply don't experience diversity in their everyday lives. Opportunities run the gamut from ethnic differences to religious views to financial status. There is no greater way to introduce teens to a new culture than to allow them the experience of living in it.

3. Travel Adds to a College Application

As college entrance becomes more and more competitive, students are challenged with making their college application stand out. International travel experiences and exchange programs may give students an edge over other applicants. For examples of potential exchange opportunities, check out Broadening Minds Beyond Borders.

4. Travel Builds Relationships

Traveling as a student fosters new friendships that can last a lifetime. Thanks to social media, email, and Skype, these relationships can endure despite global time differences. Building a relationship with someone across the world allows for ongoing enrichment.

5. Travel Expands Horizons

A combination of all of the above creates a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students — the chance to broaden their life experiences. Enjoying a new culture, building relationships, learning a new language, and even trying new foods will encourage students to seek out new experiences and learning opportunities.

Bon voyage!