The Millennials Who Want to See the World

PHOTO: Adam Shepard in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, October 2011.
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For some Millennials, like Adam Shepard, 30, from Raleigh, N.C., living abroad was an experience he desperately needed in these profoundly changing times.

Shepard is no stranger to adventure.

In 2006 he moved to Charleston, S.C., with just $25 in his pocket and emerged 10 months later having achieved some semblance of the 'American Dream.'

This time around, he wanted to experience the places beyond America's borders, not just click through pictures of someone else's adventure on a computer screen.

"There were people that I would tell about this trip, and they didn't think it was a terrible idea, but they weren't as supportive as I thought they would be," Shepard told ABC News. "But my parents always encouraged us to get outside and try different things, and that is important," Shepard said.

So, working at speaking engagements and as a bartender, Shepard over two years saved up $19,420.68. Starting Oct. 1, 2011, he spent 363 days traveling across 17 countries on four continents.

While his journey had moments of relaxation on a beach in the Philippines, or bull fighting in Nicaragua, Shepard also spent two months with Honduras Child Alliance, digging wells for clean water access. The vast majority – some 80 percent – of their volunteers are between the ages of 22 and 30 years old, hailing from all over the world.

"Not only does it empower our projects to have these volunteers from everywhere, but they walk away with a sense of community," Eve Horowitz, executive director of the Honduras Child Alliance, told ABC News. "In the states, if you want to get together with a friend, you text or Facebook message them, but here, you knock on their door."

The Millennial generation has also been hailed as a civic-minded, socially conscious generation, volunteering in record numbers.

Often a requirement of graduation, volunteer rates for ages 16-24 nearly doubled from 12.3 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2005, according to the Corporation for National Community Service. In "Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics," co-authors Morley Winograd and Michael Hais claim that people born between 1982 and 2000 are the most civic-minded since the Silent generation of the 1930s and 1940s.

Currently, most Peace Corps volunteers are Millennials, with 84 percent ages 18-29.

More than 8,000 Americans serve overseas through Peace Corps service, working on projects related to agriculture, community economic development, education, and health and youth development. Don't skip out on college though, 90 percent of volunteer positions require a bachelor's degree.

"Peace Corps service is a great way for Americans to apply what they learned in the classroom or workplace in a non-traditional environment," Erin Durney, public affairs specialist for Peace Corps, told ABC News. "Volunteers have the same passion to make a difference today as they did when the agency was started in 1961, but these volunteers have the innovation, flexibility, and now the technology to solve 21st century problems at the grassroots level."

And Millennial travel is only growing.

By 2020, Millennials will comprise more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and will have a major impact on the $855 billion U.S. travel and tourism industry.

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