I just read the most ridiculous article! “Here’s why you shouldn’t travel in your 20s” and now I’m all riled up. Part of my blogging job is to network and comment on other blogs in hopes others will come and comment or share my blog posts. So, this article immediately caught my attention today and I quickly skimmed it to find the “zinger” at the end that said
“Just kidding, go travel right now.”
But IT WASN’T THERE. So then I had to go back and read the whole article and see what choices I wrongly made in my 20s. Fascinating! I want to hang out with this blogger. Actually, I think she is quite clever to take such a controversial view on a hot topic. Christina has a beautiful blog, by the way. I began to state my argument in the comments then I realized I would never cover everything in a comment so I came over here to my corner where I can preach into the ether. So here you go: 8 Reasons to Travel in your 20s; a rebuttal to the blog post “Why you shouldn’t travel in your 20s”.
8 Reasons to Travel in Your 20s
1. Traveling when your young will open your mind to ways of thinking and seeing the world that you would never have imagined.
Up until our 20s our lives are dictated by others. There’s school trends, church rules, doing what our parents say, following the instructions of our teachers and listening every day to their opinions, pressure from our friends, school rules, it’s endless. We’re always under someone else’s authority. Our world is a limited circle around our community. When you go out into the world, somewhere unfamiliar and on your own, suddenly you have no one else telling you what to think or what opinion you should have. You SEE the world for yourself.
Talk to the locals, volunteer in new areas, explore, ask, taste, form your own opinion. DO remember that your experience is just your own, it’s not actually how the world runs. Just this month I met a woman who ADORES India and I enjoy hearing her experience of India because I pretty much hated my entire 14 days in India. I was sick enough that I was hallucinating, I was miserable, and too many people tried to rip me off. India is where I mentally finished traveling but I continued on for another 2 years to finish my goal of seeing all 7 continents. I don’t warn people to not go to India because of what happened to me, it’s a story to add to all the other stories.
2. You will learn resourcefulness in the school of hard knocks at an accelerated pace.
Travel is a total boost in confidence. You WILL learn to say NO, you will learn to read who is dishonest. You will learn that the world is unfair and full of struggle and that people are amazing and generous. At every challenge you will find a way through it and as you do you will learn just what you are capable of. You are capable of withstanding SO much hardship. Like when the 8 hour bus ride turns into a 24 hour trip and your period surprises you on gridlocked road and you use an empty covered truck to sort yourself out…that might totally happen to you.
You are capable of great things, of creativity, of problem solving, of negotiation, of navigating, of communication. You might as well learn that about yourself as soon as possible so you can apply your learned skills to the rest of your life. Reading, classroom time, and watching movies will never compare to first hand experience.
3. Do it NOW before you are tied down.
You have the rest of your life to be responsible and pay your dues. The longer you wait the more “things” you will acquire and the more bills you will collect and soon there will be a house and a car and maybe kids and maybe a spouse who doesn’t share your thirst for travel.
Right now, in this moment, you are FREE. Personally, I recommend traveling before college expenses and debts pull you down. If you have waited till after you graduated college…I don’t know what advice to give you. I guess you will have to save up more money to also pay for the college debts. I don’t know. BUT it’s still possible.
4. When you are young your body can take more abuse, you can sleep on floors, you can skip meals, you can recover from food poisoning, etc. Resilient health will save you money
In my younger years I worked HARD. I could take the fatigue, my muscles built fast, my body recovered quicker. I was so tough. I was more optimistic so it was easier to see the bright side in tough situations. I could carry a heavy pack. I miss those days. Now I am pudgy and I struggle to open food packaging by myself. Now that I am old I have learned what comfort is, my priorities have changed, I have been spoiled. When you are young your body is at it’s prime, ready to assist you in your big dreams. I learned to sleep on trains, on cobblestone, on concrete floors. Being able to sleep anywhere is a true traveler skill to acquire.
I ate less to fit my budget – n0t recommended but I did it. I was capable of working physically demanding jobs, I was fit, I was strong. When you are young your body is a valuable resource towards helping you achieve your goals. Now I have meds to take. Age is a hindrance – NOT impossible – I’ve met plenty of wiley retired travelers BUT you never know how your health might deteriorate in the future.
5. Your determination will get you through the odd jobs you need to fund your trip
One of the disadvantages of traveling young is finding the money to do it. Don’t let money be the excuse that holds you back. Work harder and don’t spend any for awhile. As a young traveler you will not be staying at bed and breakfasts and beach resorts. Sleep on the beach instead. It’s usually legal -like Kauai’i and Tahiti, for example. There are lots of ways to solve the issue of money. When you are young living with your parents is a HUGE money saver and is not as awkward.
With a strong body to support you you can shoulder into that next available job, that job that will pay for the next leg of your journey. You don’t have to have all the money in your bank account to travel. Really, all you need is the money for the plane ticket, and perhaps the return ticket depending on the requirements of the country you are entering (research that before you fly on a one way ticket) BUT you have to be willing to work. The jobs that are available to transients are low pay and hard labor. I scooped ice cream, worked construction, did gardening, picked apples, cleaned hotel rooms, sold my art for cheap, all as ways to fund my travels WHILE I was traveling. You can do it. You can make it. YOU can find a way. That’s that resilience I was talking about.
The present me? I can’t imagine going from a salaried job back to less than minimum wage. Now that I am old, my time is more precious to me than $5. My new outlook limits my abilities to drop everything and travel…well, my husband and I DID just sell all our belongings and are now living off our savings in Germany. I don’t think I would be able to travel on the low budget that I did when I was young.
6. You will be collecting memories that will never expire
I think my memories are my most valuable possession. They are my ego boost, they are my comfort, they are my motivation. I remember every crazy thing I’ve done or tried and I know I am capable of more. I have SO few regrets and my bucket list is so short now that I’ve pretty much been to every place that I wanted to. It’s been over 10 years since I came home from my epic goal of seeing all 7 continents and for the past 10 years I’ve had 9 years of travel memories to reflect on. Lessons. Friends. Good times. Challenges. Beauty. Amazement. Culture Shock. It’s endless.
7. Follow your dreams! Dreams do not always look practical.
The most important thing is to try new things, challenge yourself. Listen to your heart. This blog post isn’t supposed to bully you into traveling. I’m writing this to those who already have a little voice excitedly whispering to them about all the places they would like to see. Whatever your dreams are, do them. IF your dream is to travel don’t let anyone talk you out of it. You will always have that “what if” in the back of your mind, and that guilt for not listening to yourself. If you let others dictate how to live your life you will squelch that tiny voice and your life will be lived by others’ opinions until you don’t even know what you truly want. It’s YOUR life. DO YOU.
Traveling will teach this to you. Travel is a perfect metaphor for how to navigate the rest of your life. Maybe that is why people want to do it so badly. It’s a tangible example of how we move through this path that is life. It taught me the true necessities: Food, shelter, and something to wear, everything else is just details. Everything I needed I carried on my back. What more is there? When I traveled every choice was mine, I didn’t have an itinerary, I changed my mind often, I was easily distracted and I followed the advice of the locals. Every day was a mini adventure. I would go somewhere, explore and move on. I feel that is how life is. It is in constant motion, we can always adjust the direction we are going or we can commit to one trail and see it through to the end, just to have that feeling of accomplishment.
They say people never have regrets about what they did, only about what they didn’t do. When I’m feeling low about myself I do question my decision to travel. I turned down going to art college. What did that do to my career? What did I miss out on by not going to college after high school? These thoughts can haunt me for hours when I am low. Yes, I feel like others look down on me for my lack of education, that some see college as being the end all for how to improve your life. But in reality, I still have time to go to college if it’s that important to me and now I’m in Germany where college is FREE. The world of possibilities are open. Also, travel bonus: I met my husband.
8. Don’t be a sheep
Ok, I copied this exact point from the other blog about why NOT to travel because I agree – in a different way. Yes, DO NOT travel just because everyone else is doing it. Travel is really trending right now. I feel like I’m the hipster saying “I traveled before it was cool.” Most of my travel was done pre-9/11. I never had a cell phone. *Gasp* There is no Instagram of my early travels but I’m on there now (shameless plug come follow me @sparrowshand)! BUT copying others is not the way to live your life.
On the other hand. I still see travel as going against the crowd. Don’t be like everyone else and go straight for that college degree and then work at a 9-5 job with a mortgage and a white picket fence in the suburbs and the 2.5 kids. I’m kind of putting my foot in my mouth because most of my friends are doing exactly this…sorry friend or anyone that is taking this personally. I’m not dissing that life path. My bottom line is: DON’T BE A FOLLOWER. Do your own thing.
Travel for curiosity’s sake. Travel because it stirs something in you. Follow your thrills and excitement. I was influenced by National Geographic before I could read. Go ahead and be inspired by Instagram. Learn from others and then do it your way. It’s so encouraging that so many people are out there following their dreams and doing what they love right now. It makes this world seem like such a small place. You can do it!
Thanks for letting me vent today. I hope you have found some motivation here. Please share this with any young friends you have that might be wondering what their next step is. Also, it would greatly help my blog if you could pin this article somewhere. Thank you so much. I’ve created a pin for you below