Start Your Career Now, Travel Later

Will Folsom
Will Folsom

There are countless articles urging the young and hungry to go out and see the world before they get bogged down by the humdrum of a “real job.” I envy those who have enough freedom to travel while they are young, but youth does not equal freedom. Not everyone is in the position to see the world right out of school. It’s okay, we have our whole lives ahead of us. Here are six reasons why I decided to live ‘real life’ now, and see the world later.

You don’t have responsibilities yet — oh wait

Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t need financial security. To be snide about a job that pays the bills is terribly bourgeois. Even young people need money for things other than beer and partying: student loans, food, and rent if you no longer live in your childhood home.

You won’t have time in the future — oh wait

The common belief is that once you start working, the amount of time you can invest in traveling depends on how many days of annual leave you get. That is to say, backpacking around Europe for a month or three seems impossible.

But most people don’t stay in the same workplace forever. If you’re switching companies or departments, request an extended break before starting at your new position. This may mean a period of unemployment or unpaid leave, but you’ll definitely be better off financially than your fresh-out-of-school self.

You don’t need much money to travel– but money gives you more travel options

Yes, you can couchsurf your way through the world and have unforgettable nights drinking cheap beer with locals. But — and I’m sure this isn’t just me — once in a while, I would like to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, or check out DisneySea in Tokyo, and these things can get pretty costly. Having worked (and saved) before embarking on a big trip means you can seek a backpacking adventure — and also splurge on some of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

A serious relationship will bog you down — or it will teach you compromise

If I am in a long-term relationship, I don’t want to just be reminiscing about that unforgettable summer I spent island-hopping in Thailand when I was young, taut, and single. I want to go on fabulous trips with him. I want to be with someone who knows we can make the things we want come true, even if it takes time, effort and compromise. I want to look forward to the future.

What I don’t want is feeling like the best days of my life are behind me just because I am attached now.

Travel is the greatest teacher — working is a pretty good teacher too

Whatever your job is, you probably have to deal with cranky people and impossible deadlines. Chances are, you’ve grown into a master at getting others to do your bidding. As an introvert, I used to rely on companions to speak up for me. But my time as journalist schooled me well in talking my way out of lousy situations (mandatory new year’s eve hotel dinners?!) and into desired ones (room upgrades, free calling cards). You can get cheated while traveling before you pick up these tricks.


There is nothing quite as delicious as anticipation. You spent three years traveling the world before getting this job? Wow, I’d be sure to ask you for some travel tips… right before I jet off to the country you visited a decade ago and I will be in next week. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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