When I was twenty-five, I quit my job to travel the world because I met five travelers in Thailand who changed my views on how I wanted to live my life. I saw them living their dreams, exploring the world, and thought “Why not me?” After traveling to Costa Rica the year before, my waking thoughts were filled with the simple question “How can I travel more?” These travelers had figured out the answer that had alluded me and after meeting them, I realized I would do what they do. I quit my job, finished school, and left for one year. Over seven years later, I’ve never stopped or looked back on that decision.
And when people tell me they want to travel but will “sometime in the future,” this why I tell them they should travel now:
You aren’t getting any younger.
Tomorrow will be here before you know it, and soon you might be too old or sick to travel. Why spend the best days of your life putting off something you want to do until the worst days of your life? It’s amazing how quickly the years seem to go by (youth is truly wasted on the young). I may not be very old, but I can tell you, there is no time like the present. Pretty soon, you’re older, wiser, and filled with too many regrets.
You will work until you’re dead.
A lot of people worry about working and their careers. They think taking a career break is career suicide (it’s not). Let’s face it though—the days of working until you’re 55 and getting a pension when you retire are long gone. That economical model is gone and you’ll have to fend for yourself. If you don’t invent the next Facebook, you’re going to be working for a very, very long time. There will always be work to come home to, so go forth and explore now! Don’t spend your best days in an office—you’ll be doing that until you’re dead anyways.
Now is always the best time.
Tomorrow may never come. You can get hit by a bus on the way to work, have a heart attack, or end up in a situation where you can’t travel anymore. No one ever regrets traveling more and using the time they have now to its best potential. As they say, don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. Follow your heart and go. It knows what’s best for you anyways.
There is a never a perfect time to travel.
A lot of people wait for the stars to align and the “perfect” time to travel. Trust me. You’ll never find that time. The right time to go is when you make up your mind to go. There will always be bills, a wedding, birthday, responsibility, or something to make you think you need to delay your trip. There will always be a reason to wait. And pretty soon they years will have passed and you’ll find another reason not to go. Don’t fall into the “responsibility” trap. When I left, all my bills, car payments, and responsibilities disappeared. The chains that weighed me down were cast off and I was free.
It can help you figure out your path in life.
Maybe you were never meant to sit in a cubicle, be a teacher, or work as an accountant. Or maybe you were. Travel can help you find some perspective on want to do with yourself. Traveling has lead to me to where I am, taught me I don’t like working in classrooms (I used to be a teacher), and that I hate offices (worked in one for close to four years). Or, like many I know, travel helps you realize that job you thought you hated was actually the one you’ve wanted all along.
You find yourself.
Traveling teaches you about yourself: how to be independent, courageous, more social, and better at reading people and situations. It may be a total cliché, but you really do learn a lot when you leave your comfort zone and travel the world. Living overseas and traveling solo have taught me that I can make it anywhere and I can (usually) find my way on my own.
The dollar is strong(ish) again.
For years the US dollar was very, very weak, and while it’s still not the strongest currency in the world, it has gained strength relative to other major currencies, making now a cheaper time to travel. Choice destinations include Australia, Canada, parts of Southeast Asia, and South America. Go now and spend less!
It’s never been easier.
When I started planning my trip in 2006 (which wasn’t that long ago), there was hardly any resources online or smartphones that made looking up information easy. Now, the growth of online resources and the sharing economy have made it easier to find reliable travel information and connect with locals. No place is too obscure to become your next destination. You’re now able to find tons of information online, in books, and on the road about where you’re going, what to do there, and, with the click of your mouse, book a trip to your dream destination.
The economy sucks.
The unemployment rate is incredibly high and most people are underemployed and barely paying their bills. Instead of wasting your time trying to find a job or in a dead end job, walk away from it all and find work overseas. Teaching jobs or seasonal work abroad can be found very easily on websites like Helpx.net and Workaway.info. I made enough money teaching English in Thailand that kept me on the road for close to a year! Get a job overseas, pay off your debts, and travel the world. Wait out the storm and come back with skills and experience for your career when the economy is better.
For every argument you make, I can make a logical counter agreement but at the end of the day it comes down to one thing: what makes you happy? If you really want to travel, go travel. Life will work itself out. You can always go home if you don’t like it. We are only here in this form once, why not live the life you want and do what brings you joy?
When you do that, the whole world belongs to you.