I have had the HUGE case of wanderlust, and am thinking of spending this coming summer traveling. I can either travel OR go to school. Do I travel before school or after? do I even need to go to school? I’m not sure what to do. My heart tells me to forget school and go see and experience the world, but my logical head (and adult figures all around me) would have me go to school, finish my degree, and THEN go gallivanting.
I am really excited to be finished with undergrad & begin the next chapter of my life. I have the standard 6 month period to wait before starting to pay off my loans. I know the rational thing to do is find a job immediately post-graduation…but I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. I worked for an NGO in Bolivia this past summer & loved every minute of it. Part of me wants an experience in that vein again– I want to take off post-graduation for a little while (& I have saved funding to do so for a few months).Should I do it? When is the best time to travel?You guys? I hear you. I totally, totally do. There’s Rarely A ‘Perfect’ Time To Do Anything
Why There Isn’t a Perfect Time to Travel in Life
Just like having kids, changing careers or dying your hair purple, there is rarely a ‘perfect’ time to travel. There will always be other things that you could be doing, other things that people in your life think are a better idea – interning, buying a house, marrying your partner, taking a temp job. But we have to make our dreams priorities if we want to make them happen, right?
And though there isn’t really a ‘perfect’ time to sell everything and backpack through India, doing it while you’re mortgage and child-free is a pretty good time. That being said, I know people who have traveled for long periods of time while they paid on house payments or school loans. I know people who have left impressive jobs and who have traveled with children. If you want to do it badly enough, you can find a way!
How to Make Travel Work – At Any Time in Life
Prepare As Best You Can
Heading out for a big adventure takes a good bit of planning, not just for the traveling bit but also for the inevitable return to ‘reality.’ I felt a lot more comfortable doing my world ticket because I knew that I’d be starting graduate school the following November. Being a deeply nerdy Virgo I even need my free-falling adventures to be a bit structured.
Make sure you have enough money for your trip. However much you think you’ll need, you probably need at least 30% more. Consider volunteering in exchange for your room and board to save a bit of money. Stay in places for a while – you’ll save a lot of money on transportation and get to know the culture much, much better.
Have a return plan in place. Even if it’s just the knowledge that you can crash with your BFF and nanny for your aunt for the Summer, it’ll make you feel a lot better to know that you have some sort of plan.
If You Think You’re Not Ready For Something, You’re Probably Right
If you suspect that you’re not ready to commit to a major or to start climbing the corporate ladder, you’re probably right. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m much more likely to think that I’m ready for something, bite off more than I can chew, choke quietly and spit it back out into my napkin than vice versa.
If something gives you The Fear, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it, right? It can be hard to differentiate between a wee case of cold feet and genuine trepidation, so sit down and have a serious think about it. When you imagine working in an office, how do you feel? When you think about listening to lectures, does that bottom of your stomach drop out?
Understand The Reality of Long-Term Travel
Traveling for months at a time is awesome. Totally life-changing, enlightening and amazing. It will also create holes in your resume, use up a lot of money, change the way you view the world and challenge a lot of relationships. I spent most 2004 – 2008 living abroad and traveling, and I’m saving money at the moment for another world ticket. I would not trade my experiences for anything – really, anything. But you should also know that I’m 30, unmarried, childless, renting and making significantly less money than other people with my qualifications. All of which I’m totally fine with! But you should realize that all of that travel? It comes with a price. Had I stayed in America and kept my nose to the societal grindstone I’m sure I’d be in a very different place in terms of finances, relationships and career.
But then I’m not really one for grindstones.
It should also be pointed out (and I’m really not being glib here) that the nomadic life is genuinely addictive, just like any other pleasurable habit. Itchy feet are real! Don’t let this dissuade you from traveling, just be aware that you might be chasing the dragon.
What do you guys think? Should these girls bite the bullet and book their tickets?
Got the travel bug? Check out my ebooks and podcasts on making long-term travel a reality! Only $15 forpetessake!