There are people who believe that extensive travel should only happen later in life. They will tell you to put off those exotic travel dreams until you are older, more established, and financially secure. Those people are wrong.
In reality, your twenties are one of the best decades of your life to take a risk, buy a ticket, and explore the world. Here are some very important reasons that there’s no better time to travel than in your twenties.
More Energy, More Fun
Chances are pretty good that you’re as healthy and energetic right now as you’ll ever be. As a twenty-something you have a tremendous advantage over older travelers: you can travel longer, cheaper, and more adventurously because you don’t need to worry about bad knees, a heart condition, or or waking up at 5 a.m.
Your youthful, somewhat reckless, seemingly endless energy is a finite resource, so now is the time to capitalize on it. The possibilities are endless: you can go bungee jumping without fear, hike an unrestored section of the Great Wall of China, or dance all night in Ibiza and not hate yourself in the morning. After all, who wants to hike Machu Picchu with bad knees and back pain?
Traveling Cheaper is Actually an Advantage
The idea that you should wait until you’re financially well-off to travel in style is misguided. Putting aside the fact that you actually have no idea what your financial situation may be twenty years from now (remember the recession unexpectedly wiped out countless people’s retirement funds), traveling in luxury isn’t always the best option. It may sound counter-intuitive, but traveling with less money often leads to more fun, more interesting experiences, and better stories.
When you travel as a budget backpacker, you expose yourself to a whole new world of opportunities.
You’ll stay in youth hostels and make new friends from all over the world. You’ll eat cheap street food, take the sketchy overnight bus, and wear flip flops for two months straight. You’ll take advantage of the volunteer programs, student discount cards, and rail passes only available to those under 30. You’ll do incredible things with impossibly small sums of money and have a great time experiencing the world in away you just can’t at a luxury resort.
(Photo CC BY // Lindsey Turner)
You Are More Likely to Actually Go
How many of those people who swear they’ll travel later actually do it? The longer you live, the more complicated life gets. While houses, spouses, and careers are all important life achievements, they make it much more difficult to drop everything and take a few months, or a year, off to travel the world.
Which isn’t to say that your life is simple now, or that planning a big trip is easy. Just that it’s easier to take off for parts unknown without the responsibilities of a mortgage, kids, or elderly parents demanding your time and attention.
(Photo CC BY // Susana Fernandez)
It’ll Change You Forever
The real value of international travel isn’t the selfies you will take in front of famous landmarks, or the pretty sunsets you’ll watch. It’s the fact that the people you meet, the problems you encounter, and the adventures you conquer will change you inexorably. When done right, travel will help mold you into a more interesting, more compassionate, and more knowledgable person.
The experiences you have and the lessons you learn while traveling will stay with you for your entire life, so traveling young will give you the best value for all your hard work. Youth is a finite resource, and it’ll be gone faster than you think, so take advantage of your precious time to do something new and unforgettable.