I hope to keep doing this before I have varicose veins on my legs or diapers to change. I could never understand the concept of “No, let’s save for a house/car/Children’s funds etc in your early twenties or why people would want to get into a 12 hour job 5 days a week unless it gave them a 24hour-a-day-4-weeks in a year to take off it.
I work at a corporate doing the regular 9-6 job and have been at it for more than three years now but that’s never hampered me from taking off on random or planned trips, solo or accompanied to a big city or a small town, for a couple of weeks or for a weekend. Life is too unpredictable to plan for 10years later if you can’t add life to the years now- when you’re young, impressionable and healthy. Now is the time to understand the world, appreciate differences- cultural, social, racial etc, get a taste of different kind of cuisines, music, fashion, partying etc. and truly feel like a part of the larger scheme of things. To say that a vast travel experience goes in the make-up of a human intellect, character and heart wouldn’t be an overstatement. I believe that a significantly well-travelled person is palpably more interesting, knowledgeable and yet more humble than someone who has never got out of their comfort zone. They say it’s when you travel the world do you realise how small you really are.
The trick in travelling young of course, lies in managing, budgeting and utilizing your time and (rather limited) resources better. I will write a separate post on how to travel when you are young, but here I am quoting the main chunk of the aforementioned article that resounds with me and with many young travelers the world over and inspires us to start or carry on fueling our wanderlust.
( Credits: Jeff Goins from the article http://convergemagazine.com/travel-young-5278/)
…..As part of our low-cost travel budget, we usually stayed in people’s homes. Over dinner or in conversation later in the evening, it would almost always come up — the statement I dreaded. As we were conversing about life on the road — the challenges of long days, being cooped up in a van, and always being on the move — some well-intentioned adult would say, “It’s great that you’re doing this … while you’re still young.”
Ouch. Those last words — while you’re still young — stung like a squirt of lemon juice in the eye (a sensation with which I am well acquainted). They reeked of vicarious longing and mid-life regret. I hated hearing that phrase.
I wanted to shout back,
“No, this is NOT great while I’m still young! It’s great for the rest of my life! You don’t understand. This is not just a thing I’m doing to kill time. This is my calling! My life! I don’t want what you have. I will always be an adventurer.”
In a year, I will turn thirty. Now I realize how wrong I was. Regardless of the intent of those words, there was wisdom in them.
As we get older, life can just sort of happen to us. Whatever we end up doing, we often end up with more responsibilities, more burdens, more obligations. This is not always bad. In fact, in many cases it is really good. It means you’re influencing people, leaving a legacy.
Youth is a time of total empowerment. You get to do what you want. As you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important. The best way to do that is to make investments in your life so that you can have an effect on who you are in your later years.
I did this by traveling. Not for the sake of being a tourist, but to discover the beauty of life — to remember that I am not complete.
There is nothing like riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge or seeing the Colosseum at sunset. I wish I could paint a picture for you of how incredible the Guatemalan mountains are or what a rush it is to appear on Italian TV. Even the amazing photographs I have of Niagara Falls and the American Midwest countryside do not do these experiences justice. I can’t tell you how beautiful southern Spain is from the vantage point of a train; you have to experience it yourself. The only way you can relate is by seeing them.
While you’re young, you should travel. You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. Spend an afternoon sitting in front of the Michelangelo. Walk the streets of Paris. Climb Kilimanjaro. Hike the Appalachian trail. See the Great Wall of China. Get your heart broken by the “killing fields” of Cambodia. Swim through the Great Barrier Reef. These are the moments that define the rest of your life; they’re the experiences that stick with you forever.
Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large and very small. You will have a newfound respect for pain and suffering, having seen that two-thirds of humanity struggle to simply get a meal each day.
While you’re still young, get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.
You won’t always be young. And life won’t always be just about you. So travel, young person. Experience the world for all it’s worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion. While you still can.
Do not squander this time. You will never have it again. You have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. The habits you form in this season will stick with you for the rest of your life. So choose those habits wisely.
And if you’re not as young as you’d like (few of us are), travel anyway. It may not be easy or practical, but it’s worth it. Traveling allows you to feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way, like little else can. In other words, it makes you more human.
That’s what it did for me, anyway….
Thanks Jeff for this. For assuring me that I must be doing something right.