Give Me Back My Five Bucks

You don’t have to travel when you’re young

I’ve always wanted to travel, but obviously since last year (age 29) was my first time overseas, it was never my first priority. I wanted to clear my debt first, build up a savings cushion, learn how to spend responsibly, get comfortable with having a budget, and have some sort of financial stability before I could even begin to think about traveling the world.

When I was younger, many of my friends went traveling. I was extremely jealous of their experiences, but not of the fact that they racked up credit card debt, ignored student loan payments, and came back home to a financial mess. Now that I’m able to afford to travel, almost none of my friends can because they’re too busy paying for the life they led 10 years ago.

venice03And that’s fine by me, because I personally think I’m appreciating travel more now, than I would have when I was younger. For one thing, I can afford it. Sure, I still stay in hostels most of the time and travel on the cheap. But I can afford to do amazing things as well – like hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, hiking in the Arctic Circle, taking a gondola ride in Venice, and eating real, proper meals in restaurants if I want to – without any of it having a major impact on my budget.

The few times I traveled when I was younger? It was rough staying within such a tight budget. Especially since “budgeting” was a foreign concept to me anyway. I still have very vivid memories of taking a $80 Greyhound bus ride to Anaheim when I was 18 years old, and eating cold Chef Boyardee in our motel room because it was all we could afford. Being older and knowing how to manage my money appropriately makes traveling a lot less stressful. And maybe even more enjoyable?

There’s so much emphasis on traveling when you’re young. In fact, just a few days ago, someone pointed me to this article: 3 reasons to travel while you’re young. Basically the idea of the article is not to hold off on traveling. No matter what the circumstances, there will always be something to stop you. Here’s an excerpt:

Never were more fatal words spoken:

  • Yeah, but… what about debt?
  • Yeah, but… what about my job?
  • Yeah, but… what about my boyfriend (or dog or car or whatever)?

Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for grad school or a steady job and traveled still did those things — eventually. Be careful of the yeah-but. The yeah-but will kill your dreams.

The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it. Do this while you’re still young. Do not squander the time. You will never have it again.

I get the message behind what he’s saying: don’t be scared, just go for it. But to put a time limit on travel – to say that you should do it while you’re still young (what’s wrong with doing it when you’re 30, or 40, or 60?) – to contemplate forfeiting all other life goals… well I think that’s a bit foolish. And it’s the reason why I don’t read many travel blogs. It’s like if you don’t travel often (or at all, even though you want to) because you have other priorities in life, all of a sudden you’re uncultured, boring, and basically dismissed. Not saying all travel blogs are like that, but some are. That’s probably why I’m a better fit as a personal finance blogger, than a travel blogger. :)

And it leads to comments and sentiments like this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 2.42.52 PM

To even suggest that going into debt in order to travel will enrich your life? Or that you should travel instead of taking care of (high interest) debt? Come on. Let’s be real here. Perhaps it’s because I’m a personal finance blogger, but I think that’s the dumbest piece of advice I’ve ever heard. Traveling doesn’t automatically make you better, smarter, or more cultured than anyone else. It also doesn’t make you more interesting either. Life experiences do – and it doesn’t matter if you gain those experiences working a 9-5 job, raising children, getting out of debt, earning an education, or traveling.

421984_10150572636880248_507680247_9549546_1086526455_nI had coffee with a friend a friend last week, and we got to talking about my year in Germany. She said the one thing she really regretted was not spend time living abroad somewhere during her life. I gave her a weird look and said, “your life isn’t over just because you’re 30, you know.” She gave me an equally weird look back and I immediately knew she hadn’t even considered living abroad now that she was “old.” There are plenty of opportunities to travel and live abroad at any age. And of course it’s true you will experience things differently when you’re young. But who’s to say whether that experience will be better or worse than going 10 or 20 years down the road?

I guess my point is that I don’t think anyone should regret not traveling when they’re young. Not everyone can. Or wants to. If you have debt to take care of, a career to think about, family obligations, or any other reason that would prevent you from packing your bags – guess what? The world will still be around to explore after you’re 20’s. :) And maybe, MAYBE it just might be better that way.

So travel when you’re young. Travel when you’re old. It doesn’t matter. Travel if that’s what you want to do in life. Or don’t. Just don’t go into debt to do it, and don’t get pressured into stretching yourself thin just because you feel the need to experience or see something by a certain age.

Do you think it’s essential to travel when you’re young?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Sometimes it feels like traveling the world is the new cultural norm. You don’t do it and you’re not considered well rounded. Personally I think being well rounded is a matter of effort not of location.

  2. We want to travel to so many different countries, but I’m extremely pragmatic. There are other goals that need to be accomplished like having savings, saving for retirement, buying a house, etc. We are so close to buying a house, after that, everything will be on auto pilot for a while which will enable us to travel more.
    I don’t believe in racking up debt for the purpose of traveling. I kinda can’t stand people who complain about not having enough to pay their bills because of all their debt, and then you look at their debt, and realize it was frivolous spending. If they had just waited, they wouldn’t have that problem. Right?

  3. Erin says:

    I love this post because it does seem like there’s this imaginary window of time when you’re “young” that you must see the world and it has to be done before you’re old. Well I think I’ve passed that magical window but I certainly still have aspirations to travel to different parts of the world but it’s just not in the cards at the moment. When it does happen I think I will appreciate it more and I’ll know ahead of time what I really want to get out of the experience. I admire those that pick up and jet off to see the world but I could never ignore potential repercussions of an adventure I didn’t have the cash for. I don’t want to remember something that significant in my life through the debt I accumulated to achieve it.

  4. Bridget says:

    I’m really, really, really glad I traveled even though I had debt, but I’m also really, really, really glad I didn’t use debt to fund those travels (while it’s true that if I skipped those trips I’d be debt-free now, I don’t necessarily consider that the same as using debt to fund my trips. I saved up for all my vacations while making debt payments, there were no crossovers.)

    That comment that you should do whatever it takes, take out a loan, take out a credit card, is easy for that idiot to say. He’s in his 20s. He’s in medical school with probably a crazy amount of student loan debt. HE HAS NO EXPERIENCE WORKING OR PAYING DOWN DEBT.
    It’s easy to borrow when you’ve never had to pay it back? No fucking kidding. I am 100% certain he’ll be singing a different tune when he’s in his thirties, working 80hrs/wk as an underpaid resident, and on the verge of bankruptcy.

    I skipped out on an international vacation this year because financially it wasn’t a good idea. I’d love to see the world. I’d really love to be able to say I have 30+ countries under my belt. I had the vacation time and a untapped line of credit, so why not? But I didn’t, because I’m not a moron. Trips don’t come cheap, and a week or two abroad is a month or two or ten of work to pay it off.

    I love travel. I plan to continue to travel, but I have to do it responsibly. I don’t want to be on a hamster wheel of debt for the rest of my life, I don’t care how many destinations that means I’ll miss out on. I like knowing my retirement is well funded, my credit is pristine, and I have money available for emergencies. No week in Mexico can give me that.

  5. I’ve spent the last 17 months scrimping and saving to pay off my undergrad education and my car. The result? No trips (except one to Boston for three days) while watching my friends travel all over the world. It sucks to be left behind, but the result of my choices is that I’ll be debt free by the time I’m 24, with a ton of cash flow to finance my travel dreams.

    Once I’m out of debt, I plan on travelling regularly, and to pay for it with cash.

  6. Jeff says:

    “Travelling doesn’t automatically make you better, smarter, or more cultured than anyone else. It also doesn’t make you more interesting either. Life experiences do – and it doesn’t matter if you gain those experiences working a 9-5 job, raising children, getting out of debt, earning an education, or travelling.”

    I agree travelling doesn’t make someone “better” or “smarter” than someone else. But I don’t know a better way to become more cultured than travelling to and living within a different culture. I also think someone who has experienced different cultures, climates and ways of life is / would be more interesting (in terms of cultural knowledge, if that’s the subject) than someone who stuck to the same routine with the same people their entire life.

    I had never left North America until October, 2012 at the age of 27. Ended up using Air BnB to stay on Oahu, Kauai and Big Island in Hawaii for 2 weeks. I stayed with locals and met fellow travellers and consider myself much more ‘cultured’ for having done so. I can honestly say I regret waiting so long. If I had saved up all of my bar money / changed my priorities and invested in travelling, I’d have the same amount in my bank account today, with a whole lot more memories / experiences / perspective.

    Long story short,in my opinion, if you want to travel, do it while you’re young so the experiences can influence your life as you get older. Not sure if it’s your plan Krystal, but for the majority of people there’s a big difference travelling when you’re young and single / without kids than there is afterwards.

    • You went to Hawaii and you’re arguing about how cultured it made you?


      Way to live on the edge there, champ.

      • I know the internet leads folks to post things anonymously they wouldn’t say to a stranger’s face but there’s no need for sarcasm dude. This isn’t Gawker.

      • Jeff says:

        Much more cultured is a relative concept, considering I had never left North America, you half wit. I fully realize Hawaii is largely a tourist destination. But, believe it or not, people who live on an island (whether born and raised or not) in the middle of the ocean have different outlooks on life than people who live in Toronto (where I live now).

        Sorry, champ, but I did not know anyone who lived for the surf until I travelled there. Now I do, and I appreciate the surfing culture / lifestyle – largely because of its respect for the ocean.

  7. I studied abroad my senior year in college, with the ISEP program which my university was a member of. By doing it through ISEP, I was able to use all of my financial aid (university, state, private, and federal aid), not just my federal aid for my studying abroad. While there were limitations on where you could go (you had to have four semesters of a foreign language to go to a non-English speaking country, you faced competition if you weren’t open to a few locations, and the universities were often in smaller cities) I still had a great time where I was placed (in Nijmegen, The Netherlands at an English speaking university). I still took out a loan to go, but the cost of living in Europe and traveling while there was insignificant as a study abroad student versus if I went backpacking through Europe with friends.

    That was the last major international trip I took (outside of Canada) in the past 8 years. While I accrued debt to go, I knew that doing it the way I did was a great way to travel in a financially sound way so that if it took a while to travel again, I had a great experience that would last the years. I’m now going to Jamaica in the fall for my honeymoon. It’s not cheap, but it’s something my fiancee and I both agreed we’d spend our hard-saved money on and we’d cut costs everywhere else in our wedding to ensure we’re not breaking the bank to go on this trip. I also know after this, that if I have to wait another 8 years to go on another major international excursion, at least this trip will be nice enough that it will make the 8 years worth waiting for the next trip.

  8. Karie says:

    I think it’s easier to travel while you’re young and have your whole career ahead of you and possibly still living at home with your parents. It really depends on your future. If you get married in your mid twenties, buy a house and a car and have children by age 30, travel is simply going to be a different experience. To pay for my family of 5 to travel somewhere plus make all our house payments, property taxes and other bills, take the kids out of school or travel in high season is just really costly to pay for the travel X 5 plus paying our bills at home, that’s how you get yourself into debt unless you sell everything and travel extensively for awhile which I guess you can do too.

    It is much much easier to get out of debt when you’re only responsible for yourself but when you’re paying to replace the roof, kids clothes and activities, orthodontist bills, it’s just way harder.
    You can travel when you’re older but most people don’t travel the same way such as going to 30 countries or whatever – it’s for much shorter periods of time until a person retires. The world is changing in that many people can work remote as long as they have internet access so more North Americans may find they have the opportunity to travel or work abroad and that can be key to traveling when you’re not young but not retired.

    I think everyone should do what feels right for them. If you find it more enjoyable to travel without student loan debts, etc, do that! If someone else feels this is the right time in their life and that they can can pay off the debt after their travels do that!
    I traveled through Europe in my early twenties for 3 months and it was very fun and also life changing. I did not acquire more debt but I did have student loans. My husband and I did it again with Eurail passes for 2 weeks at age 29 and 31 and that was great too. Now our vacations are more about renting cottages, Disney, etc. Even if my husband and I manage to get away just the two of us, we have to coordinate plans for our kids and we just don’t have near the same kind of disposable income we once did which I think is the biggest factor to less traveling at this point in our life.

  9. Kris says:

    The idea that there’s an expiration date on your travel is BS. My first living-abroad experience was last year, when I was 40. I plan on having many more. And incurring debt to do it without having a realistic and concrete plan to pay it off is REALLY dumb. Plenty of Peace Corps volunteers also in their 50s, 60s, 70s. The idea that you must do it young is a fallacy.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Agreed! I used to think that all of my adventurous travel would at least have to be done soon, but I’m seeing people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s complete epic, amazing hikes. So it gives me confidence knowing I don’t have to knock out Peru, Kenya, Thailand, and Nepal (all hiking/climbing trips) within the next 10 years if I don’t want to/can’t afford it.

  10. Alyssa says:

    Really great and interesting article. I’m feeling the pressure of “Do it now! While you’re young!” I agree that you shouldn’t go into debt to travel. But I do see the point of doing it while you’re young before other commitments show up IF you plan on making those commitments. If you’re 25 and want to be married in the next few years and have kids by 30 (also assuming you want a house in there), then yes, you ought to travel now, if you have the means.

    I want to continue traveling through my whole life, but traveling when you’re 60 and retired is a very different experience. Not a bad one, just different.

    It all comes down to priorities. My current priorities are saving for our wedding, saving for a house, and travel. It’s a lot, yes, but I’m debt-free, so I have more flexibility. Our honeymoon will be a big travel adventure, and we have several trips planned in the next few years.

  11. Name Withheld says:

    Out of the entire article, this is the sentence I found the most interesting:

    “Now that I’m able to afford to travel, none of my friends can because they’re too busy paying for the life they led 10 years ago.”

    None of your friends can travel because they’re ALL paying off debt from the last ten years??? None of your friends can travel!?!? I find that incredible that every single one of your friends can’t afford to travel. I feel like you keep good pals, and that a great deal of them could travel with cash.

    Also, some people pre-judge me and think that I have debt from traveling the world since I was 16 (about 11 countries by the time I was 23). I have NO debt other than a small student loan and all my travel was paid with cash that I earned. So, please don’t assume that all of your friends can’t travel because of previous trips or lifestyles.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Thanks for your comment. It’s not an assumption, it’s the truth based on me asking them if they wanted to go somewhere. I try to never assume things of my friends, or people in general. Most of my good friends (pretty much all of them, aside from one) that I would actually want to travel with cannot go on trips due to having to pay back student loans, credit card debt, lines of credit, etc. The majority of debt is from student loans, and I get that.

      I guess the main thing I want to point out is the list of friends that I would want to travel with is pretty small (maybe 6-8 people).

  12. I don’t think it’s necessary to travel when you are young. You can travel whenever. I know that when I was in college I was always jealous of everyone going everywhere when I couldn’t because I was low on funds. I always regretted not taking years off to go and travel. But now with a real people job, I can do it the way I want it and still be responsible. If you have the travel bug, you will find a way to do it, responsibly. At least that’s how I do it. I have plenty of friends that will travel abroad 3-4 times a year but charge everything and look at me weird when I only do one major trip a year. But guess what? I only do 1 trip a year because I save most of the year and book things in advance to get the best prices.

    Planning is everything when traveling and for me a budget is incredibly important. My boyfriend and I do one domestic trip (in the U.S.) to get to know a new state and a new country a year. We save up the money for the plane ticket then lodging and finally spending money. By the time we leave, the trip is paid for so when we come back, we are not in a financial mess. We also try to schedule our return on pay day so we are not completely poor. It might take me a long time to see the whole world but at least I know that my finances are still great.

    Thank you for this post. It made me feel a little bit less crazy about caring so much about my money while having the travel bug. I basically work to travel but I still want to stay debt-free (as of December 2012!) and be responsible so I don’t regret those trips later.

  13. Kara says:

    Interesting read. I travelled a lot in my early 20s (I’m 29) and don’t regret a moment of it. I lived in France on student exchange for my last semester of University and it was the best thing for me at the time. I did it to step out of my little box and to explore the world on my own, and on my own terms. I was on a strict budget as a student, but took out a student line of credit to support myself for the time-being. I still don’t consider it debt as I graduated without ANY student debt except for this $6K loan. The entire 6 months I was in Europe, I spent only $10K including $3K in tuition back home.

    While the experience of living in hostels, eating peanut butter sandwiches 2 meals of the day, and carefully watching my money, was an experience I had to have, I wouldn’t travel like that anymore. I am debt-free and able to spend a bit more on nice dinners, cheaper hotels (not hostels though), and can experience a bit more. I usually do at least one big trip an a smaller one a year. (Last year was Spain and Dominican Republic, and this year is a road-trip to the East Coast of Canada and a weekend trip to New York).

    However, I do not at all agree with maxing out credit cards, taking out loans, etc, for young people who have no back-up plan. Study abroad for a semester, have a home base (usually cheap dorm room accommodation), and stay in hostels on your weekend trips. It’s a much cheaper way to experience the world.

    Thanks for the post though – I agree with you :)

  14. Diedra B says:

    I took a year off from college to teach English in Asia. I highly recommend this to students as a way of traveling without taking on debt. I received a stipend for teaching, round trip airfare, free accommodation, and any student loans I had were on hold until I got back. I didn’t get to graduate with my friends but it gave me an experience I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    Now that I’m “old”, it’s going to be tough to get to spend more than a few days/weeks at a time outside of the country. That being said if I, or my spouse got an offer to be transferred outside the country, I would jump at it (he probably wouldn’t).

    Traveling later in life is something I want to do, but again, I would try to make it work for me financially. The challenge with that also is less physical fitness. I would hope I’d be able to hike the grand canyon at 65, but somehow I think I better get that done before my thirties are over.

  15. Kayla says:

    Thanks for posting this Krystal, you make an excellent point! I can see both sides of this argument, but I definitely agree that travel doesn’t expire when you hit 25! For me, I combined my desire to travel young with my career and school needs. Since I am going to school for social work, I volunteered in Kenya for 6 months (completely paid for through my savings, and no student debt). With that volunteer experience, I was not only able to get into the social work program at UBC, but also travel a little too. I think I’ll save other, ‘big’ trips (like Europe) for the future when I know I can afford and enjoy it to the fullest :)

  16. greg says:

    I totally agree. As someone on the financial independence boat, I’d prefer not to take a detour to decades of additional freedom. Right on the nosey, K!

  17. young says:

    I actually loved that post about traveling with the “just do it” mentality lol. You know, its kind of funny but I wish I went traveling for 6 months or 12 months when I was younger, before I had any real responsibilities like a mortgage or being tied down to my job or school etc. I think that if one of your life goals is to have children, then traveling (especially adventure traveling like hiking etc.) may have to be put on the back burner. I know that people these days have a YOLO mentality, but really, you never know whats going to happen in your life (we don’t have a crystal ball of whether we’ll get cancer at the age of 40 or whether we get bad knees once we retire at 55 rendering us not able to climb mt kilimanjaro lol). Everyone has one life to live and we all have to live authentically, doing what makes us truly happy (and I agree, if traveling makes you truly happy then be it). But I don’t agree in going into deep debt for traveling of course.

    I guess in a nutshell what I’m trying to say is that everyone has different priorities :)

  18. Troy says:

    29!?!?!? Wow – that’s pretty old! For me, travelling is a part of me job, so I do it every so often (scouring the world for investment opportunities).

  19. Anonymous says:

    I took out a $10K line of credit (in addition to having $19K of student debt) in order to travel after I passed the bar exam and before I started working as a corporate lawyer. Given that I was going to be making well over $100K 3 months later it was a no brainer. I have NO REGRETS and I don’t think it was the “stupidest thing ever” either. I got to see basically all of sub-Saharan Africa, did multiple safaris and went to countries that most people will frankly never make their way to as they are way off the beaten track. This is a trip that you’ll never be able to make with children or with a full time job that lets you take 3 weeks off per year. I paid off all my debt in 18 months, now own a large house with my husband and have no debt.

    I always tell people, travel while you are young, within reason. You need to be aware not just of your debt, but of your earning potential later on. When you get into your 30s, most people (not all, but most) will begin to have children and you can kiss extensive travel goodbye.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I think that’s great you were able to experience travel through a loan before you started working as a lawyer. However, I can’t recommend taking out loans for travel on this blog. It’s just not something I believe in. Taking out a loan means that you’re not able to afford to pay for travel with cash. And if you can’t pay for it in cash, it means you’re living beyond your means. So to me, regardless of whether it’s a fantastic opportunity, or you might never get to do it again, I just don’t think it’s a smart financial move for most people. In many fields of work, just because there is a potential to earn X amount of money, doesn’t mean a job is a guarantee.

      Also, the one thing I’ve learned through reading travel blogs is that it’s absolutely possible to travel with children. There are people that do it all the time, and it seems to be a very positive experience for both the parents and the children. I know of one blogger who is traveling full-time around the world on bicycles with his son. And know of a mother who travels throughout Europe with her young daughter every year.

      As for having a full-time job, I think that some work places would offer a leave of absence. I know people who have taken anywhere from 6 months to a 4 year leave of absence from their position before to go traveling.

      Sure, it could be easier to travel when you are young. But if you don’t have the money to do it, or if you have debt to take care of, or any other kind of obligation, then it might not be a responsible thing to do.

  20. Deasy says:

    I agree that traveling shouldn’t stop once you’re not ‘young’, but it’s definitely easier than when your life actually starts in terms of settling down with a family and having a career with only a 2 week vacation time per year. Financially, it’s so much more affordable to be able to travel if you’re only paying for yourself vs. paying for spouse + kids.

  21. I love the sentiment in this post. People have this idea that their dreams have a shelf-life. That’s bull. Every week I hear about people achieving their dreams. They are many different ages. But, there are two things that remain consistent about these people. They continued to dream big and they work towards the dream while tuning out the naysayers

  22. Ange says:

    I started traveling after graduation, which was about 11 years ago. During that time I have managed to save a money and I have never had any debt. I believe traveling is possible at any age.

    I graduated in 2002 at the age of 23 as a certified teacher and lived in Hong Kong for 4 years, during that time I found a job teaching at an international school, then to Singapore for 4 years and now I’m in Europe. During that time, I travel when I am not working as a teacher. It works to about 6 weeks of holiday during the school year, plus about another 6 weeks off in the summer. I’ve travelled all over Asia and now Europe.

    My co-workers are all ages, from families with children, to young singles, couples and retired couples to those that started teaching and traveling in their early 40s or 50s. As long as you are a certified teacher, have teaching experience, you can travel and work anywhere in the world.

    The world of international teaching is a great way to travel and work, regardless of how old you are. Living overseas has been an amazing experience, it’s different from being a tourist.

    If you’re a teacher and are interested in work and travel, here are some links:

    International School Services

    Search Associates

  23. deenadollars says:

    I studied abroad for four months while I was in college. This was fairly inexpensive because my scholarships and financial aid were applicable. I paid the same tuition as usual, and since my school placed a really heavy emphasis on studying abroad (50% of undergraduates did so), they had a very good system organized to make it affordable. The additional cost was about $800 for a plane ticket, a passport, vaccinations, and spending money. I decided to go to Vietnam, because that meant “spending money” was about $1,000 for the four months for food & extra side trips. It is very inexpensive to travel within Southeast Asia as compared to other places my school offered trips to, so this was an affordable way for me to see a very different part of the world. I learned a ton by living there versus traveling while having a full-time job — I took language classes daily, and had a lot of day-to-day experiences that I would have had as a tourist. I have not had the opportunity to travel out of the country since (eight years ago now), but it was an incredible experience that has shaped a lot of my career decisions and ways of looking at the world. I don’t regret the extra money spent at all, and I don’t know when I’ll have four months off again!

  24. Layla says:

    I used to think like that too. “I have to travel before I settle down and get a boring job and have kids and there’s no way I’m convincing my boyfriend to go to interesting, isolated, beautiful places.” Then I broke up with the boyfriend and got a bit older and wiser.

    I realized that I could really not enjoy a trip to Europe (I’d probably feel guilty the whole time about spending money – essentially living on credit from my future self who may have to take a job she doesn’t feel fulfilled in) …. but one can really enjoy a trip to somewhere a couple hours drive away or even a couple minutes walk away. So for now, I am trying to see amazing things in my own country because I live in a beautiful awesome country (Canada). And yes, I currently don’t get to experience vastly different cultures or exciting languages, but as far as I know now I’ll have tons of time to see other countries too (my odds of living till I’m old are getting better every day as I eat very little processed food and way more veggies than I used to)

    I used to think you had to travel to feel free, leaving the non-necessities behind, living in hostels, meeting new people. Now I realize that feeling free can be done anywhere, and travel can make you LESS free to live the life you want.

  25. Kayla says:

    My grandparents didn’t start traveling until they were in their 50s. Long after my mom and aunt were grown up and living their own lives. They go on a trip every fall after the haying and cattle season is over (they ranch). They’ve gone to Australia twice, New Zealand once, South Africa, Spain, the list goes on. They’re going to Chile this fall. Luckily their health has been excellent.. They have no regrets not traveling in their young age and waiting til they were older. I’m impatient, and probably won’t wait as long as them. I have a travel visa to earn points and am saving aggressively. I don’t think I could wait as long as them, but for them it worked!

  26. Kimberly says:

    I didn’t travel a lot in my 20s or 30. What I *did* do was LIVE in various places across Canada–Ontario, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Alberta, etc., all requirements of my husband’s internships for his graduate degree and for his first 10 years of work. I love living in different places but not so much travelling about. We did all this moving about with three small children, and yes, we were pretty much broke, but we weren’t paying for the trips, either. In my late 30s and now in my early 40s, I travel quite a bit for work, go across our country in the summers, etc. I can’t say I love it, but of course I learn and lot and hope to expand my horizons even more. My children are now grown (22, 20, 18), have a free university education because of my current job, and I am pretty much free to travel as much as I want (which isn’t necessarily a whole ton–I am very patient). Perhaps we lived life backwards, but I definitely feel young and vibrant with lots of time and energy to travel–STILL–even though I am not in my 20s. My own children can’t really afford to do it …

  27. eemusings says:

    Now that I have travelled extensively, in my mid 20s, my take is that if travel is your top priority in life, and you’re young, then now is probably the time. I didn’t have a mortgage, I didn’t have a high paying job I felt locked into (not that I’m likely to ever earn a ton though), I didn’t have ties holding me back.

    I didn’t want to get to be 50 or 60 and possibly have my travel plans be derailed by poor health or something else unforeseen. Travelling in my 30s or 40s is unlikely because I DO want a house and kids and all those trappings.

    But for many of my friends, settling down is the top priority, and they can travel later on if money/time/health permits. There’s no hard and fast rule for everyone.

  28. Eric says:

    I’ll never forget the first time I went on a date and travel came up; well – I suggested that I’m delaying the travel experience in exchange for eliminating debt/saving up for a rainy day. The look on her face was as if I was wearing clown make-up. This has happened more than once; however, I don’t fret because they probably weren’t the right ones for me.

  29. Anonymous says:

    when you’re in your twenties you haven’t settled down yet. There’s no kids to fret over. You can live in a croach-invested motel with no hot water for all you want and can afford. Of course the next stage in life where you don’t have to worry about kids would be when you’re 50-60 and your kids have all grown up. But you most probably won’t want to do backpacking anymore.
    I don’t agree with that guy and his “just do it” mantra of going into debt just to travel extensively. Make a conscious effort to put aside money every month for travel and it won’t hamper your financial journey. Save less, go on a short getaway. Have money for a big trip, go big! The only thing that is worth getting into a debt for is probably buying property.

  30. Good point! I’ve always felt that pressure to “do it before life locks you down”, but why should it? Kids can come with. Houses can be rented out. Pets can be left with family for a month or two.

    I’m on my first big, multi-country trip right now at 25 (turning 26 next month in Positano!) and definitely hope to travel the world. That can feel a bit overwhelming at times, especially since I have other dreams like home ownership and self employment. So I just drew up a list of all the “big trips” I’ll need to cover — assuming I want to do all the hardcore travelling by 70, that’s one trip every five years. Which is pretty doable and realistic, financially! So much more freeing than feeling like everything else has to wait.

  31. LawyerwithTravelBug says:

    Hi all,
    I’m not sure if you’re still checking the replies on this post, BUT I have been dealing with this issue and am torn and need advice!

    Basically, I made the foolish decision of going to law school (in Ontario, where I’m from.) Because my parents are working class poor, they were unable to financially assist me with any of my education costs. I worked a bit throughout undergrad (minimum wage jobs), mostly over the summers which didn’t pay much. I graduated undergrad with about $23,000 in debt, which is the average debt load for Canadian undergrads. I THEN made the foolish mistake of going to LAW SCHOOL and accumulating an extra $75k debt on top of that (law school tuition is expensive, and total cost including rent, etc. is $25k/year. That’s how I got to $75k.)

    I got a crappy low-paying law firm job after graduation (the economy for lawyers seems to be VERY bad in Toronto, unless you’re with a top firm..) which I did for 2 years, but was able to pay off $25k (so basically my undergrad debt) with that. I’m now 29, almost 30 years old and still have $75k left.

    At this point I’ve decided that I can’t accept anything less than $60k in salary given my loan payments. I have a semi-legal job right now along with odd-end jobs to help pay the bills. I did relatively well in law school but had a horrible experience first year out of law school, making me very skeptical of whether or not I should be a lawyer at all, and which set back my career goals a bit. Many of my lawyer friends are between jobs as well, until they find something more permanent that they can stomach.

    Anyway, I feel very sad and out of place because I haven’t travelled AT ALL throughout my 20s, due to my crippling debt and I feel like until I get a decent job (paying at least $75k) i won’t be able to pay off much of my student loans. Trying to pay $75k when you’re 30 years old and only making $40k is difficult and could take years.

    At this point I feel very depressed and like I NEED to explore the world though, but my family tells me travelling is irresponsible (note my parents rarely travelled throughout their entire lives or even got out of the house much as they were always concerned about finances.) I do not want to be as shut-in as them, and admittedly I was in my 20′s, only working & studying. I feel a HUGE amount of regret now, although one must also sympathize with my circumstances. I admit, 90% of my peers have travelled throughout all of Europe and even the South Americas/Africa (most lawyers have to be relatively well off to afford law school/come from upper middle class background) and just look at me like I’m an alien when I tell them I’ve never been to Europe.

    Also keep in mind that my background is Czech, so it would be nice for me to learn the language and see some relatives back there, which my parents never took the opportunity to do.

    I feel at a crossroads now. I’m planning to save up about $5,000 to go on a Contiki-style trip solo throughout a few countries in Europe (Contiki or the Explore program) but I do feel guilty given my debt as well.

    Can you provide any consolation/advice, or even if this $5k is a realistic amount? I’ve looked at some Contiki/Explore trips throughout Eastern Europe and they tend to be around $2000 for all land expenses (travel fare, hotel/hostel, food, touring, restaurants, etc.) but you have to pay for the flight costs on top of that. I expect that’s around $2,000 but I’m not sure (Toronto – Eastern Europe.)



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