The dilemma with twenty-somethings and their hasty travel plans

There’s this dilemma going around with the twenty-somethings these days, the young professionals, as they seem to call themselves.  I like to call then the YPs.  I know quite a lot of them, as they are my peers.  They are the people I went to school with, finished university with, work with and yes, I am one of them.  A lot of them want to travel.  But then they just don’t.

They are the ones that have landed their first or maybe second professional job for which they finally earn the salary produced by hours well spent behind books and desks and computer screens to obtain that most sought-after degree.  They live in the Big Cities and work for the Big Companies.  They belong to jogging clubs, wine clubs, art house movie clubs, church clubs and artisan coffee clubs.  They keep themselves busy and some to most of the YPs live quite contently in their Big Cities just like this.  There’s a lucky few that embrace the challenge head on and come out winning on the other side.  The majority of YPs I’m connected with still secretly yearns back to those carefree student days where little or no responsibilities and free time ruled the day.  They don’t seem to want to admit this, heck with a high earning job and jogging club, who are they to complain?

I was probably born with wanderlust and managed to travel extensively throughout South Africa and took two trips to Europe before I was eighteen.  AND then I became a poor student.  Always low on cash juggling three jobs for extra cash.  Dreaming about trips but not willing to take the risks.  I can’t wait to start my professional life!  Then I’ll finally save money to travel!   That’s what all of us dreamed of and all of our friends promised that we’ll do the Eurotrip or Thailand trip after our first paycheck.  Then life happens and so the dilemma starts.  Your best friends that were always so keen on seeing the world suddenly say to you: I’m buying my first new car!  After that I’ll start saving money to travel!  and then:  I’m putting down my first payment on my new apartment!  After that I’ll start saving money to travel!  or:  I’m getting married and financially we want to save our money to buy things for the house…I probably won’t be able to travel anywhere anytime soon.  

When you finally wake up from the YP illusion you realize that you’re nearing thirty and some of your best years to explore and build character and independence are well, almost behind you.  In the extreme cases where the wanderlust cannot be stopped you will find yourself thinking and doing something people will call you selfish, silly and impulsive for.  You’ve decided that you’ll do it on your own.  No more waiting and depending on people to do it with you or organize things for you.  People will tell you it’s irresponsible because in your twenties you have the capacity to work the hardest, start with long term investments and work yourself to the top of your profession.  Then you’ll be well away to do as you please in the future.  I’ve heard a lot of YPs say they’ll work now and travel later.  But personally I think that later you might have a family and pay school fees or your health might fail you and you might not be able to travel.  If you’re a true wanderer at heart, and if you listen to it, you’ll find a way.  You don’t have to quit your job.  You don’t have to become a hippie.  Anyone can travel if the want to or need to.

Traveling waits for no one.

You have to take the plunge and go buy that plane ticket, go plan that trip!  Buying your first plane ticket with your own hard earned money for the first time is the most rewarding feeling in the world.  If you even have the slightest gravitational pull towards the travel section in the bookstore, watching weird shows on the Travel Channel, or just the mere curiosity of exploring different things than your everyday life at your office job, just do it!  Plan a trip.  Even if it is a local road trip to that small coastal town 400 km away or going all out and splurging on a group trip to Europe or a solo trip to the UK just do it.  If you keep waiting for the ‘best time’ to go somewhere, you’ll be waiting for a long time.  There is always something else to do, or another bill to pay.  I’ve found that you can get started with almost no money in your savings account.  The only thing you have to remember is to have the courage to take the plunge into the unknown abyss.  Have a little faith in what life has to give back to you, after all, you have already given so much of your own time and effort to make it worthwhile.     

Trevi Fountain, Rome
Trevi Fountain, Rome
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23 thoughts on “The dilemma with twenty-somethings and their hasty travel plans

  1. It is a dilemma, though with those nice degrees and a little experience under your belts, there’s the wonderful opportunity to advance both options, taking jobs or volunteering all over the world. Good luck 🙂

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  2. This is very true and sad that sometimes we just let what life throws at us get in the way of our Travel Dreams that we once held tight to and promised ourselves we’ll do from our first big pay cheque.
    I’ve got my passport ready and have started saving up. No more excuses!
    Excuses are for sissies!! lol

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  3. As we “YPs” mature and create our lives after college, so many of our decisions are based on priorities and goals in life. I realized, two years out of school, that my job wasn’t what I wanted to be doing so I bought a one way ticket to Milan and started a 3 month solo adventure. The hardest part may be leaving the comforts of the social norm but it may also be reemergence into that isolated world after having seen so much. Thanks for your words!

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    1. You took the plunge 🙂 and it seem to have worked for you! That’s great! I think as YPs, we know we have a lot of priorities and even then we have to manage to prioritize between priorities! The best of times and the worst of times your twenties can be 🙂

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  4. ‘you’re nearing thirty and some of your best years to explore and build character and independence are well, almost behind you’
    I don’t believe that there is such a thing as the ‘best years’ – every age is the best year to explore and build character, and you never need to (and in fact shouldn’t) stop doing so.
    If a person really wants something, there is always a way, and it is possible to have a career AND travel regularly, and I know people with kids that travel, and those with a mortgage that travel.
    Kudos for exploring your home country too – something that a lot of travellers neglect to do.
    Enjoy that plunge into the abyss. It’s a scary but wholly rewarding experience – take it from someone who knows! 😛

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I need to surround myself with more people and travelers who think like you! 🙂 I like exploring my home country too there’s a lot to see here! It’s a bit scary at first going into the unknown…but so far so good! Thanks for the advice 🙂

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  5. I did my travelling after college. At 18, I spent 12 months on a working holiday in Australia. When I came back to England, I started my professional life.

    For years after I got back, I was stuck in the dilemma you describe. Do I buy a car, or go to Europe? Do I move out of my parents, or go to Thailand? Do I save for a mortgage, or go to America?

    I’m now settled in England and in a happy relationship. I have the car, I moved out of my parents, I’m saving for a mortgage. Will I regret my decisions in years to come? I don’t know.

    Luckily, I’ve managed to secure a job that is term time only. Hopefully this means I’ll still be able to fit in a bit of travelling around my ‘real life’.

    Great post 🙂 – I know so many ‘YPs’ who struggle with these decisions.

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    1. Wow what a though decision! I’m glad that you’re happy. I think it makes a difference when you have a happy relationship that can ground you in some ways. I have nothing of the sorts, thus I’m stuck in the dilemma…So far I’ve been figuring it out and things are going smoothly for now! The thing about making decisions is that you’ll never really know if you’re doing the right thing, until you live though it and that itself is an adventure in its own way I think! Thanks for your opinion 🙂 It’s very helpful to hear from someone who’s been there before!

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  6. Nice post! You make some great points! Traveling is something I think everyone should do! Although I’ve heard that traveling in your thirties can be a really cool experience, so it’s not the end-all of good, fun times when you reach that age 🙂

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  7. So true! So many of my friends back home with the careers and boyfriends and apartments say they are jealous of me for traveling so much…but I just made the decision that travel was the most important thing to me right now – at the expense of starting a career. It can be a hard decision no matter what you choose, but I know I’ll have time to start my career after I get the nomadic years out of my system. Plenty of people start their careers later in their twenties or thirties – look at all the film stars that started later! Anyway my motto is – if there’s a will there’s a way. So many people say they want to travel and don’t! I don’t want to regret that later! Nice reflective post =)

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  8. I understand approaching 30, it was a devastating age for some reason. Then I realized travel, any travel, whether it be business, leisure, far away or day trips from home, makes me happy at any age. Thanks for the post.

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  9. Thank you for this post! I too am on of the YP that you speak of, and it is definitely a challenge to take the plunge time and time again, but with the same outcome; worth it! 🙂 Adventure on!

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