When I bring up one of my incredible adventures from living in Europe post-grad and traveling around the world, supported on a nanny’s salary, I sense disbelief.
I hear many older, and often considerably wealthier, friends/family/coworkers talk about how they are glad that they have been able to save up large amounts of money so that when they finally take their dream vacation it will be first-class luxury all the way.
Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but world travel is something that even if precisely planned down to a T, is full of unexpected surprises, some good, some not so good. But the majority of surprises that no amount of money can or even should control for. Surprise is the spice of life.
With an attitude of frugality, as a young person you can easily travel the world. However, if you wait to take that dream trip till you “have made it”, you might not only miss out on the opportunity of living in the now but also your expectations of your perfect vacation can radically skew your experience.
In general, I am a big proponent of traveling as much as possible; and also, I have come to the realization that even in a foreign currency: money does not buy happiness.
So here are a few recommendations for traveling while you are still young.
Budget travel is not a bad thing.
Do not splurge on a ritzy hotel where you will only be sleeping, hostels do the trick just fine. And who really needs to pay extra for checked luggage when a simple backpack works? Plus dragging three giant Louis Vuitton bags around the airport and through a new city is a sure way to start your vacation on the wrong foot. Travel simply, and often this means frugally.
Go with the flow.
Being flexible is easier when you have not planned for a trip for your entire lifetime. Relax and see things as they are not as you want them to be. Even if the weather is not perfect or the scenery is not the way you imagined, do not miss out on the opportunity to be adventurous and do something unexpected and new.
If not now, then when?
Sure you should be saving for a new car, investing in a 401k, and saving for your hypothetical future child’s college fund; but in reality if none of those are pressing needs…you need to start prioritizing the life experiences of world travel.
Go in with an open mind.
Being young, and not quite as cynical and jaded as our parents or grandparents, we do not posses as austere of pre-determined worldviews. To me, the purpose of travel is to learn and see new things, not to see what you already know, or what you think you know. As a part of the millennial generation, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to see more of the world because personal experience with foreign culture informs our international political, social, and economic views.
Value the experience over the price tag.
You can have just as much fun drinking 20-euro champagne on the banks of the Seine as you can sipping Dom Perignon from a private balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Just because the luxury leisure lifestyle might get you more Instagram likes does not mean that you are guaranteed a better time.
Even though you might not have all the money saved yet, start looking at flights. Book a trip and get out there. You won’t regret it. I promise.
Per usual, I’ll end with a quote.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”.
*Side note: to clarify Mark Twain does not recommend booking a completely out of budget vacation on your AmEx
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