Whenever I am contemplating my next trip – whether it’s a week away, a month abroad, or a three-month internship across the world – what I hear the most from people is, “If you don’t go now, you won’t go later,” or “You’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t go,” or even recounting their own experience with a wistful, “I always said I would travel one day, and I never did.” And perhaps these things are true. Life speeds up. Priorities shift. All of a sudden, your dreams of seeing the world are at the bottom of a list that includes advancing your career and having kids. Next thing you know, you’re dreaming of travel-filled retirement, hoping that maybe then, you can fulfill your lifelong dreams.
While it’s never too late to travel, there are definitely advantages to going while you’re young.
The world has a lot to teach you. While you’re young, you’re often more malleable and impressionable. If you learn these lessons early on, you will carry them with you for the rest of your life. There is often nothing more eye-opening than traversing borders and seeing both the hardships and triumphs of others. You will learn that despite language and cultural barriers, despite living in different timezones, despite oceans of distance, we’re really not all that different.
Whatever barriers are running through your head, you have your whole life ahead of you to figure it out. Last week, I wrote that if you’re a born traveller, even if you don’t have the money, you will find a way to go. When you’re young, you may be craving security and stability. You may say to yourself that you just don’t have the money right now, that you should graduate first, wait a couple of years to get on your feet, and then travel. The truth is, that if you travel on a budget now, in ten, twenty years, you won’t be thinking about the money you spent – you’ll remember all of the experiences you had. No good stories start with the one time you made a wise financial decision. That being said, travel within your means! It’s more than possible to have your cake and eat it too.
If you’re one of the ones that did wait, and have always felt a sense of regret, do it now! What’s stopping you? There will always be reasons not to go. The important part is finding the reason to go, and sticking to it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and at the end of the day, you’ll be happy that you made the commitment to yourself to live life on your own terms, even if only for a brief period. It’s never too late start a new adventure, and you should always be on the lookout for new experiences and opportunities to learn.
At the end of the day, if you can’t go now, there will always be opportunities if you keep your ears and eyes open. Turning down one chance to travel doesn’t mean that you’re giving it up for life. If it’s something that’s important to you, you’ll make it happen one day somehow.