Traveling the world at 28 means I often find myself surrounded by kids. Most travelers I meet are 19-22 and at an entirely different point in their lives. Yet, I don’t envy their youthful pursuits. I have found that traveling in your late 20s might just be the world’s best kept secret.
If the world were perfect, and money were no object, I would advise you to travel for a year after high-school and then again after graduating college. But, the world is far from perfect, student loans add up fast and societal pressures are a heavy burden to bear.
In many developed countries, it is a customary coming-of-age practice to take time off after graduating high school. It’s a time to find yourself, party too hard and learn to love your independence. This encouraged freedom is genius, it gives kids a chance to think about who they are and decide who they want to become, before making any life changing career decisions.
In the United States, it’s the exact opposite. We work hard in high school, get into a decent college and are then forced to make decisions that will impact the rest of our life – our major, our degree, our career. All we’ve done during our short lives is go to school. We’ve had very little first hand exposure to the world and yet we are making decisions that will stick with us for a lifetime. Logical? I think not. But, it’s the societal norm in the United States to go straight from high school to college, and societal pressure is powerful.
For those of us who took the school-first-find-myself-later path in life, fear not, because traveling in your late twenties may just be the best thing to ever happen to you.
You won’t be hungover every morning.
Unlike the kids who are wasting their money drinking every night of the week, you are actually awake before 9:00am and you usually have the energy to see a few sights, maybe even climb a mountain. This means, you will be saving money and you will always have someone around to party with if the mood strikes you.
You will be given jobs because you are “responsible.”
The best way to live like the locals is to get a job in a foreign country. Lucky for you, your age makes you seem like the more responsible choice for hiring, which makes sense if you believe in the truth behind the first point regarding hangovers.
I have been chosen for jobs and housing accommodations simply because I am older than 25. Your age is an asset, learn how to make the best of it.
You won’t take anything for granted.
Until now, you’ve lived your life by the book. You have been working your butt off since you were old enough to know about the importance of college. And, since graduating college you have been working to pay off your student loans. You’ve sat at a desk, stared at a computer screen for too long. Now it’s your turn to see the world.
Because you know what the “real world” is like, you will appreciate your life of freedom in a way that only a person in their late 20s can. It may be as simple as finding joy in tasting your morning cup of caffeine, rather than inhaling it as you drive to work. The sunsets will seem more glorious. The hikes will be transcending.
You know most of your friends are still sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen and you know your life is so much better right now. Soak it in.
You’ve made a dent in your student loan debt.
The average American student graduates college with at least $30,000 in loans. For a recent grad, traveling is out of the question. But, you have been working for the past five years and being the responsible person you are, have cracked away at some of that debt. You have the ability to see the world without worrying about debt collectors when you decide to go back home.
If you haven’t been able to make a dent in your student loan debt, don’t fret, you could always get a Working Holiday Visa from Australia or New Zealand and earn money while you travel the world. Get creative, there are countless people making money writing e-books, selling their photography, exporting goods or teaching English abroad. Don’t let student loan debt be the only thing holding you back from seeing the world.
You will be more open to new experiences.
You’ve been around the block a couple times. You are mature enough to admit that there are things in the world that you don’t know. So, you will be more apt to try new things. You will see the value in being open to new experience. You want to grow, learn, and experience what the world has to offer.
If you would have told me at 21 that I would be enrolling in a 10 day, 100 hour, Buddhist meditation course that required participants to be silent, I would have laughed at you – but I’ve been filling out my application all day and I cannot wait to get to know myself better.
See the world!