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Not every person is ready to take their retirement at 24 years old. Most sane people are just starting their careers, just getting excited about the idea of adulthood. Not me. Pretty much from the time I graduated college I was only working for one reason: to save up enough money so I could stop working and go travel.
Is that healthy? I don’t know. Ever since I got my first taste of real international travel when I studied abroad in London my senior year of college, seeing the world has been an obsession. Like a true addict, the more I see, the more I WANT to see. And back in my early twenties I wanted it bad. Really bad.
A big part of my problem was obvious: I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. Aside from this burning desire to travel I felt exceptionally aimless. I had zero idea what I wanted to do career-wise, and I felt claustrophobic when I imagined sitting in a cube at some company I didn’t care about. I didn’t have the direction (or the money) to go to grad school. I had plenty of dates but nothing was going anywhere. I had a pretty robust social life, but I was seriously just living for the weekends. I wanted to shake things up pretty dang badly.
So I did. And along the way I learned that travel wasn’t exactly the perfect escape I envisioned. But it was so much more in the end.
Here’s why traveling early and often turned out to be the best decision I ever made:
I Found My Career
I was never one of those kids who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, but I’ve always liked to write. I decided to start a blog about travel simply to keep myself motivated. Nobody was more surprised than me that people actually wanted to read it! Over the years I persistently kept writing and honing my craft, and I’m slowly built a career as a self-employed travel writer.
If that sounds like a cinderella story, I promise it isn’t. Blogging is no quick path to riches, and I’ve gone through multiple career evolutions trying to make self-employment work. I’m still figuring it out. But I wake up every day excited to start work, not dreading it, and that’s pretty cool.
I Met My Husband
Part of the reason I had such a hard time dating in DC is that most men there were very career-oriented and simply didn’t know what to do with me. I wanted to rack up experiences, not career experience. I was a weirdo.
Which is why I really lucked out when I chanced a run in with another travel blogger. Like me, he wanted to see the world while he was young. He was impulsive and adventurous and kind of weird too. Before I even left on my RTW trip I’d found my ideal travel partner. Soon we were hopping from country to country together. Now, nearly 7 years later, we have a dog and a baby but we still love to travel.
This is totally a fluke, and there is no guarantee that travel will help your love life- in fact it probably hinders more relationships than it helps. That said, I never, ever, ever would have met Mike if I hadn’t started traveling.
I Found Myself
Wowee that sounds corny. It’s true though, and it’s a big part of why I’ve always been such a strong advocate of traveling while you’re young. Travel forces you to test yourself, to push your own boundaries and put yourself in new and uncomfortable situations. It encourages growth and reflection. Traveling solo, even when it’s scary, builds confidence and courage.
I went from being a picky eater to being a diehard foodie. From being super introverted to being… well better at faking I’m not. Thanks to travel I’m a braver person, I’m a stranger person. I’m a wiser person. I’m a person with Opinions, capital O, and I’m not afraid to own that.
Will this work the same for you? I don’t know. Probably not exactly. BUT I do think that when you choose to live deliberately, and you work to make your passions are part of your life, magic can happen. And who wants to wait when you could have that?