To travel young and poor vs. old and rich

I was speaking with a male friend regarding my travels and how I wanted to see so much more of the world within the next few years.He said, quite logically and practically, that he would like to wait until he was older and established financially to travel.

“In your 20s you can pull off the all nighters.  Your mind and body are prepared for it.  It’s your 20s that you should work really hard for what you want.  That way, when I’m older I can travel anywhere and not worry about money or having a home.  I will already have all those things,” he says.

Happy Travels!  Monument Valley, Utah

His argument makes sense.  My parents will agree with it; career counselors would approve and my resume would look better if I thought that way too, but I don’t.

Here’s why:

  1. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
  2. If it were guaranteed, one must remember that travelling has the capacity to change your perspective and open your mind A LOT.  When you are young your mind is still in formation about many opinions you may have and thus willing to adapt more to the culture around you.  You can accept a growth in perspective more easily than when you are older.  Furthermore you potentially have more years to live with this newly acquired wisdom.
  3. How are you going to surf the huge waves of Puerto Escondido or climb up the highest pyramid at 70 years old?  Perhaps you will have amazing genetics and take really good care of your body and be able to do so , but again that is not guaranteed.
  4. There is so much of this world to see like South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and everything in between.  You should get started now.
  5. Traveling with little money is fun!  You get to know the country more because you have more interaction with the people.  Sure, when you are rich you can stay at the five star hotels and be pampered, but you’ll likely only take the safe tours with other tourists and shy away from meeting the actual people of the country because you’re older and perhaps more fearful of the native people taking advantage of you and stealing your retirement funds or identity.  When you’re young you have a lot less to lose so you stay at a hostel, meet other travelers and get the low down on the next places to visit on your adventure.  It’s a far more communal atmosphere that lends itself to meeting new people from different places.  Traveling from place to place for cheap means you get to travel with the people of the country and observe their culture in public settings.  When you have the money to, you may be more inclined to take taxis and thus isolate yourself a lot more.
  6. It’s a scientific fact that one can learn new things such as languages faster as a younger person than as an older person.
Another aspect I factor into this conversation might as well be another blog post all together but I’m a woman, and as such I feel like I only have a limited amount of time to myself and to be completely selfish before deciding to start a family.  I only have a certain time frame in which I could physically have children so I don’t have the luxury to put off things like backpacking the world until I’m 70.  I might be a grandmother then and perhaps not free enough to take off for a year on an adventure.
For the record: I have met plenty of older retired people traveling and they have told me to travel as much as I can when I’m young but they definitely seem to be enjoying their trips quite a bit and now can treat a young traveler like me to breakfast for conversation.  :)

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