Many of my friends in their twenties are on Facebook posting pictures of their engagement rings or wedding photo’s. Others are posting photo’s of their new houses that they just signed a mortgage for or their pregnant bellies.
As a nomad in my twenties, my Facebook posts look a bit different.
I have pictures of myself skydiving, volcano boarding, and scuba diving in vastly different countries around the world. Instead of honeymoon photo’s, I have pictures in beautiful destinations with new friends that I met along the way. Instead of buying a house, I have a backpack that carries the only possession that I need. Instead of a baby in my belly, I have a ‘food baby’ conjured up from a variety of ethnic dishes.
When people look at my pictures of me walking the streets of Japan, or going on a Safari in Sri Lanka, they tell me that I am so lucky – and I am. But the truth is that to travel the world in your twenties there are some sacrifices that you have to make and the pressures of society will begin to creep in.
Therefore, I have created a realistic list of pro’s and cons of being a nomad in your 20’s to show you that it is not as much about luck, but about what you are willing to sacrifice.
I always travel in the most financially responsible way possible – staying at hostels, taking local chicken buses ect. However, without a doubt traveling costs money. Most people with the travel bug save up their pay cheques for their next adventure – not the next down-payment on a house. Wanderlust often prevents one from saving for a more ‘adult’ investments.
If you really want to save up money and still travel there is a way – working! A great option if you want to start saving and still travel is to work abroad as an English Teacher. I worked as an English Teacher in South Korea and made enough money to comfortably live and travel, while also saving money. win, win!
Many countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, offer working holiday visa’s so that you can work while traveling. The most common working holiday jobs in these countries are as fruit pickers or in the restaurant industry.
Keeping a relationship is hard when you are a traveler. Sometimes you will meet someone special in a country that you are temporarily living in or visiting – and you leave before you have a chance for your relationship to truly develop. If you are lucky enough to stay in a place for a long enough time to grow a strong relationship, chances are that you still have the travel bug and want to move abroad again. Aint no one can tame your gypsy soul!
I have seen a lot of long distance relationships in my day and more often than not they don’t work out – but that’s not to say that it’s not possible. I have observed that the relationships that do work are with people who have made a commitment to each other (already engaged or married) before they move away. So put a ring on it before you board the plane!
They always say that to love someone, you have to love yourself first. Traveling really is the best way to get to know yourself and grow your self confidence. Once you learn how to make yourself happy, you won’t rely on a relationship for that – allowing you to only settle if it’s worth it to you.
Through my travels I have met many, many wonderful friends who I love very dearly. Without traveling I would never have had the chance to meet them. Unfortunately, this means that my friends are scattered all over the world. I haven’t seen some of my best friends in over two years due to distance. I would give anything to have all of my friends living in one place!
Another con of travel is that after a few months of traveling it can become exhausting meeting new people. You will find that the conversation when you meet someone new traveling always starts out the same, “Where are you from? How long have you been traveling for?” After a year of traveling you can see how this would become repetitive.
You will not only miss your travel friends, but your friends back home – when living abroad you will have to go even longer without seeing them. Technology now days it makes it a lot easier to stay in touch – but let’s face it, video chat isn’t the same as drinking sangria on the beach together. Video calls are missed because you calculated the time difference wrong, or a bad internet connection. Even if you manage to easily keep in touch, you won’t be able to celebrate their birthdays with them or bring them a tub of ice cream when they go through a breakup.
I can’t even begin to sum up all the amazing friends that I have made through my travels. Some of these people come into your life for one amazing week and others stick with you for a lifetime. I like to believe that people come into our lives for reason. There is so much to learn from people from different countries, cultures, and religions. All of these encounters have truly helped shape who I am.
Another great benefit is that once you develop friends from different countries – you have more reasons to travel! Nothing beats staying with a good friend in their home country and having them show you the life of a local. I have literally stayed in with friends in the following countries; Hong Kong, Dubai, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, England, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. I’m not saying this to brag – but to show you all of the possibilities!
Holidays and Big Life Moments
I have spent three Christmas’ away from home and have missed three best friend’s weddings. Enough said?
Nothing will be like Christmas at home so embrace that and move on. Instead create new holiday memories. While living in Korea (a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas) I was dreading Christmas day because I thought that it would be depressing and lonely. I was away from my family and there was no snow or anything ‘Christmasy’ around (I’m from Canada so I’m used to it looking like the North Pole).
I decided to keep myself occupied so that I wouldn’t think about it. On Christmas morning I volunteered at an orphanage by helping put on a Christmas party for the children. With my friends, we painted children’s faces, decorated cookies, and sang Christmas carols. To be honest, I think we had more fun than the children. To me this was what Christmas was all about – spreading love and holiday cheer.
What I thought would be one of my most depressing Christmas’ actually ended up being a beautiful day and a great memory.
When living in a foreign country the simplest of things, such as going for a haircut, become very challenging. You will simplify your life because you cannot be bothered to try and find a dentist that speaks English or figure out how a phone plan works. However, when you do manage to make an appointment all by yourself – you feel incredibly proud (it is honestly shocking how accomplished I felt when I went to my first doctors appointment on my own in South Korea).
You will also miss the food that you used to eat back home and will be messaging your friends to mail you boxes of Gold Fish Crackers and jars of Nutella.
If you are backpacking around, eventually you miss routine. I know – shocking! I’ll admit that it takes me a long time to miss routine, but eventually it does happen…eventually. Living out of a backpack and jumping from bed to bed gets exhausting after a while. Sometimes you just want your own bed, closet and a little bit of routine (and a steady pay-check doesn’t hurt).
While traveling, your possessions are whatever you can carry on your back. This is a very liberating feeling. We live in a society obsessed with having the next hot item and trendy clothes. When all you have are the clothes that can fit in a bag, you realize how insignificant material items are.
My most memorable and amazing moments in life have occurred when I was traveling – and I can promise you I wasn’t wearing Louis Vuitton heels.
As an extra bonus you don’t have to run boring adult errands, such as grocery shopping, washing the car, or going to the dentist. Actually, maybe you should still go to the dentist.
While your friends are taking their first important steps in their careers – you are off traveling.But who would you rather be? The one at their desk with a computer screen saver of a tropical island – or the one sitting on the tropical island?
Better to take this time out now before you get too deep into a career and can’t get out. Take this time for personal development and learn skills such as thinking on your feet, diversity and inclusion, cultural fluency, independence, decision making, networking…
Most jobs I applied for asked for communications skills – and there is no better way to develop communication skills than to meet and converse with a diverse array of people from around the world.
You have thirty plus years to work – taking a year to travel won’t end your career.
When traveling you meet a lot of people, but your time together is often fleeting. Some days you are surrounded by great people but when you do find yourself alone, you are really alone.
You’re not just alone with a bucket of ice cream curled up at home in front of the television feeling sorry for yourself. You are in a foreign country where no one speaks the same language as you and you wouldn’t even know where to get a bucket of ice cream if you wanted one.
When traveling you get the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people. Chances are that both you and the people you meet won’t have a group of friends, which gives you no other option than to quickly befriend one another. The bonds you make with people while traveling happen much quicker than they do at home. Once you meet someone traveling, you will bond quickly by exploring a new city together and eating meals with one another. You will get to know each another in no time…and potentially gain a new best friend.
Do you have any pros and cons of travel during your twenties that you would like to add? Share in the comment section below!