So you just finished college. You’re about to take the next step forward, moving from the life of a student into the life of a professional. Maybe you studied abroad, maybe you didn’t, but you know you want to seek out adventure travel. You think it might be best to establish a career first, and then travel later. You’ll be more stable, you’ll have more money, you’ll know who you are, and you’ll appreciate travel adventures more because you’ve got things “figured out.” Good idea, right? Wrong!
All those things that make life worth living like sunrises and sunsets, new friends made during late nights around campfires, and in neon lit city streets, worn backpacks, stamped passports, and journals bursting with notes from adventures. That’s what you find in adventure travel, and you shouldn’t wait to seek it. Although counter-intuitive as a first step into a career, traveling as a recent grad is the perfect time to go for many reasons.
1. You’re Not Tied Down
You probably don’t have kids or pets to worry about. You might be living with your parents again (normal in this economy) or with a friend or two in an apartment, so you most likely don’t have a mortgage to pay off yet. You likely haven’t nailed down your dream job, and traveling before you start a new, maybe serious job allows you freedom to explore the world without the time constraints of vacation days.
2. You Can Be Selfish with Your Money
You most likely aren’t concerned about saving for a house yet, or retirement, or your children’s college educations. What little money you have is all yours to stretch as far as you can across the globe.
3. You Are Able Bodied and Resilient
It’s good to be quick on your feet while traveling. You can handle the stress of lost luggage or missed connections. You won’t mind sleeping in an uncomfortable hostel bunk bed. Well maybe you’ll mind, but your body will function just fine all the same. You can stay up late and wake up early and walk, swim, hike, and climb all day. You have the energy and drive to seek adventure.
4. You Can Make Connections
You want to meet new people, and your freshly finished university days have you well practiced in the social arts. Hostels are hot spots for young travelers, and many times you can band together with bunkmates to share in adventures. You might just make a lifelong friend, which may lead to future world travels. Maybe you’ll meet a guy from Sweden in Australia and next summer he’ll show you around Stockholm and introduce you to a friend who’s moving to the city where you live. Connections are important, and who knows, maybe they’ll be the path to that dream job!
When you decide to get a backpack and buy a one-way ticket to anywhere, adventure travel will help you put things in perspective. No matter where you go, you will see things. You will see that people live differently than you do. They eat different things, they talk differently, they wear different clothes, but they are all human and they are proud of where they come from, and meeting them will inevitably change you.
You might want to live differently after your eyes are opened by other cultures and places. When you get home, maybe you’ll be more inclined to live, work, or travel abroad again. It might change your professional goals. Maybe the meaningful work you yearn to do will come from an idea sparked by someone, or something, or somewhere that you haven’t yet found.
6. You Can De-stress
What traveling will do, most definitely, is help you to see your life in context of the whole world. You will see that petty problems don’t matter in the scheme of things. You will know, in some abstract inarticulate way, more about life itself. It might not be a big revelation, but while you are out in the world, you are absorbing everything and cogs are turning within you.
By choosing to travel while you are young, your horizons will be broadened rather than bogged down by the stresses of being ‘successful’ at home immediately after college. Plus, you probably need a break. You just earned a degree after working hard and studying for years. Wouldn’t some time to explore the world, and to reflect on what you just accomplished be pretty nice?
So please, travel now in your youth. You are as free and able-bodied as you will ever be, and you don’t know what you’ll find unless you look. As Jeff Johnson said in 180 Degrees South, “The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.”
The world is yours. Take it.