After 19 years of being a full time student, there are only 3 days left until I graduate college and finish school forever. I’m 21 years old, and assuming I live till 100, I have 79 years left to live. Now I could take the normal route and go straight into a career, spending 40 hours a week for the next 40 years of my life working up to the moment when I finally get to retire and live out my travel dreams, or I can live them out now.
Its something a lot of people want to do but that few people have the guts to. And not because its hard to do, but because like so many things that are off the beaten path, it seems mysterious and risky. It may be mysterious, but there aren’t as many risks as you’d think. I think its riskier to get stuck in one career for 40 years- that just sounds like a horror. Sure it’d be exciting for a while, but 40 years is a long time. And with each year that passes, you get more and more settled in, buy more things for nicer and bigger apartments and homes, take on more debt, start a family, until leaving to travel becomes a long lost dream. If that isn’t compelling enough, here are a few reasons to travel right after college.
1) It looks great on a resume.
If you are dead set on getting into a stable career, you may want to put it on hold for a few months while you buff up your resume with some traveling experience. Traveling helps you grow as a person, learn to interact with people of different cultures and different points of view, fend for yourself, budget, and sometimes learn languages. Between your resume and a similar resume of a person who hasn’t traveled, yours wins.
2) You can still take advantage of your student status.
Sure you graduated, but you’re still young. You can get all kinds of student discounts on everything from train tickets to food and movies. There are organizations that are geared specifically toward helping college-aged people find jobs abroad. And that is a great compromise if you are worried about money or if there is pressure on you to get a job immediately- why chose one? Choose a job in a beautiful foreign country and you’ll be making money while living out your dreams. You can also look for travel scholarships and grants, though these are harder to get.
Hostels are made for young people too; they are cheap accommodation, dorm-style, so take advantage of them before you get used to living in your own home with a luxurious private bathroom.
3) You are free!
The main theme of your life for 2 decades has been school. It is supposed to be your number one priority, and now, suddenly, it is over. Like a relationship, take some time off when one part of your life ends before launching yourself full-force into the next part. You don’t need to get a job right away- there will be just as many jobs when you return from your 2 month-long or 2 year-long journey. And if you travel you will be more experienced and better able to land a good job.
Don’t let student loans be an excuse to stop you either. Consider deferring your loans; it may require some work but many volunteer programs, for example, are great excuses for loan deferral. The Peace Corps is one, but there are plenty of other options that don’t require a two-year commitment. One of my best friends now is in Washington DC with a year-long volunteer program and has been able to defer her loans. And of course, there is still the option to just get a job abroad and start paying off the debt right away.
4) You meet wonderful people.
In volunteer programs, at a job, in bars, 30 feet underwater in full scuba gear- you’ll meet amazing people like yourself that want to embrace the world and enjoy their time on it, not just sit behind a desk for 40 years. You’ll make life long friends from around the world- which is great in itself, but it also means you can get more cheap travel later in life when they let you stay in their guest bedroom with your family for a week. The perks of friendship!
5) Youll regret it if you dont.
You just will. There is no getting around it. If you desperately want to travel, but don’t, and never do, its a recipe for a mid-life crisis. Don’t let yourself be that person at your 10-year reunion who puts on a smile while talking about their steady job and the raise they just got, but who gets intense pangs of what-if while listening to a classmate who has volunteered in 15 countries. So many older people who have jumped right into their careers from college say that one of their biggest regrets is not traveling first. Take a word from the wise: travel now. You are young and independent, and there is a whole world out there to explore. Travel after college. Its now or never.
To learn how to travel for free (for real!) using the methods I’ve been using for years, download my eBook, “How to Become the Jack of All Travel: A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling the World for Free. If you’ve ever wanted to travel, now is your chance to seize the day! Don’t let the opportunity pass you by. The book is cheap and you’ll more than make up for it in the money you’ll save (and earn!) on your future travels using the techniques you’ll learn.