The world is opening up faster than we can imagine – countries such as Myanmar, Cuba and Colombia, which were previously closed off to visitors, are opening their borders; people are traveling more with every new chance at adventure and exploration. Most of these travelers are straight out of college or university, taking either a few months or a gap year to explore the world, to gain experience in the most amazing way possible. But for some people, it isn’t that easy to take the plunge; for some, it takes a while – maybe until they are settled into their twenties or beyond – to decide to travel. Personally, I believe that this is a great thing: you leave on your travels at a time when you are more self aware, when you have more money and when you know how to appreciate every single moment for what it is. Below are five reasons why it is more than okay to wait until your slightly older to follow your wanderlust.
So, the chances are that you’ve wanted to travel for a long time, but life has gotten in the way. First it’s school, then a job, and then family and social commitments. The years since you’ve graduated slide by less than gracefully until you find yourself in your twenties. You begin to realize that if you want to travel, you have to make it happen. You have to book that damn ticket and just go. You’ve waited so long for this moment that as soon as you start to live your travel dreams, you appreciate every single moment; the roar of the Tuk Tuks, the howl of the monkeys in the jungle, the quiet sound of silence in the mountains. You appreciate it all, because you’ve waited your life to experience it and you couldn’t feel more lucky to finally be living your dream.
2. Culinary Delights
One of the greatest things about traveling is experiencing different foods; we can all agree that this is the case. No matter what age you are, you want to taste culinary treats from around the world: Malaysian Curries, Thai Noodles, Peruvian Ceviche, Bugs and Spiders sold along the street side – you try it all. But in your late twenties, your taste in food has most likely evolved. You know the balance of what makes a perfect meal and you seek out where to find the best street food, the most flavorful curry or the freshest fish; heck, you might even catch it yourself. Don’t be surprised when you start telling your friends and family about all your amazing food experiences or when you note down recipes that take you back to your travels. Food suddenly becomes more about how good it tastes rather than how cheap it is.
3. Money = Time
So, you have found yourself in your twenties: you have finished school; you have a real job; you have commitments; you may even have a house (possibly renting, because who can afford to buy these days?!). You have more income than you have ever had in your life. Why shouldn’t you save and travel now? Jobs can be left, sabbaticals can be taken, houses can be rented (or sub-letted) and cars can be sold. If you decide to travel in your twenties, the chances are that you will be able to travel further and for longer periods of time, since you will have much more money than you did when you were fresh out of university. More money means that you can experience so much more: do you want to bungee jump in New Zealand? Cage Dive with Sharks in Australia? Learn to surf in Bali? Jump into the devils pool in Zambia? Well you can when you have the disposable income for it. All it takes is the courage to jump out of your normal routine and believe that it will all be okay. Take your money and spend it on an experience instead of material belongings – it’s something that you won’t regret.
4. Exploration/Party Balance
Who doesn’t love a party?! Partying is part of a lot of traveling experiences from the Full Moon extravaganza on Koh Phangan to Volcanic Island hideaways in Nicaragua; when a group of travel lovers get together, beer and laughter will soon follow. Some of the backpacker trails have more of a party vibe than others. South East Asia, for example, will have you dancing until dawn, which is great! But as you get older, you realize (albeit grudgingly) that days on the beach are much better spent exploring further afield – without a hangover (which get worse with every year you turn older). Saying no to a huge night out in order to climb a volcano the next day doesn’t seem like such a painful decision these days; although the party is good now, the next day could be even better and there’s no way you want to miss out on that.
5. Solo travel, baby!
It’s no secret that confidence grows as you get older. As every year passes, you become more comfortable in your own skin. You start to love the person who you are, who you can be. The nineteen-year-old you would give you a high-five if they could see what a self-assured person you’ve become. As you become more confident, it becomes easier to stretch your wings and fly solo; you are more willing to talk to strangers, eat and grab a beer on your own and navigate your own way across countries and continents solo. You know yourself to understand what your limits are, how to push them and how to spend your time traveling doing only what you want to do. It’s incredibly refreshing to be on your own traveling. You leave commitments at home and can suddenly focus on yourself; it’s that feeling of self assurance that reminds us that it’s okay to be alone. In fact, it’s liberating. To know that you can return home more confident than when you left is a wonderful feeling.
Traveling the world is something that can be enjoyed at any age. It holds no prejudice of how long it took you to get to where you are or where you’re going. If you’ve waited a long time to go and you’re debating on whether it’s too late, it’s not. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. There are always options, loopholes and gateways. You just have to have the courage to follow them through; it’ll be the most amazing adventure of your life.