That’s the biggest question, isn’t it.
I’ve been asked it hundreds of times. By classmates, friends, my parents, other adults who grew up in the age of having to request-by-mail maps and tour guides.
We’re 20-somethings. We’re university students, first-time employees, low-budget and low-time people. How on earth do we find the money, time or energy to travel? How do we make these trips happen? Here’s a few ideas to get you started and inspired.
- Don’t let them tell you no. Your school will tell you it’s difficult. Mine asked me to write essays and petition the administration. You might apply to a program and get a “we’re sorry” rejection email. You might get lucky with parents that support you or you might not. Even if it’s not outright disapproval, deep down, there are a whole lot of people out there who think our generation should be saving for the future instead of spending on seeing the world. Whoever they are and whatever the obstacles, believe in yourself and don’t let their “no’s” discourage you.
- Dedicate yourself. If there is something you truly want to do, do it. Don’t spend your life re-blogging or pinning future travel sites and then give up trying to go to them with the simplest “I don’t have the (you fill in the blank).” Quietly dedicate yourself to planning your adventures, and don’t loose sight of your plans.
- Plan. Planning means using sites like Rome2rio, Skyscanner, Studentuniverse, Holiday Pirate, Hostel World, Airbnb, Hostels.com, Couchsurfing, Eurail, Flixbus. It means looking into programs like Workaway, WOOFing, Interning abroad, every study abroad option out there (there are millions). It will take you forever and often it does get overwhelming. Take a break, then go back to planning. Spontaneous travel is really fun, but planned adventures are more likely to actually happen.
- Save. I mean it. Sit down with yourself and think about all the things you want to do and then think about all the things you want to own. Which are more important to you? A huge pet peeve of mine is when friends complain about how they don’t have the money to travel and then show up to class with a new wardrobe and large Starbucks coffee. ‘Work hard play hard’ is much more fun when you’re in the “play” phase, but life can be so cool if you succeed in saving for the play.
- Make decisions with your dreams in mind. That means if you want to travel, make sure your university of choice says they’ll allow you to do it. If you want to do one long trip, maybe don’t take that short Spring Break one. Maybe don’t give into your deep desire to have a kitten in your new apartment if you also have a deep desire to spend 6 months in France. Schedule your university courses with travel in mind — maybe take the required ones first so you can take those gen-ed requirements when you’re abroad and it’s harder to transfer back the upper level courses.
- Google search like your life depends on it. Read the blogs, follow the travel Instagram. Some of my best discoveries have been made because I saw the sight on a blog or because a hostel friend recommended it. Indulge your dreams but then act on them.
And above all, remember that you are no less of a person if you do not succeed in going abroad or backpacking across the world. Perhaps you find something else that makes you want to stay stable and grounded. Perhaps you realize that you prefer short term group trips to the uncertainty of study abroad or solo treks. Maybe you find that the things you love at home are more important to you than exploring.
While I believe that traveling is important when we’re young, it does not define a person. If the travel bug doesn’t bite or if it just doesn’t work out — the world needs all types of people.