1. Time is Our Only Real Asset:
I know a lot of people I went to school with have been fed the same garbage I was, since I was a small child (not by my parents but by society as a whole). "You can be whatever you want to be... until you realize that you can't and now you need to get a real job and start making a living for yourself". While obviously it's true that most of us will not be movie stars, and astronauts, and at some point we have to accept this inevitability; it doesn't mean we can't lead lives outside 9-5, 401k, and social security. As we start to grow older and come to the conclusion that maybe our childhood fantasies aren't realistic it seems a lot of us unfortunately settle. We don't realize that we can adjust our dreams, we don't have to give up on them all together. Now this is not to say my lifestyle is glamorous, and I have a lot more I want to do and accomplish, but the first step was breaking away from where I was. That doesn't mean you have to move to another continent, but move somewhere. If you've been with the same company for ten years and you see another 30 in your future and that scares the shit out of you... quit. Money isn't everything and saving a bunch of it won't make you happier. You can buy almost everything you want with enough money, but you can't by back your youth. You can't take back the time you spent in the office instead of on the beach, or in the mountains, or kayaking down the river. The key is having enough faith in yourself and your skill set that you are confident you can get work elsewhere. You may have always wanted to live in Colorado in the mountains, but you've got seniority at your office. I implore you take the pay cut and take a chance to go somewhere new. That way when you do get to spend your free time, you're doing it somewhere you love (and weed is legal there so, bonus!).
2. Traveling Helps You Learn About Yourself:
"You think you know, but you have no idea." Anyone from my generation knows this iconic line from the Real World, but nothing makes life more real than venturing out to find yourself. You think you love chain restaurants and comfortalbe seating, until you've pushed your way through a eclectic night market shoving food into your mouth off a paper plate trying not to get knocked over. You think you know your coffee of choice, until you come to a place where coffee is an art form. A place where no one drinks "drip", and you are quickly educated on the subtle yet vital differences (and not everything is fucking pumpkin flavored). Most importantly, you think you know who you are and have some idea of your boundaries. That is until you start to say yes to things, and end up on a back alley adventure, or stumble into a random bar to see ten trannys walking around in Christmas attire, with one lip synching Maria Carey's "I don't want a lot for Christmas". You think you know, but you have no idea...
3. Traveling Opens the Boundary of Your Comfort Zone:
Believe it or not I'm not much of a risk taker and I happen to like my little safety bubble like the rest of us. But when you travel you meet people who will change your perspective on life and how it is meant to be lead. You realize there are things more important than money, and security, like adventure and experience. These people are the 20-somethings, who lead a life of invincibility, to them there is no tomorrow, no bad decisions in the past, only the present. I still struggle to live my life in the moment as much as some people I've met, but you can be sure I'm doing a lot better than I was before.
4. You Never Know What Opportunities May Present Themselves:
When you make a decision to stop leading your "normal life" and start traveling you open yourself up to a world you never knew existed before. If you are usually not so great in social situations you can start to push the boundaries of the norm. Any kid who's ever moved as a child knows, that it's kind of nice to be able to push the reset button on who you are. You can reinvent yourself into the type of person you've always wanted to be. Well take that, and multiply it by a 1000 when it comes to traveling. Not every person who sets out to see the world is an adventurer, but when you talk to people on the road you see who they really are, not who they've been trained to be by habit and circumstance. And by opening yourself up and communicating and meeting as many new people as possible you never know what could happen. I've met so many people from around the world out here I have places to stay all over Europe should I ever chose to backpack my way out there. I've also met people who've gotten jobs, started exciting new relationships, and made tons of new life long friendships, it's all out there you just have to be open to it.
5. Worst Case Your Job Will Be There When You Get Back:
Obviously this isn't always the case, but for most of us in our early to mid-20's right now is the time where if you do have an office job you will be starting to work your way up, which basically means you're at the bottom. And while experience is good, don't take for granted the fact that some employers value life experience just as much as work experience. Best case scenario, you have a year or two sabitcal and come back to your old job where your boss loves the fact that you've seen the world and wants you to lead his/her new division. Worst case, you get a job doing the same thing you were doing before you left, but now you have some life experience under your belt. You have a better understanding of people and the way the world really is. You can then use all this new found practical knowledge, and you make your way up through the ranks faster than if you had stayed put in the first place, and you got to see the world.
6. The Future is Uncertain:
Every day there is another engagement or baby popping up on my Facebook feed. Everyday someone has passed the Bar Exam, or gotten their real estate license, or got that promotion. From what I've come to realize the two biggest things that hold us back from packing up and going, are fear of the unknown, and complacency/success. Fear of the unknown obviously being, what will happen if I leave all this security behind, I have a good job, making decent money and potentially a bright future. Complacency and success aren't usually used together, but this would quantify a number of things from promotions, to engagements, to babies, whatever comes along in our life that makes us feel as if we need to be complacent where we are.
"Well I can't leave now I'm up for that promotion."
"We've been dating for three years, it's probably time to get engaged, but I can't travel and be worried about a wedding."
"O shit, we're pregnant."
Now where the last reason may be a valid reason to stay put (or in some cases to get the next plane out of town), there's a number of reasons we rationalize why we have to stay in our current situation. But the future is uncertain, your company could fold, your significant other could leave you, and maybe that baby doesn't look very much like you. The point is if you keep making excuses about what could happen you will miss opportunities to make things happen yourself.
So get out there! If you've always wanted to hike K-2 go for it, if Australia is your dream destination, meet me here and we'll go for a drink. If you have no idea where you want to go, spin a globe put your finger down, and book the next flight out of dodge. The longer you wait the more things you will accumulate that will be harder to leave behind. It's easy to break a lease, it's a lot harder when you have a mortgage. Just take a risk, fly by the seat of your pants, and know that everything you leave behind will still be there, if/when you choose to come back. The world is out there for you to explore, you just have to go... now!