It’s so much easier to travel when you’re still young.
The time/money tension is an interesting one. You have more of the former and not enough of the latter when young. Meanwhile, you might have less of the former and more of the latter when old. But money, at least theoretically, is something you can always earn more of. Time is finite. Sure, you might have student loans weighing on your back, but you’re less likely to have a mortgage and/or a family to support.
And there’s no telling what your health might be like later on. In your 20s, you’re more likely to be physically up for roughing it on a budget, not having become used to luxuries.
Right, now, we’re on the eve of embarking on our whirlwind North American tour. As exciting as it is, it’s also going to be gruelling. We’re as young and energetic as we can ever expect to be, though that’s not saying much. We’re kind of oldies at heart. For example, we ended up getting a taxi (actually more economical than the train) after landing in KL rather than the cheap bus. After an 11 hour flight, T wasn’t up for any more discomfort, and after having gone through the equivalent of my own body mass in tissues up in the air, I was inclined to agree. And T is already carting around the body of an old man, thanks to old sports injuries, high level athletics, and physical work – which has held us back at times.
I have no idea what kind of shape we’ll be in when we’re middle-aged or retired, but I am pretty confident we wouldn’t have even the (limited) stamina we have right now. Further, I’m not sure we’d be comfortable dossing on floors and couches (physically or otherwise), HelpXing, Couchsurfing, or AirBnB-ing. But then again, who knows what might have cropped up in that regard in 20 years’ time?
Visas are another thing to take into account. As a New Zealand citizen, I’m lucky – we’re welcomed almost everywhere, and have visa waivers/exemptions in many countries. If you can swing it financially, fresh grads can move to the US to work and travel for a year as part of the snappily named New Zealand and Australia Twelve-Month Student Work and Recent Graduate Travel Program. If you’re 30 or under, there’s a dizzying array of countries offering working holiday visas, which to my understanding are virtually guaranteed – it’s just a matter of applying and paying the fee. Australians and New Zealanders seem to enjoy the most choices, but there are options for citizens of other countries, too.
For what it’s worth, the youth/under 26 discounts available to you might also be worth considering. We qualified for cheaper Eurail passes, an ISIC youth card, and other random discounts along the way.
An added benefit of travelling in our 20s is that it’s been a real growth experience. An invaluable experience. A life-shaping experience. I’m not sure we’d be as open-minded as we are now 20 or 30 years down the track; as receptive to new experiences and ideas. And let me tell you, if there’s one thing travel has taught me, it’s that I’m NOT as open-minded as I would like to think I am.
Travel is not for everyone. I’m not going to try to sell you on travel, if it’s not your cup of tea. And I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to wait to travel by any means, but if it’s a priority for you, there’s no time like the present.