If You’re Young, Why Are You Still Here?

14.March 2011

Our Journey

Photo Credit: Matt Hintsa

It has struck me lately that, if I were younger, I would do things a lot differently than I am doing them right now.

Operation Responsibly Irresponsible is in full swing and will see us moving to Calgary at the beginning of April to start new jobs, make new friends, and try out a new way of living as we save as much money as we can before moving out-of-country.

We’re not saving to be able to travel; I think we could make enough money while traveling to sustain ourselves. We’re saving to be able to set ourselves up after we travel. We’re not young and, one day, we’ll need to be able to take care of ourselves at retirement…whatever that is going to look like.

And so, my point. If I were younger I wouldn’t be waiting it out here….I would be out there. I think if you’re young there are a ton of things  you can do to be traveling right now!

What are you waiting for? You have a bazillion years before you’re old and have to worry about retirement. Are you married? Have children? Take them with you. Have a house/condo/townhouse? Sell it. A job? Quit it. Debt? Well, I do believe you have a responsibility to your debt but fill that hole quickly for crying out loud!!

The one thing you have that is worth more than anything is time. Don’t squander it, waste it, spend it on worthless sh*t, or undervalue it.

What? You don’t have enough money saved? Well, you can work while you travel. You’ll likely make enough to fund your travels; especially if you’re traveling in Asia and/or South America. You’ll certainly make enough to limit the draw on your savings as you travel.

There are other benefits too. If you’re working, you are more likely to be part of the community; either the local community if the work is local based, or the traveler community if the work is more tourism based. If you’re part of the community you are likely to learn more of, from and about that community. If you’re working, you are more likely to be living locally and traveling more slowly which gives you the opportunity to know the neighborhood and understand its ebb and flow.

Here are some ideas:

  • Teach English. You may need a TEFL certificate or a university degree…or you may not.
  • Seasonal work (farm work, fruit picking, sheep shearing etc)
  • Tour guide. The guides we met in Berlin were Americans with German history degrees…maybe your education can help you too?
  • Hostel work
  • Sling beer at a local beer joint.
  • Waiter/Waitress
  • Dive Instructor
  • Ski Instructor

Another reason to work and travel while you’re young is because it becomes more difficult to get a working visa as you get older. Many countries hand out under-35 working visas like their candy but, if your over 35, it can be much more difficult.

It’s your choice; you can work at home and try to save money to start traveling…or you can start traveling and work to keep yourself on the road. I know I make it sound as though it’s so easy and I get that it’s not but what if you didn’t have to stay home quite so long to save quite as much money? Just think about it that’s all I’m saying.

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17 Responses to “If You’re Young, Why Are You Still Here?”

  1. Keith Sutter Says:

    Gillian I agree with you, but will rasie the bar a bit. If you are young recent college/university grad and you are having a tough time finding work here in North America you should seriously look into professional positions abroad. While teaching English is a great option, what about working for a local Thai company that is trying to open up the US market, or working in Singapore to develop an Asian office for a startup company based in the UK? When you are young you have the benefit of time and ability to get by a limited income, why not use that to your advantage, take some risks, and get experiance that will set you apart from your peers that choose to sit home polishing thier resumes waiting for the economy to turn around.

  2. flip Says:

    possibility is endless especially now due to technology… we could all work remotely… just to add… people can also take on online jobs :-)
    flip recently posted..Meet the Nomads- Barbara Weibel

  3. Kim Says:

    Gillian… which countries hand out under-35 working visas? Do you have a list because i would kill for it! I found out too late about the under-30 working visas in New Zealand and Australia. But I’m not too old for that under 35 gig.
    Kim recently posted..Bumps on the road to our RTW

  4. Natalie - Turkish Travel Says:

    The one thing that stopped me when I was young was that I really did believe I have all the time in the world. It was not until quite a few years later that I realised life really does pass you by in a flash.
    Natalie – Turkish Travel recently posted..The Circus Comes To Town

  5. Matt Says:

    At what age should one draw the line in the sand and say OK, I need to think more about retirement than travel? I definitely hear what you are saying here and for us with our sabbatical we’re definitely saving enough to be able to integrate back into our current life if that is what we end up choosing but I’m secretly hoping other options will present themselves over the course of the year that allow us to alter our course. I guess I haven’t really thought too much about retirement as maybe I am under the misguided feeling that I have plenty of years left to increase that retirement pot. But if I were to listen to financial advisors (and maybe I should start) I’m way behind in growing that pot to where it should be.
    Matt recently posted..A Sabbatical Prescription for Stress – Part 1

  6. Ayngelina Says:

    You know I actually think it’s easier for me that I waited. I built a career and socked a bunch of money into my RRSPs and then I had enough money that I could leave my job, travel comfortably, but also know that if I had to I could come back to a job.

    While I agree people make too many excuses, I don’t regret waiting otherwise I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Not cut out for Colca Canyon

  7. Earl Says:

    I’ve always thought it better to get out there on the road as quickly as possible because as soon as you do, you tend to find yourself exposed to a world of opportunities that you simply would never come across if you just stayed at home. You’ll learn about ways to travel longer and to earn money while traveling and you’ll start networking with like-minded people who are working to achieve the same goals.

    On the other hand, I think it is perfectly reasonable for some people to wait a little longer while trying to save up money before their trip. The only problem with this method is that many who choose this route tend to eventually give up on their travel dreams as it becomes far too easy to find excuses not to leave year in and year out.
    Earl recently posted..When Tourism Goes Terribly Wrong

  8. Andrew Says:

    I heard something recently (or read, umm internet reading mixing with movies is odd) that the most scarce resource when you are under 30 and single is sex. Though over 30 it switches to time like you say.
    I’ll agree comepletely with “Go out and do it”. I moved to Germany at 29 and don’t regret it(often). Though even now I see someone mention workvisas for under 35′s in NZ and think, “ummm maybe”.
    Neat article.
    Andrew recently posted..Expat Life- The Benefit of Languages

  9. Ayngelina Says:

    I actually should really caveat what I said as I think it was misleading. After university I moved to the Philippines for 9 months and traveled through South East Asia so I think I did it while I was young, worked ten years and then did it again.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Not cut out for Colca Canyon

  10. Liv Says:

    Ha! I did it sort of the way Ayngelina did (except spent about 10 years travelling, then a few years in my home country and am now on the road again)
    I can see the advantages to both approaches. I definitely don’t regret travelling while I was younerg and had no responsibilities though (this is the voice of an older me who now has a mortgage!) I think the danger of putting things off and one day realising that you never got around to them though, is a very real danger.
    Liv recently posted..Queensland Roadtrip

  11. Matt at LivingIF.com Says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, travel is best while young. My wife and I recently wrote about it (http://www.livingif.com/he-said-she-said-traveling-young/) and how the benefits of travel such as flexibility, knowledge of different cultures, and understanding foreign markets are better for you to learn young so you can apply them throughout your life than learn later when there’s less to do.
    Matt at LivingIF.com recently posted..Snapshot Sunday: Church of the Sepulchre