With the world literally at our fingertips, it’s no coincidence that wanderlust is on the rise. We engage with and learn about people across the planet, creating a more enticing and more attainable world—especially for young adults who are just coming into their own.
“People in this age bracket yearn to personally experience the destinations with which they engage regularly,” said travel blogger Ellen Taylor.
Because of our connectedness and a rapidly globalizing economy, we are a generation that loves to travel and explore. When we check one destination off our bucket lists, we simultaneously add three. For the most adventurous among us, the lack of stability and groundedness is enticing—around the next corner we might find something wonderful, whether it’s a new place, a new way of thinking or even just new foods to try.
“By the time you come home, you experience a newfound stability that is grounding and makes it possible to move onto the next stage of your life,” whether that means graduate studies, a career or starting a family,” psychoanalyst and author Claudia Luiz said.
Early adulthood is the classic time to search for a meaning in life. This is the age when it’s most expected to uproot from all that’s familiar to find deeper connection and purpose. For a lot of people, that involves travel. How can you get your adult life started while also scratching your travel itch?
How can you exercise wanderlust without taking away from your job—or losing it altogether? Find a job that fits with your values. Are you looking for lots of vacation days? The option to work from home? Some career paths allow for more opportunities to work remotely or to freelance, allowing you to travel while making money.
If you’ve already settled into a career and you’re looking to test your boundaries, ask about taking periods of unpaid leave and sabbaticals.
“If you’re valuable enough in your career, this will be an option for you,” said Alice Boyes, author of “The Anxiety Toolkit.”
If you want to travel the globe in your 20s, it’s time to start watching your spending. That might simply mean saving $5 a week at first.
Try to stop eating out for lunch as often. The average weekday “lunch out” is $12; that translates to $60 a week and $240 a month. Just a few months of preparing meals can equate to quick funds for fun.
Beyond cutting back on food spending, eliminate other expenses that bring you temporary joy but leave you wanting more. Focus on experiences you desire, make a vision board, get clear about what you want and when you want it.
Then, create a strategy for getting there: Outline how much you need to save per month and where that money is coming from.
Once you’re actually planning your trip, make your dollars go further by taking advantage of flight deals and credit cards with travel rewards. Regular spending on a credit card in place of debit cards (as long as you’re keeping up with your payments) can expedite and maximize those bonuses and rewards. Taking advantage of flight deal websites doesn’t hurt, either. If you’re flexible about your destination, scan the deals and let them dictate where you go.
The cost of living in other parts of the world is much cheaper, so once you’ve purchased the plane ticket, a little savings can stretch a long way. Book hostels, take trains, eat like a local. Not only will these things give you the opportunity to really enjoy the culture while meeting more people, you’ll also be able to travel further and for longer.
Assess your priorities. Travel brings unparalleled life experiences, but deeply consider what you’re willing to sacrifice first. Are you willing to live a less luxurious life at home, go periods of time not seeing friends or loved ones, put yourself in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations and take time away from your busy schedule? For the majority of us, the answer is somewhere in the middle.
“It’s tempting to look at those who travel the globe for a living and think they’re living the dream,” traveler and entrepreneur Aaron Tian said. “In reality, they’re living their dream. Most people in their shoes would be unhappy without a true place to call home. Living life on the move makes keeping a stable income and relationship very difficult.”
Also, realize that even those who travel for months (or years) are carrying themselves with them. The internal work in facing who you are and understanding which direction you want to move in can be done where you already are.
“If you travel with the focus of finding a ‘new you,’ you’ll certainly be disappointed,” New York-based therapist Julia Colangelo said. “If you travel to explore, learn about new places, and try some new things, you might change and will be pleasantly surprised.”
Kylie is an East Coast gal who currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, for work and play. She’s traveled to 24 countries and spent time living and teaching in Thailand and Bali before settling into her career. Kylie deeply enjoys food, music and the outdoors in the presence of good company.