Why you should quit your job and travel in your 20s
If you want to grow and make the most of your twenties, do it somewhere overseas. You have your entire life ahead of you to work -- and with the way the economy looks now, you'll be working until you die. Why plow through your best years, hoping to spend your last years doing all the stuff you could have done better in your youth?
I say quit your job and travel the world. Discover yourself on the road. Become a better you. Here are all the reasons why you should quit your job and travel instead.
You don't have money, but you don't need it
Working at Wal-Mart or waiting tables isn’t going to pay your $100,000 student debt. If you’re unemployed or underemployed, traveling is a better option. You have nothing to lose. There are plenty of overseas jobs out there, and the Internet has made them easy to find. Teaching jobs or seasonal work abroad can be found very easily on websites like Helpx.net and Workaway.info. I made enough money teaching English in Thailand to keep me on the road for close to a year!
Wait out the economic storm and come back with skills and experience for your career when there's more opportunity.
Your skills aren't going anywhere
Got an amazing job? Second in your class? Probably going to invent the next Facebook? Awesome. You’re a highly skilled, in-demand person. With natural talent like that you’ll be in demand in a year or two, too. Quit, travel, and get a job when you come back. After all, how many unemployed rocket scientists are there? Not many.
You'll learn to talk with anyone
On the road, you have to talk to people. You either get good at making friends or you end up alone. Traveling the world will improve your ability to engage in small talk, turn strangers into friends, and be extroverted. The ability to form an instant rapport with someone you’ve never met will help you in both your professional and personal life.
It will put your day-to-day in perspective
You've hiked Mt. Everest. Gone on safari in Africa. Wined and dined a beautiful girl in Argentina. Backpacked around Australia and navigated unknown cities with ease. In short, you’ve become the most interesting man in the world. Crossing a few chores off your office to-do list looks a helluva lot less daunting when you've already knocked plenty of events off your bucket list.
You learn to just make things work
If you can handle traveling in foreign countries or talking to people you don't share a language with, you can do anything. After I moved to Bangkok without knowing a soul, I knew I could repeat that process anywhere and that I had no reason to be worried about the unknown. Figuring things out without any support system around you turns you into an independent problem solver. That kind of skillset will come in handy if you have to move for a job or end up in an unfamiliar role at work.
It's easier than ever
When I started planning my first trip in 2006, there were hardly any online resources compared to today. People still used guide books. You know, those things in libraries that aren't computers.
Now, the internet is awash with websites designed to do one thing: make it easier and cheaper for you to travel. Moreover, the sharing economy has made it easier to find reliable information and to connect with locals. No place is too obscure to become your next destination. You’re now able to learn all about where you’re going, what to do there, and where to eat, all from locals who are surprisingly cool with you crashing on their couch.
You’ll work until you’re dead anyway
Let’s face it — the days of working until you’re 60 and living off a pension are long gone. Unless you invent the next Facebook, you’re going to be working for the next 50 years. With that in mind, why waste your twenties saving for a retirement that may never happen? Think of all the boomers who saved for retirement before the 2008 economic crash and are now still working. They put off their dreams for “tomorrow”, and it looks like tomorrow isn’t going to come after all. Don’t make that mistake. Don’t spend your best days in an office.
You'll gain real-world experience
You’ve traveled the world alone, handled awkward situations, and dealt with many different kinds of people. In short, you’ve learned crucial people skills not taught in schools. Guess what the working world requires? These are the kind of skills that employers look for in new hires. You can teach a man to fish, but you can't teach him how to talk with the other fishermen. Trust me. I’m an employer.
Your dollars will go pretty far
The dollar isn't as strong as it was ten years ago, but it’s regained strength this year, even against the dreaded Euro. That makes traveling overseas cheaper. And visiting countries whose currency has slid against the dollar will help even more. Choice destinations include Australia, Canada, Southeast Asia, and South America. Go now, spend less, and do more.
You'll regret not doing it when you're old
No one ever comes back from time abroad and says, “Wow! Traveling sucks!” If you wait long enough, eventually you'll probably get married, have kids, buy a house, and really set down roots. And those things are great. But you can't just up and ditch them on a whim when you're 35.
Travel gives you a better appreciation for what you have and focuses your priorities on what matters most: enjoying life. Don’t waste the freest, most fun decade of your life dreaming of doing something cool. Go out, explore the world, learn, and grow.
Matthew Kepnes is a travel writer and author of How to Travel the World on $50 A Day and the creative force behind Nomadic Matt, a website that provides detailed information on how to travel cheaper, better, and longer. His advice is often featured in Time, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Lifehacker, Buzzfeed, National Geographic, BBC, The Guardian, among other publications.