A recent survey showed that more than 50% of people wished they would have saved more money for travel during their 20′s.
Eighteen months after college, I quit my first “real job,” sold everything, and moved to South Africa. Throughout the next four years, I was able to travel to over a dozen countries in Africa. A few month ago, my husband and I sold everything we owned in South Africa and moved back to America to prepare for our next adventure.
On track to visit 30 countries by my 30th birthday, I have made sacrifices to be able to explore the world. Looking back, it has all been worth it. Here are four reasons I am glad I traveled in my 20′s:
1. Green Travel is Easier
Have you noticed that budget travel and green travel often go hand-in-hand? Since the majority of my travel has involved a small budget, it usually is green too. Public transportation is always more cost effective than renting a car, and camping is more economical than staying at hotels.
My husband and I just spent nearly three months traveling through Africa. By camping, we were able to spend less than $700 on accommodation for the entire trip. Not only is camping a great way to travel green, it also saved us money.
But budget travel can be more physically taxing. Fifteen years from now, I am sure I will prefer a hotel room to a tent!
2. The Element of Risk
My favorite travel experiences are always unexpected, and involve adventure. With the joys of having children and owning a home come increased responsibilities. I am looking forward to both, but they will definitely change how I travel.
On a recent trip, we were invited to visit a friend in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We had some major challenges trying to get a visa. We eventually discovered the easiest way was by visiting a National Park. By climbing an active volcano in the Virunga National Park, we were also able to also spend a few days visiting our friend and his family. It was unexpected, off the beaten path, and one of my most memorable travel experiences to date.
While I am certain my passion for travel and exploration will not fade with age, I am sure I will be less likely to take some of the risks I am eager to take now.
3. Talk About Perspective
It is one thing to learn about other cultures from a textbook, it is quite another to experience them firsthand. Travels have taken me off the beaten path and I have met people that will continue to influence how I relate to the world around me.
While in Namibia last year we visited a Himba village. In just a few hours we were able to learn more about the culture than we ever would have from reading a book or watching National Geographic. Although other cultures have abandoned some of the tradition clothing and traditions, many Himba people continue to live like they have for the last few hundred years.
There are so many rich cultures in the world that we can learn from, I’m thankful to have experienced many cultures in the world throughout my 20′s. Now, I have the next several decades to apply all of the life lessons!
4. A Trip Down Memory Lane
In my early twenties, I traveled with my best friend. After over a dozen years of friendship, many of our favorite memories are from times we were fumbling through Spain with our 10th grade Spanish and trying to navigate public transportation in Italy.
Now, my husband is my most frequent travel companion. In less than two years, we’ve traveled to over 15 countries together. Whether we are laughing about my horrible French pronunciation in the Rwanda, or reminiscing about visiting castles in Scotland, I love having these memories with him.
What are some of your favorite travel memories from your 20′s and 30′s? Why are you glad you have invested in travel?
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about Money During Your Life see Money in Your 20’s/30’s/40’s/50’s/Retirement Roundup.