Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

Bonus: Click here to get my best advice on how to create a blog to remember your adventure, share your story, and connect with the world in a way that makes a difference.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. —Augustine of Hippo

The other night, I had a conversation with a young lady who had a number of decisions ahead of her, which included whether she should go to grad school or travel the world.

Travel While You're Young

Photo credit: kokorowa (Creative Commons)

I told her to travel. Hands down. No excuses. Just go. The results are worth the costs. And she sighed.

“Yeah, but…”

Never were more fatal words spoken:

  • Yeah, but… what about debt?
  • Yeah, but… what about my job?
  • Yeah, but… what about my boyfriend (or dog or car or whatever)?

“Yeah, but…” is pernicious. Because it makes it sound like we have the best of intentions when really we are just too scared to do what we should. It allows us to be cowards, while sounding noble.

Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did. Conversely, plenty of people who waited for grad school or a steady job and traveled still did those things — eventually.

Be careful of the yeah-but. The yeah-but will kill your dreams. [Tweet that]

I was so stirred by this conversation that I shared it with a group of 30 young adults last night, many who were asking these very same questions.

The life you’ve always wanted

When you get older, life seems to just sort of happen to you. Your youth is a time of total empowerment. You get to do what you want.

But as you mature and gain new responsibilities, you have to be very intentional about making sure you don’t lose sight of what’s important.

So if you still have a reasonable amount of control over your circumstances, you should do what really matters. Because life won’t always be just about you.

During early adulthood, your worldview is still being formed. It’s important to steward this time — to give yourself opportunities to grow. A good way to do that is to travel.

So, young person, travel. Travel wide and far. Travel boldly. Travel with full abandon.

You will regret few risks you take when it comes to this. I promise you that. There are three reasons to travel while you’re young:

1. Traveling teaches you to live an adventure

When you look back on your life, you will have moments of which you are proud and maybe a few you regret. It’s likely that the following won’t be on the latter list:

  • Bicycled across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Appeared on Italian TV.
  • Hiked a Mayan ruin.
  • Learned Spanish in three months.
  • Toured Europe by train.

They’re not on mine (fun fact: I’ve done all of the above). So what, then, will be? What choices will you regret making? Holding back. Being afraid. Making excuses. Not taking more risks. Waiting.

While you’re young, you should travel. 

You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life. It’s worth whatever investment or money or sacrifice of time that may be required on your part.

This is not about being a tourist. It’s about experiencing true risk and adventure so you don’t have to live in fear for the rest of your life. And it’s about remembering and sharing your adventure, and inspiring others to step out of that fear, too.

2. Traveling helps you encounter compassion

In your youth, you will make choices that will define you. The disciplines you begin now will be with you for the rest of your life.

Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you.

If you go to southeast Asia, you may encounter the slave trade. If eastern Europe, you may see the effects of genocide and religious persecution. If Haiti, you’ll witness the the ugly side Western paternalism.

Your heart will break.

You will begin to understand that the world is both a big and small place. You will have a new-found respect for the pain and suffering that over half of the world takes for granted on a daily basis.

And you will feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way. You will learn to care, and you might even find a way to speak up for the people you encounter who need a voice.

3. Traveling allows you to get some culture

While you’re still young, you should get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. There’s nothing quite like walking alongside the Colosseum or seeing Michelangelo’s David in person.

I can describe the city of San Juan and its amazing beaches and historic sites to you, but you really have to see it for yourself to experience it. You can read all the books in the world about the Great Wall of China or The Louvre, but being there is a different story.

The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.

Do this while you’re still young. Do not squander the time. You may never have it again.

You have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. Please. For your sake, do this. Because you won’t always be young. And life won’t always be just about you.

So travel. Experience the world for all it’s worth. Become a person of culture, adventure, and compassion.

“What if I’m not young?”

Travel, anyway. It may not be easy to do, but find a way to get out of your comfort zone. It’s really never too late.

But if you haven’t gotten sucked into the routine of life yet, I implore you — travel. It will never be easier than it is right now for you to do that which really matters.

Living an adventure is important. But it’s just as important to share it, too.

Whether it’s to remember it for yourself, to invite your friends and family to share it with you, or to inspire others to have compassion for the things you’re seeing, keeping a travel blog can be a meaningful way to share your adventure with the world.

If you want your travel blog to matter — to be extraordinary — I’ve put together a free email series to walk you through creating and sharing a blog that matters. Click here to get it now.

Travel While You're Young

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • John Smith

    Hi your article is pathetic; learn how to write loser! Just kidding however you clearly put no effort into it and it states the same thing every other article on the internet says about travelling while young.

  • The Absolute Nihilist

    Easy to say when you’re lucky that some other person gave you a lot of money to spend on the huge energy cost & environmental degradation caused by unnecessary travel. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a job & get paid to do what we’d like to do.

    To all travel-bugs who think human culture is so important: I encourage you all to visit all the planets’ current prisons to see what life is life for those forced behind bars. I think you’ll quickly see that justice & fairness are infinitely more important than human culture, which is just entertainment. Prisons include factory farming: the holocaust of billions of nonhuman animals bred & tortured to death unnecessarily rather than people going vegan.

  • Richard B

    I really want to travel so much. I’ve travelled around the east of Europe for a month, spent a month in Spain and been to many different countries. My one problem is that I don’t feel like I can leave my dog. I know you people will think it’s an excuse, but it’s really not. Me and my parents rescued her 18 months ago and my dog and I have formed the strongest bond. We’re very close and I feel like I understand her more than anyone else. I know that she has been abandoned twice in the past and for me to leave her and go off travelling would be so hard. I’d feel so guilty, as if I was abandoning her just like her old owners did, even if she got over me leaving. I’m in a real conundrum. This is not about making excuses, it’s a really hard decision. I really want to go travelling for an extended period of time, probably at least a year, but I just don’t feel like I can leave my dog 😞. Help!!

    • Ameer Syazwan

      I was in the same position as you. Its a tough decision but you have to choose. I regret that I didnt spend much time traveling (stay for a longer period) but I dont regret chose my cats over traveling. I know “Eiffel tower has been there for years” is cliche, but your dog wont there forever. He may be a part of you world, but you are is his world. Remember that. He doesnt have anyone else. Cheers!


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  • Lol so to the point. I love it. Most people end up getting old, like you said, and living in regret. I vowed to prevent that from ever happening in the first place. That is probably my biggest fear in this world, turning 70, looking back, wishing I would have.

    I have made my decision a couple weeks ago and I will be traveling the world. No ifs, ands, or buts.

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  • Kelvin Yam

    I’m not making a lot of money and I can’t afford luxury travel. But I still travel abroad with my wife and 2 children at least once a year. When travel, we take buses and trains, and we stay in cheap hotels and hostels.

    I may be living in a small house, and I may be driving an old car. But I still insist on spending what I earn on travelling. Life is too short to worry about housing loans and car loans.

    I’m now 40 and my children are 11 and 6. I’m glad that I have brought them to Disneyland California, went to the top of Eiffel Tower, saw the Mona Lisa, cruise in Amsterdam’s canals, ride on Elephants, climb the Great Walls, etc. Sometimes I would think that with the money I spent on travels, I could have bought another house. But on other thought, life is too short to be working my whole life to pay bank loans.

    I will continue to travel as long as my health permits and not out of job.

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    Thank you for this article! I really want to travel but still have to pay student loans. I feel so stuck here but also scared of being independent (never had been…. yet). At the same time though, I want to just “go”

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    Travelling is such a beautiful thing to do. Travel allows us to shape our own world, see it and understand it first hand. Totally agree with the points shared. thanks for giving me the inspiration i was trying to develop by reading such blogs. Travelling is best when you are young. http://himalayadestination.com/blog/why-you-should-travel/ even this blog has given me the extra wings. Thought to share with you too. lots of things can be build up in young age.

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  • ART214

    I enjoyed this article. I am 29 years old and my dream has always been to travel and see the world. I have been to several countries so far but there are still so many places on my list I wish to see someday.
    While I am a huge fan of travel and adventure, and would not trade any of my experiences/adventures for anything else (new car, material possessions, etc.), I also feel its important to be realistic and “look before you leap”. For example, I have a friend who quit is job a year ago to go travelling. Now he is back home, but struggling to find a job and having a hard time just paying rent. The point is not to discourage anyone, but to be realistic. By all means, go travel and see the world, but have a plan, and at least ensure that you have somewhat of a financial cushion. I know many people might disagree with me on this, but I don’t think you should go of travelling the world if you have just graduated school and are $25000 in student loan debt. I would be much happier travelling the world at least knowing I don’t owe any money and am debt free as oppose to travelling with that hanging over your head- but that’s just me.
    Having said all that, life is what you make of it to a large extent, and once you have a dream/goal/passion in life, go out in the world and make it happen. Have a vision, have a plan, be realistic, and plan ahead. Good luck!

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