Is Travel Easier When You Are Young?

I recently put up a guest post by Ross Cameron of New Adventures In Backpacking posing the question Can You Be To Old To Backpack? In my mind, the answer is that you can always sling on a backpack no matter what age you are, but it has made me think about how much easier it is to start travelling when you’re young. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Travel is great at any age. One common problem faced by many travellers however is that the older you get, the more complicated it can be to just jump and go. With things like a house, car, work, and family to organise before you leave I can totally see why. Although it is completely possible to travel with all of these things with just a bit more planning, if you start when you are young it really makes life so much easier to go when you want with little or no planning involved.

I was fortunate enough to have someone say this to me several years ago when I was just 17. At the time I had a very junior job with a sales company and was living with my parents. I had little if any commitments. After a conversation with a slightly older friend of mine who was already travelling, and a very unsatisfying day at work, I bunked off just before my lunch break, went to the nearest travel agents, and used my entire months pay check to buy a flight to Australia. I have never stopped travelling since.

In retrospect, if I had waited to do that until the age I am now, I would have got myself into quite a mess. For a start, I was still young enough to be living with my parents. I paid a nominal amount of money to my parents for food and board, but had I been older and renting or owning a flat for example, I would have had outstanding bills to pay that I couldn’t just ignore and use a whole months pay check on something else. On top of that, selling or letting out your home before you leave can take a bit of time (especially in today’s market) or if you are renting you will probably have a notice period which you have to give. People also may have children they need to provide for, partners who may have commitments at home, or elderly relatives who rely on them. You can certainly still travel with all of these things give or take a few adjustments and some forward planning, however these are issues which you just wouldn’t have to face if you start while you are young.

I also had a very junior job when I decided to leave. I hadn’t spent years working for promotions. My job could be filled in an instant and I knew I could get another one the same somewhere else if I needed to. If you have worked your way up a company or have your own business, sometimes it can make you feel more strained or pressured to stay on. In the end, for me anyway, none of that matters unless you are happy, but it’s just not something you have to think about as a very young traveller.

The most important thing about travelling young though is the experience. Travelling when you are a teenager is just an entirely different experience to that of someone a lot older. You are not just experiencing travel for the first time but you are experiencing life and adulthood for the first time too. Everything is new and exhilarating. You tend to be less cautious and more care free. I hadn’t had my first love until I went away. Can you imagine falling in love for the first time but being half way across the world in some of the most stunning scenery and destinations around? It definitely adds to the experience. It’s great now too as I can go back to a destination I have been previously and have a different experience to my first. It really keeps things fresh, and now I have the foundations in place from when I was younger, it also makes things so much easier to just keep going.

The thing is, even if you are a little bit older than I was, or even a lot, there is still a lot of ways that you can overcome those things that are holding you back. The key is to act now, not later. There are several examples of people who travel with kids, partners, or split travel for shorter or timelier periods so they can juggle both travel and commitments back home. In most cases it just requires more planning in advance. Some people just travel for 1 -3 months at a time; others sell everything and go, or rent out their home and use the extra money to keep their travels going. There is always a solution if you look hard enough. Sometimes it comes down to making hard decisions, but if it’s what you want then I would urge you to take the leap and go for it! There is so much more to gain than there is to loose. Trust me, you don’t want to look back in decades to come and think “what if”.

There is no age limit to travel no matter what anyone may say. Sure, I would encourage people to start young because it can be easier to just drop everything and go, but don’t let age put you off from what you want. It’s better late than never.

3 Responses to “Is Travel Easier When You Are Young?”

  1. ayngelina says:

    I can put this into perspective as well. Ten years ago I finished university and traveled to Asia for 8 months. I was naive enough not to know what I was getting into and sketchy situations didn’t bother me. But…I had to work because I had no money, it was an easy compromise.
    Now at 32 I’m taking at least a year off to travel. I left a really good job so it took me much less time to save money to travel but I’ll admit I want more comforts. I still stay in hostel dorms but the ones that aren’t clean bother me much more than they would have 10 years ago.

  2. Great writing and interesting topic. I can relate…

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