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10 Ways Traveling Will Make Your 20s More Difficult

by Janny Hoedemaker Feb 1, 2016

“SELL YOUR STUFF, TRAVEL THE WORLD!” You may see this advice coming at you rapid fire off of your social media feed. But if you get rid of all your things and take the plunge into a world of travel, you may find that instead of solving all of your problems, you’re actually causing more.

You probably won’t save any money.

Travel means buying flights, paying for accommodation and forking over the money for tours and cultural experiences. Tie this in with the reality that you may not even be able to land a job and saving money becomes a far-fetched dream. The relationship I have with saving and my bank account is like playing a board game where I always pull the “Take 2 Steps Back,” card.

Covering your basic life needs will become an issue.

On top of worrying about your career and whether or not you want to have children, you will now have to worry about where you’re going to sleep at night and whether or not you will run out of money. When I first arrived in Thailand, I left my stuffy hotel room to hand out resumes to random schools, not sure whether I was depressed about living in a shoebox without a kitchen or the fact that I had no idea what to do with my life.

You will struggle to build strong friendships.

It probably took you a while to build the friendships you have back at home. With a lifestyle that always keeps you moving, you won’t have the chance to see what could have happened with that awesome guy you met in your Venice hostel. Some days, I look through my Facebook feed and have to remind myself who certain people are and how I met them, and then wonder if they still remember me.

You don’t get to have pets anymore.

You no longer get to experience the weight of the cat on your calves upon waking up and the frantic tail that appears in the window when you get home. Now that I’m traveling, I just resemble the pigeon woman from Home Alone 2, trying to lure every four legged street creature over to come love me.

You’re going to miss major life events.

If you have younger siblings or friends in grad school, don’t be surprised if you’re seeing their big day documented on Facebook rather than in person. My sister will be graduating from university in a few months, and I will be sending a tear-soaked postcard from New Zealand instead of seeing her in that snazzy cap and gown.

You won’t make a dent in those student loan payments.

Your lack of extra cash and opportunities for work will lower your chances of paying that student loan debt off anytime soon. I now laugh at my naïve goal to pay a little extra on my loans each month when I’m handing over cash to try out restaurants and coffee shops in new cities because “This might be the only time I ever get the chance.”

You won’t really have a routine anymore.

Just when you start keeping up with morning jogs and writing in your gratitude journal before bed, that nagging urge will see you out the door, luggage in hand. I can hardly manage to wash my face every night because of an overnight train ride or the fact that my bottle of face wash is buried at the bottom of my backpack.

It may be even harder to figure out what to do with your life.

It’s likely that you’re already asking the age-old question, “What the hell am I going to do with my life?” Seeing new ways of living or genuinely falling in love with a nomadic existence often makes it difficult to commit to one direction. When I started teaching in China, I planned to go home to further my studies and make it my career. After six months, I changed my mind and decided to just travel the world forever.

Everything that you know as reality will be completely shattered.

Your idea of rules, social cues, laws, perspectives and normalcy will be shattered while traveling. The open-style housing in Bali had me co-existing with spiders and ants in the bed while the New Zealander habit of not wearing shoes has me laughing at US shop signs reading “No shoes, no shirt, no service.”

You will feel overwhelmed by options.

It’s shocking, but you’re bound to discover the former lawyer who now lives in Bali, teaching surf lessons and living in his van. You will probably meet the online entrepreneurs who travel and make money all around the world, too. You may quickly figure out that there are way more life options than you were told about, and it can be quite overwhelming. Each country I travel to adds another path onto the intersection that is my life and sometimes I would rather eat a box of cookies and watch Netflix than to try to make a decision.

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