Photo: pikselstock/Shutterstock

9 Things Travelers Do Wrong in Their 20s

by Matt Hershberger Feb 5, 2015

1. We spend too much time at hostels.

Hostels are wonderful (and cheap), but at the end of the day, they’re just full of other hostellers. So we end up spending all of our time with other expats and wanderers rather than with the locals in the place we’re visiting.

2. We think we’re the first people to see the world.

The time of my life when I was the worst person was right after I got back from my first study abroad when I was 20. I was insufferable. I thought I had the world figured out. But as I traveled more in my mid-and-late-20s, I began to realize that the more you travel, the less you understand. Traveling should be a humbling experience, not one that makes you arrogant.

3. We want too badly to save the world.

People are pretty idealistic in their 20s, and 20something travelers are doubly so. But while volunteering is good, oftentimes, we’d be better served by listening to the people we want to save rather than simply attempting to save them without their input.

4. We imagine travel is something that will end at age 30.

Travel will last as long as we make it last, regardless of whether we get married and have kids and “settle down.” Every age of your life is a good age for travel.

5. We travel too fast.

Young travelers tend to see the world as a place that’s so impossibly huge that they have to rush through it. So we rush around, trying to drink in as many sights and experiences as we possibly can, with the expectation that we’ll be able to keep up the pace for the rest of our lives. We won’t. The sooner we realize that, upon our deathbeds, parts of the world are still going to remain unseen by our eyes, the sooner we’ll be able to start fully experiencing the places we actually do see.

6. We don’t travel enough.

While the Millennial generation is becoming a jetsetting generation, there are still a lot of us in our 20s who aren’t traveling enough. We’re doing this because of supposed “real world” expectations like holding down a standard job or because we have insane amounts of student loans. But we also have an entire internet dedicated to budget travel, and absolutely no reason to not be traveling now when it may get financially harder to travel when we have kids and a more stable life further down the road.

7. We’re too afraid of looking like idiots.

We’re still worried about what other people think of us in our 20s, so we end up spending a lot of time pretending we understand things that we don’t. But the thing is, the moments that you learn the most from are the moments in which you admit you don’t know a thing, accept that you look a bit like an asshole, and move on. You don’t learn from trying to look cool.

8. We think we have to love every place we visit.

Just because you don’t like a place doesn’t make you closed-minded. Some things just aren’t for you.

9. We don’t ever splurge.

20somethings are incredibly thrifty travelers. We can get several days out of the same amount of money our parents would put down on a single night in a mid-level hotel room. But sometimes, you’ve gotta splurge on that play, museum ticket, or restaurant to fully get the feel of being in a place.

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