I’VE ALWAYS BEEN an insatiable traveler, and money never used to be a problem. That’s because I never had any. I traveled a ton when I was young and broke, but as soon as I got a steady job, I started thinking I “couldn’t afford” travel.
The Boston Consulting group reports that millennials, those between the ages of 16 and 34, are 23% more invested in travel than the previous generations. This is true despite our limited discretionary income.
I used to be a prime example of this statistic: In college, I couldn’t afford to do a semester abroad in Spain, so, I spent late nights talking to recruiters and got a paid internship which allowed me to spend a whole summer in Barcelona. Last year, I traveled from Boston to Bali and Thailand until I could no longer afford a $10 a night hostel. Money was never something I had enough of, but it never held me back from traveling until I got a steady job.
Comfort breeds the perfect environment for fear.
Having some savings in the bank and a home base to come back to should be the ultimate motivation for traveling, right? Until recently, I was at a desk job cold e-mailing people. I had managed to save a little, so I could easily sublet my room in Barcelona for a few months and go to the Caribbean. I even found a volunteer program that would have me live in the lush Dominican forest in exchange for doing photography — literally the perfect scenario. Yet I was scared and hesitant. We imagine fear as an emotion that arises in times of scarcity. The reality is that we are most susceptible to fear when we find ourselves in the comfort zone.
The “comfort zone” is a space in your mind where your behaviors and activities fit a set routine, reducing risk. Knowing exactly what’s going to happen each day minimizes our stress and sets us up for a state of limbo. Nine-to-five jobs are a prime example of that. We earn just enough money per month to pay our bills, but not enough to live well. This little bubble of safety, however, makes us feel like we’ve got so much to lose if we walk away. The reality is that we don’t. It’s proven that traveling through Europe permanently can be cheaper than 9-5 life, so if you’re concerned about saving, the office won’t help you.
Traveling is always worth it.
The most precious things you can lose are time and your appetite for life. If travel makes you feel in your element and fuels your love for life, you should break away from the comfort zone and travel. If you’ve got only a few dollars to your name, you may need some time to strategize. There are a ton awesome jobs you can do while traveling. But if you, like me, find yourself held on a leash by a stable existence, you should go travel as soon as possible. I’m telling you from experience that if you’re in your twenties, you will make and blow money so many times that you won’t even bat an eye. According to State Street Global Advisors, 60% of millennials have changed jobs between one and four times in the last five years.
You will go bankrupt and will be able to recover every time. There’s plenty of cash to be made in the world, but there isn’t plenty of time. Nine-to-five jobs and the comfort of barely making ends meet are engineered to keep us hooked, just like sugar. Quit the vicious cycle and take a step back. Traveling will create memories you’ll cherish forever and change you for the better. To travel is to invest in yourself. You deserve it. Stop hiding behind the money excuse and go explore.