Most of us like the idea of eventually “settling down.” For some of us, that means getting married, having children, and purchasing a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. For others, it means choosing the city of your dreams and maintaining a robust, active social life indefinitely. For still others, it means removing yourself from society and living in peaceful isolation in a cabin in the woods.
Whatever you envision for your own settling down, you should consider traveling extensively before you do it. Traveling frequently before committing to any major life decision can provide you with many benefits.
1. You Don’t Know What’s Out There
First, you don’t know what’s out there. Without traveling, it’s impossible to know which country is best for you. You’ll never realize which experiences and sights you’re missing out on. You don’t know what kind of career and networking opportunities you’re never going to see. Traveling is a way to see more of the world, educate yourself, and get a better perspective of what’s really out there. Once you have this perspective, you’ll be able to make much more informed decisions and feel more confident about your position in life.
2. Your Tastes Can (and Probably Will) Evolve
By extension, you should realize that while traveling, your tastes can and probably will evolve. You may start out feeling like the United States is your home, and no amount of travel will change your mind – but after traveling, you may fall in love with a country like Germany or France.
Tastes can change in subtler ways as well. For example, you might hate the idea of getting married, but end up meeting the love of your life on your journeys. You may become obsessed with living in a big city, but after visiting Tokyo, you may lose your enthusiasm.
Taste evolution is always a good thing because it helps you realize more about yourself and leads you to more meaningful, personal decisions.
3. You’ll Learn New Things
Throughout your travels, you’re going to learn many new things. You’ll pick up new skills. You’ll get a better sense for history and geography. You’ll meet people who can show you tricks of the trade and teach you about new possibilities in life. You could even learn about different real estate markets and, according to Green Residential, eventually invest in property outside of where you live.
On some level, knowledge is its own reward. It feels good to learn new things and have a better perspective on the world. But this knowledge is also useful for building your career, helping you make better financial decisions, and ultimately forging a better life for yourself.
4. You’ll Meet New People
Traveling before you settle down gives you the opportunity to meet new people. You could meet your next significant other or spouse. You could meet a close friend who stays in contact with you for the rest of your life. You could even meet like-minded professionals willing to hire you and support your career. All of these people have benefits to provide you, and you might miss out on them if you don’t take the time to travel.
5. Now Is the Best Time
Some people like the idea of traveling the world after they retire. However, it’s usually better to travel while you’re young. When you’re young, you’re much more flexible. You have fewer responsibilities and commitments. You have more energy and enthusiasm. You also have more options available to you, like youth hostels. Now, before you settle down, is the best time to travel, so you don’t want to miss out on it.
Is Travel Always Ideal?
Is travel always the right choice? The short answer is no. There are some downsides to travel you need to consider.
- Time. Traveling takes a lot of time. You need to plan, you need to transport yourself, and you need to spend days or weeks at new locations. This doesn’t leave much time for anything else if you travel frequently.
- Money. Travel gets expensive, especially if you’re doing it regularly. Even if you operate as frugally as possible, you’ll still end up spending hundreds to thousands of dollars with every trip.
- Family. If you commit to traveling in most of your free time, you won’t have much time to spend with your family members or loved ones.
- Responsibilities and commitments. You may also have to sacrifice some of your responsibilities and commitments; for example, you won’t be able to maintain the same type of job once you start traveling.
Finding Time to Travel
If time is your biggest concern, there are several strategies that can help you, such as:
- Take a gap year or hiatus. A prolonged break could give you the time you need.
- Focus on shorter trips. Sometimes, even a few days is enough to scratch that travel itch.
- Find flexible work. If you can work remotely, you could become a digital nomad and travel indefinitely.
Finding Money to Travel
If money is your biggest concern, these tactics can help you travel in a more budget-friendly way:
- Minimize your spending. Try to minimize your spending in other areas of your life. You can downsize your apartment, move to a cheaper area of town, eliminate entertainment expenses, and cook your own food instead of going out.
- Develop multiple income sources. If possible, collect income from several different sources. In addition to your primary job, consider picking up side gigs and freelance opportunities for some extra cash. Take advantage of savings accounts and cash-back credit cards, like those from SoFi, to collect interest and earn rewards as forms of passive income.
- Travel cheaply. There are many ways you can travel cheaply. You can look for discounts and special offers, stay in hostels, and consult travel guides for tips on how to save money in specific locations.
Traveling extensively isn’t the right move for everyone, but if you can afford it and you like the idea of it, you should actively participate. Spending time traveling before you settle down could be exactly what you need to create your perfect future.