Destinations Magazine

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Before Traveling Long-Term

By Livingthedreamrtw @livingdreamrtw

When it comes to long-term travel, there is no arguing that we are die hard advocates. We've done it, twice even, and do everything in our power to encourage you to take off and travel for a few months or a few years at some point in your life.

One question that comes up a lot is a matter of not where to go or how to do it, but when long-term travel makes the most sense. Although the answer may be obvious to most as being as soon as possible, those who are in college or other training programs outside of the work force have some obstacles to face when determining what time is best.

In this two-part series we want to play a little devil's advocate and give you reasons for why college students shouldn't work before traveling and also why you may consider working for a few years before traveling.

So why should you head off and explore the world right after college? The following are our four favorite reasons.

Your Circumstances May Change

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Before Traveling Long-Term
"The only constant in life is change."

This is a statement that has been made throughout the ages and is, in our experience, absolutely true. How does this fit in with your goal of traveling long-term? The longer you push it off, the more your circumstances may change and your dream of travel will be put on the back burner.

How many times have you heard the story of "I wish I would have traveled before I [got a job], [was promoted], [got married], [had a family], [bought a house]," or any other life-changing scenario? The sad truth is if you are in the position to travel and do not act on it, you may end up finding yourself uttering that very same sentence several years down the road as other life goals become a priority.

With the many roads that life may take you on, only a few may end up with you living your dream of traveling. For those who are considering doing it now versus doing it later, this thought may be enough to sway you into taking the leap and making it happen now.

Making it Happen is That Much Harder When You Wait

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Before Traveling Long-Term

On a more practical note, waiting a few years to travel will present other practical hurdles to overcome as you will have more in your life to figure out before you can leave to travel for months or years on end.

Be it anything from more boxes and furniture, to a mortgage or personal/family issues, there is simply far more to deal with in order to leave if you've been working versus only going to school or pursuing other endeavors.

We got around this when I worked full-time by living like we were graduate students and only purchased a few new items that we needed to survive (namely a couch, a nicer bed, a few more kitchen appliances, and that is about it). We had to go through the extra hoops of selling everything when we left, naturally, but without having new cars, that large TV I wanted, a mortgage, and other major items that take time to deal with or sell, the steps we had to go through to get up and go were minimal.

But for all those who are considering doing the same, I will leave you with this: it is harder than it sounds.

Leaving after school is so much easier.

You Aren't a Creature of Comfort - Yet

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Before Traveling Long-Term

Hosteling? Check. Couch surfing? No problem. Camping? Why not. Eating street food to save $10? Sign me up!

Try doing that after you've lived a comfortable life of nice dinners and better accommodations than a college dorm room. I look at the above items and still think that I could do that, but when it comes down to it, I'd rather not (okay, I'll still do street food but only because it is authentic and delicious- not because of the price).

I can say from experience that the more I've worked over the years, the more my minimum level of comfort has gone up, and that held quite true on our second long-term trip where we ended up spending far more than your average backpacker.

Will you be the same? It is hard to say as every one is different. As for us, I can assure you that you'll never see us in a dorm room again unless we absolutely have to, and that makes traveling longer far more expensive. Keeping that in mind, I can only imagine what our travel style will be in five or ten years when our available budget goes up even more.

Giving that up to travel on a budget would be next to impossible for us at that point, and we suspect it would be the same for everyone else, too.

It is a Well Deserved Break Before Starting a Career

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Before Traveling Long-Term

Finally, like with any major milestones, you've put a lot of work in to get to the finish line. Be it two, four, six, or nine years of education, you may just need a break before crossing over from student to worker.

To celebrate your accomplishment, there is nothing better than going off to see the world and take in everything you can while also learning more practical life skills that can transfer to a future career. We did, and it shaped everything that we are today and will be for many years to come.

If there is any reason that makes more since than a simple "you deserve it," I really can't come up with it. Traveling after college is a great celebration for accomplishing your goal.

What are you waiting for? Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. "That sounds great, but I can't travel right after I graduate!" We've got you covered. Head over to our alternative post "4 Reasons Why You Should Work (A Year or Two) Before Traveling Long-Term" to see the alternative side of the argument! Have you traveled long-term immediately after graduating? Comment below to join the conversation and let us know what you thought of the decision - both good and bad!
4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work Before Traveling Long-Term

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