How to Travel More (and More Affordably) as a Young Person
You don't need to "drop everything" to travel.
It's a lot easier, non-committal, and shorter than you think.
Quick note, if you don't want to explore the world, meet new people, enjoy nature, or experience culture of all types, please leave now. This post isn't for you.
This post is for the people who want to do all of these things, but have found it difficult to do due to circumstances of any nature (financial, relationship, school, career, etc).
Still here? Great.
Sometimes we don't realize how amazingly accessible our world is today. Gone are the days of flight and travel only being for the wealthiest in our nation. We can literally get a ticket from Boston to New York City for $40 roundtrip. Hell if you live in Los Angeles and want to take a week long trip to Chicago, a *roundtrip* plane ticket could be as cheap as $97.
If that's not accessibility, then I don't know what is.
Now international travel is a little more sought after I'm sure, and more expensive, but that just requires a little more savvy. It doesn't have to be some impossible thing to reach. But how do you reach it?
First, a life lesson: if you really want something bad enough, you WILL save for it.
Don't bullshit me with "x is so expensive, they're trying to stop poor people from buying it" if you spend every weekend eating out, watching movies, and what I call "tipping above your salary".
That's an excuse for whiners to use because they're too scared of actually taking the responsibility to prioritize their actions. They'd rather complain about how they have so many responsibilities and a lack of money that they can't travel. Then they'll go and spend on other things and KEEP complaining about how the greedy corporations and capitalists and people who enjoy travel are making them feel bad for not traveling.
How many people do you know who wished they could just:
- travel to Europe for 3 months?
- travel to Hawaii for a week?
- travel to California for a weekend?
But then they never do anything to act on these wants. Because that's all this is to them. They don't want to work hard for it, they just want the prize to be magically gifted to them. I know a few people like this, though they all start to sound pretty similar after a while.
What are the common excuses we hear from these perpetual want-to-be travelers?
- "I don't have enough money."
- "I don't have enough time."
- "I don't have any friends to go with me."
That's interesting. Do you see a trend here? No matter what it is, there's always an excuse for every little situation. They never think positively about what they could be doing instead.
Is that harsh of me to say? Maybe.
Look, you don't have to travel. I never claimed that EVERYONE should travel.
And no one's forcing you to do it. But if you do want to travel, then you don't have to delay it until retirement. That one trip can be a life-changing experience if you let it happen sooner rather than later.
Here are ways that I have been able to travel to 15/50 states and 3 countries:
1.) Attend a conference
I got a scholarship to attend an economics seminar in Golden, Colorado. It was the first time I got to travel to the state and it was only thanks to the generous donations by people who believe in the Foundation of Economics Education. They paid for my room & board and flight for 4 days. I don't doubt that there are other programs like this in the world.
2.) Study Abroad
If you're in college and receiving financial aid, you might want to take this route. In my case, Australian universities were much cheaper than big ole' USC, and so the university gave me enough money to make my trip affordable. It was one of the best experiences of my life to stay in a new country for 5 months. I'm extremely grateful for this opportunity in specific, because I got to meet so many people from all around the world my age. I felt like we were Pokemon trainers traveling to a new region and exploring the country together.
3.) The Grimy Way (cheap flights and packed hostels)
Like the Chicago trip mentioned above, you can pretty much book a whole week in Chicago for the price of $97, housing, and food. How much can housing be? That depends on what you're willing to take. You can get a nice place on AirBnB. Or you can book a hostel for relatively cheaper, but be cramped inside a crowded room. Or you can really be adventurous and Couchsurf. Food will be as good as you're willing to pay for, though there are exceptions to this rule (food in Hanoi = cheap and delicious).
4.) Family trips
Okay, so this one is a little less out of your control, but still a great way to get out there. The hard part about this kind of travel is that you usually get stuck with what your family wants to do. You tend to stick around them most of the time. I enjoy time with them, but then make it a priority to split off from them from time to time to explore the new places on your own without judgment.
A brilliant man once said, "Nothing is impossible". No matter what your situation is, if you really want something, it is up to you to find a unique solution to it. If you dream of traveling to Japan, Brazil, or Australia: just know that you have the power to make it happen.
Is there somewhere you've been dying to travel to? Instead of asking why should I go there, have you ever asked yourself "Why not"? Comment below and tell me!
Follow me on Instagram at @theEvanLe and on Snapchat at @evanle95.