-- at some point in their 20s. probably even 30s.
First - some back story: I quit my job and I’ve been traveling in Thailand for almost 2 months now. I can honestly say this is one of the greatest life decisions I’ve made. It cost me nearly $15,000 in time away from work, a bit of pride waking up in a McDonalds at 4am, and I've injured myself quite a bit; but I’ve learned so much about me, what I want in life and what truly makes me happy.
I’m no travel guru, I haven’t been everywhere, I don’t know everything, and I mess up regularly. I do know however, that this is something you should do if it has ever crossed your mind.
Who. What. When. Where. Why.
A silly format, but I think it breaks down this whole argument in the best way possible.
You obviously. You’re unhappy, unsatisfied, or maybe ‘something’ is missing and you’re not sure what. Hello! Welcome to everyone's inner monologue. We’re not that different as human beings, we feel the same, we think similarly (especially with social media nowadays), and we all rarely follow through on our impulses or ideas for various often pathetic reasons.
Be different. Not for your significant other. Not for your family. Not for anyone. Do it for you.
TRAVEL THE WORLD, probably not, but at least get out an see something vastly different. It’s 2017 motherfuckaaaa! You can literally go anywhere in the world above ground, underwater gets tricky. Also Visas, can be interesting for some folk, but that's another topic.
If you’re not a traveler or have zero inkling to travel, you probably aren’t reading this post; and that’s fine! Some people are home bodies, they dig their niche and enjoy the comfort. I will however say one of the top 25 regrets people have on their deathbed is not traveling more, so I’d suggest busting out a bit. :)
There will NEVER be a “perfect time”. Let me write that again. There. Will. Never. Be. A. Perfect. Time. To. Travel. Don’t count on it, don’t plan on it, life’s gonna happen, your car engine could blow up the day before your flight, you never know. You just pick a date, and roll with it. While I do suggest preparing appropriately, I’ve met people who have done this with nothing but a backpack and $800. In all honestly it’s probably actually easier that way.. you’ve got nothing to lose, no consequences.. but alas that’s not most people.
So how do you prepare?
Come to the realization that work is work, you’ll always be able to find another job, work is not your life. I had a cushy job out of college, it took me a minute to figure this out.
Save an emergency fund. 3-6mo is ‘standard’, 1-2mo should suffice for your initial journey; r/personalfinance would kill me for saying that.
Pay off short term debt. Don’t travel carrying any credit card balances. It’s dumb. Student Loans, Car loans, Mortgages, long term debt is fine. That balance you’re carrying from those Nike Air Yeezy 2's you bought but couldn’t afford is not.
Start a blog. Duh. (*sarcasm* - but journaling while traveling is an incredible tool whether you publish or not.)
Book a flight. (Save money! Do it cheap! Do it with credit card points!)
Give your work appropriate notice if required.
To expand though, I think this is one of the most important questions, not because the location matters but because the situation matters. To get those ‘wow' moments of growth you’re probably looking for, travel somewhere that you know absolutely nobody and someplace that you know absolutely nothing about. I truly believe this is a key factor in learning how you deal with awkward/dangerous situations, loneliness, your inner monologue, decision making, figuring out what you wake up for, and quite generally --life.
You could’ve just knocked up that girl you're laying next to as you stumbled across this post making travel plans. You could lose both your legs in a car accident tomorrow because some dude couldn't control his mustang brake stand. The person texting and driving just sent you and your motorcycle into a guard rail at 85. Poof. Shit happens.
But more realistically, you are going to wake up tomorrow with your Grandkids asking you what your favorite place in the world is and you'll come to the realization that you're not sure because you haven't sampled the amazing places this planet offers.
Traveling is easier than ever. The world is more accepting than ever. You’re only getting older.
Get out there.