Why You Should Travel NOW Instead of Waiting Until Retirement
Many people have a dream of traveling around the world. When asked why aren't they doing it already, their answer is usually the same: I'll do it later, when x, y, or z happen. For those that don't know, x, y, and z, refer to retiring, paying off the house, or waiting until they have fewer obligations. For those thinking they'll travel when they retire, I urge you to throw that thought into the garbage, go to Expedia or Kayak and go book your ticket to go somewhere, NOW.
There are many reasons it is a mistake to wait until later on in life to travel and see the planet. Here is my list of the most important reasons why you should stop waiting until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.
1. There are many tour companies that now limit the age limits on the tours in which you can go. From Top Deck, to Contiki, and more, these are some exciting and pioneering tour companies with exciting adventures organized. The problem is if you're 35 or 39 in some cases you can't go on their tours. And yes, their tours can be exciting, which leads me to my second point...
2. When you're older you may not have the energy, immune system, ability, or even desire to do the exciting trips that you could handle when you were younger. When I'm 65 I don't think i'll have the wherewithal to be transported down a narrow tributary off the Mekong Delta in 120 degree weather, trekking through the jungle, and then having a snake slaughtered so we could take a shot of its blood (all of this occurring within 10 minutes).
One of the goals of traveling is to see and do as much as possible. While you can see some tourist traps from the comfort of an air conditioned bus, those sorts of trip are better reserved for when you CAN'T handle the tougher stuff anymore.
Because of your possible physical limitations this can limit where you go and what time or year you go. Trust me - there is a big difference between going on a trip to Phnom Penh in Cambodia versus Venice, Italy. The heat, food, bacteria is totally different. Do you really want to travel with limitations?
3. You may have more obligations when you're older that prevent you from traveling. While many think that once their student loans are paid off, or the kids have moved out, or that they'll be more financial stable later on in life, they may be gravely disappointed. You don't know what the future will hold. What if you kid needs your help until they're older? If you decide to help with their schooling your finances may get tied up. We often keep getting into new projects so what if you never get to a point of being better with your finances? Are you really going to be able to afford it any better in the future than now?
4. The countries you want to travel to won't be the same. Think about it: the the increase in global travel increasing every year, even the most obscure little town in Indonesia is becoming modernized. What does that mean? The romanticism of being away from society in some isolated area may be something that is hard to find. As people and tour companies "discover" more off-the-beaten path places to visit, all of these little town will have Starbucks and McDonald's. I'm always amazed when I travel to places to find how much they've changed. That's not necessarily a good thing from a tourism standpoint.
5. You may not be able to experience certain attractions. Consider Chichen Itza outside of Cancun, Mexico. Ten years ago, you could climb the step of the main pyramid. Now they've shut that down to preserve the building since people were damaging it. Even Machu Picchu has limited how many visitors can visit the site every day. Are you sure that you'll be able to go inside of the great pyramids of Egypt in twenty years? Go now before it's too late!
6. It's harder to travel to exotic locations with more people. Sorry but if you wait until you're older you're probably going to have to take your spouse, kids, grandkids, and who knows who else. The cost of your trip just went up by a factor of 10. It also made it a lot more difficult to get around. Have you ever tried running through an airport with a folded up stroller in one hand, and a third pound back of diapers etc. in the other? Not fun.
7. Travel right now is CHEAP. Consider, you can fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo or Bangkok for $400 USD. Think you could have done that twenty years ago? Never. Right now we're riding a great wave of prosperity in the USA where the dollar is strong, gas prices are cheap which translate into great savings. If you wait too long, things may get cost prohibitive.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Life is short and it tends to go by faster than you think so waiting for it to be "the right time" to live the life you want to live is the worst thing that you can do! Enjoy life and take a trip somewhere before it's too late.