Robert Schrader in Thailand

Should You Travel in Your 20s?

Having traveled to nearly 50 countries by the time I was just 28 years of age, I’m obviously a proponent of traveling young. Perhaps surprisingly (or perhaps not, depending on who you are), I’m the child of parents who have always highly discouraged me from “wasting” my money on travel.

To me, the benefits of traveling in your 20s hugely outweigh the potential disadvantages, although certain risks do exist. But if you’re in your 20s and want to travel – and particularly, if your parents or other loved ones are as discouraging as mine were during my early 20s – this post should prove inspirational to you.

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Travel vs. School/Work

The leading factor that dissuades most young people from traveling is a feeling of commitment to school and/or work. This is due as much to underlying assumptions – that shirking “responsibility” (school or work) in favor of “leisure” (travel) is frivolous – as it is to economics: Students and young people who haven’t worked a lot often lack the financial resources to travel!

Some young people, on the other hand, feel the need to “start their careers” before traveling, which gives them a feeling of security, be it illusory of real. There are two problems, generally speaking, with this outlook. The first is that the further into your career you get, the harder it will be to take the time needed to travel extensively. I’ll get to the second in just a moment.

My advice for young people who want to travel is this. Get a job in an industry or sector that is lucrative, but doesn’t require a long-term time commitment. Service industry jobs in restaurants and cafés are great for this, as are classroom jobs teaching English overseas. Or, you could do like I did, and become location-independent!

The Travel Thirst

The second reason “waiting” to travel can be problematic is that, simply put, the more “settled” into your life you get, the less motivated you will be to step outside your comfort zone, including to travel. The so-called “travel thirst” is generally more pronounced among younger people, although exceptions obviously do exist.

Practically speaking, traveling while you most want to travel has many implications. You’ll go to more off-the-beaten-path destinations that you would visit otherwise (say, Myanmar instead of Vietnam or Thailand), do more outlandish things when you get there (how does hiking up the world’s second-highest waterfall sound?) and devote more time to travel than you might do later in life.

Another advantage of traveling while you’re young, and when your travel thirst is strong, has to do with economics – the more you want to travel, the harder you’ll work to finance your travels!

Travel and Physical Fitness

Yet another advantage to traveling in your 20s is that the younger you are, the more fit and energetic you tend to be. Again, I realized that there are exceptions to this rule (as much because of fit older people as because of extremely unfit younger people), but the fact remains that you’re only young once, and young bodies generally travel better than their older counterparts.

Building on what I mentioned in the last section, traveling while fit and energetic will motivate you to complete more physically-demanding activities while traveling, whether you hike, bike, rock climb or even jump off cliffs.

Being fit also affords you more travel stamina, allowing you to travel for longer periods at a time, and also to fit more activities into each day, thus getting the most out of each trip.

Travel as a Child-Free Person

Much has been made of “solo travel” in recent years, particularly on this blog. Of course, I would never knock travel with a friend or romantic partner!

I would also never knock traveling with a child – some of my fellow travel bloggers have practically made this an art – but I do think that traveling before you have children, whether you have a partner or not, is easier than after you have them.

Since people in the 20s are, generally speaking, more likely to be child-free, this is just one of the many advantages that exist to traveling while in your 20s.

About The Author

is the author of 1073 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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Elle May 2, 2013 at 9:43 am

I agree and disagree with this post. I am in my late 20s, and I am definitely a solo traveler but I am really excited to travel in my 30s. Some of my older “wandering” friends say the same thing. They are a bit more confident, and a female friends feels more secure when traveling now that she is 33. My parents are also really big into traveling, and think it is the best way to spend money.

While I did take a break in before going to college, a really great option for those students that want to travel study abroad is a great way to get a taste of traveling. It is a good starting off point for the intrepid traveler.

I definitely agree that you should never put off traveling! Go out and see the world…there is plenty of time to work later.

Robert Schrader May 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Interesting perspective, Elle! I too look forward to being a travelin’ 30something, but I’m glad I started in my 20s!

Rich May 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

One thing’s for sure: if you want to see the world, you should do it now rather than later!

Cost of air travel is going to soar over the next 10 years… in 20 years it might be completely out of reach of anyone but the very well off. The days of air travel being within reach of the middle classes are numbered, so go while you can.

Jauntéa Maxey May 8, 2013 at 8:53 am

Has anyone traveled solo to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, or Indonesia (Burneo [Kalimantan], Bali, or Lombok) specifically? I am looking to go, but I have never traveled alone like that, except in the Azorean Islands.

DJ May 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I served in the military and by the time I was 19 I traveled to 11 countries. It was a different way of seeing the world but by the time I was 21 I clocked in another 7 countries, all at Uncle Sam’s expense. Actually while I worked in my career and especially in my mid 30’s and early forties, my wife and I traveled to 5 countries. All in all do the traveling when you are young as long as you can afford it.

Catpower May 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I have travelled solo to most of those countries. Generally speaking SE Asia is a dream to travel to. Easy to get around, cheap, amazing food and in lots of those places, you can meet plenty of other travelers (if that’s what you want). Book!

Anita Mac May 17, 2013 at 11:48 am

I am all for traveling at any age….like most things in life, it should know no bounds! I am glad I got my education first….although I can see careers being tough with a year or two off for travel! I left home after university and traveled, but also worked….had the best of both worlds. I managed to do it while most of my friends pursued second degrees. I feel my life experiences and one degree are more than I need to present a well rounded person to the interviewers….although I do downplay my travel talks while interviewing…I have had the first person congratulate me on my courage and risk taking, only to be knocked back by the decision maker who didn’t understand how anyone would travel such as I had. Win some loose some – would not trade my wanderlust ways for anything….keep on traveling – age should not be a factor!

James November 18, 2013 at 5:30 am

I did those exact countries you just mentioned alone in 2012. Start in Bangkok and head north into Laos back down cambodia and into Vietnam north. Fly from Hanoi to back to Bangkok, do the southern islands, travel down through malaysia to KL (then onto Singapore.) Fly to Bali, and then meet people who you can travel across from Bali to Lombok with and even further East I recommend Flores big time! But I would avoid arriving there alone if possible.

Good luck

Mack February 21, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Totally agree that if you have a travel “thirst” you need to quench it before you get tied down by career, family, etc., and that in your 20s you have maximum stamina to do so. Long-term immersion travel (as opposed to quick vacation trips) is the best way to gain various perspectives with which to view the world, and to define your identity within it. I sold my car and gave away all of my other possessions at 27 and bought a 1 way ticket to Thailand, which turned into a 6 year wander all around everywhere. I supported myself mostly by volunteering in exchange for food and a bed (as a lifeguard, English teacher, music promoter, etc.) and discovered that if you put yourself out there, and treat everyone with unconditional respect, karma is true! It takes courage not to know what is coming next (but to be excited *because* of this fact), and to uproot yourself when things start getting comfortable. Utopia is no one place for too long…

The purpose of my journey was to make stories. For anyone interested:

Robert Schrader February 26, 2014 at 2:26 am

Thanks for sharing your story, Mack! I hope my readers are inspired by it.

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