I apologize for the lengthy gap between posts, the internet here on Gili Trawangan is pretty terrible and has discouraged us from doing much blogging. Most of my computer time has been spent searching for job openings, writing cover letters and touching up my resume. It is getting to that point of the trip that I have been dreading since we began - figuring out what the hell we're going to do when we get back. I've had a year to think carefully about my career and where I might see myself back in the U.S.; I've got some ideas. And this feeling of dread, this temporary homelessness and unemployment once we're back, it will all be 100% worth it. Quitting my job last year was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I made the right decision, a decision I think way more people my age should take advantage of.
Immediately after graduation I began putting away money every month to take a trip around the world. I didn't know when it would happen, where I would go or who I would go with, but I knew I had to do it before I turned 30. Once you're 30, it's time to buy a house. It's time to get married, get a dog. Your 20's are over, you need security and stability in order to settle down and proceed on your path to middle age. I knew I would want these things eventually, even if at 22 it seemed to be in the far off, distant future. Some of them I wanted even then, I would have loved to have a pet for those 5 years living in Chicago. But when the travel bug has sunk its teeth in you, you've got to prioritize it above all else.
My savings goal before the trip was $25,000. It may seem a bit high, but I didn't want to have to think too hard about money while abroad. We both wanted to be able to eat out whenever we pleased, stay at higher quality hostels and guest houses, and take part in a few costly activities such as the Everest Base Camp Trek and scuba diving. It ended up being the perfect amount, especially for the length of time we spent in Europe, and I should make it clear that I think traveling before your 30 is only a good idea if you have the necessary funds. Depending on where you decide to go you can travel on far less, but if you're making ramen and staying in bedbug infested dorms every night, I don't think it's worth it. The anxiety and discomfort will get to you and your entire experience will have a big, dark money cloud hanging over it.
So you have the savings and the desire to travel, but you aren't interested in settling down at 30. You're okay with renting an apartment in your 30's, not into pets, and see no reason why you shouldn't save up more and have an even better trip at 32 than you could ever have at 27. A small part of you might also be terrified of leaving everything you've known behind and don't see the harm of putting it off just a while longer while you prepare yourself mentally. Don't. You need to put on your brave face and pull the trigger. The longer you put it off, the more roots you will develop, furthering the need to remain where you're at. And something else you might not have considered - you won't have enough energy.
I haven't seen that discussed much in travel blogs and websites I've read. Unless you are going at a snail's pace, living out of a backpack for a year is the most exhausting thing you will ever do. Travel days never get easier and just the thought of heaving your 30 lb. pack back on your shoulders to hike on over to the bus station will make you nauseous. In Europe we generally spent around 3 or 4 days in each city and would really have to bust our asses to make sure we got to see everything we wanted to see. We would spend all day long walking, sight seeing, eating and then we'd finally get back to our beds and immediately pass out, only to do it all over again the next day. I'm sure glad we did Europe at the start of our trip because I honestly feel like I am already too old and low energy for that. If I was trying to do this at 32 we would have needed to cut down the number of destinations in half, limit nights out and socialization, and generally be more like old people on holiday. You don't want to be like old people on holiday, you want a fast-paced, life changing adventure that you will never forget.
If you are on the fence about traveling, teetering between settling down and what is left of your youth, you owe it to yourself to take the plunge. It is something you will never regret and if you don't now, then when? There is never going to be a more opportune time. And if you don't do it, you will be asking yourself why you didn't for the rest of your life.