Why You Should Travel When You’re Young

Traveling is wonderful at any age so long as you’re physically and mentally fit at a reasonable level. This past summer my 85 year old father made his second consecutive summer trip to visit to Ireland, all the way from Florida. He had a fantastic time. We were even able to do some moderate hiking, so long as the incline wasn’t too steep. And on our recent trip to Malaysia, in the jungle, we met some wonderful and intrepid older Brits and Swedes in their 60’s and 70’s that we shared great laughs with. But if you desire it and are able, you should still try and travel when you’re young. With hard work, sacrifice, saving, and careful planning, traveling is within the grasp of the majority of younger people in Western countries.

Plitvice Lakes Park, Croatia

It’s Easier to Be Cheap When you Travel when You’re Young

12 years ago Bell and I met in a dingy hostel in Brugge, Belgium. And to this day we still sometimes stay in some rather rundown places so we can afford to see more of the world. But we find that now that we’re in our 30’s, we’ve gotten more accustomed to being comfortable. So for us, we would find it more difficult to backpack around Europe and share a room with 11 other people in single beds like we did when we met out of college. There are older people traveling on very small budgets, but in general, this gets tougher.

When You have the Money You Don’t have the Time 

As we accumulate more work experience, we tend to make more money. The catch-22 here is that with more money usually comes less time. That quick trip around Europe is more expensive. While you can see many highlights, there is less time to savor a destination. Slow travel is wonderful for experiencing how locals live.

Hofbräuhaus München

Seeing the World with a Twinkle in your Eye 

When you’re in your late teens and early twenties, you’re just starting to find yourself in the real world. Chances are you haven’t had a mortgage, kids, or the pressure to have them.

We have very good friends who have children and are taking their kids on trips with them to enjoy the world. But there is something special about youthful exuberance taking in the world with fresher and less experienced eyes. On the flip side, some youngins’ are just partying way too much. So exploring the world with more life experience can offer a greater appreciation.

Health Problems 

Another great thing about youth is generally enjoying better health. If we’re lucky, we only start getting minor physical ailments as we hit our 30s. An uncomfortable bed in a youth hostel or budget hotel is not likely to bother the back of a 20-something. But it sure can cause more grief for even 30 something’s like us.

As we age our digestive systems tend to work slower. I know because I’m used to traveling with lactose intolerance. So being adventurous with foreign foods can be a bit more problematic. These are just a couple examples of smaller issues. With each passing year our risk for more serious illnesses increases.

Father’s Day dinner at the Granville Hotel in Waterford, Ireland.

Setting a precedent

We have some friends who are interested to travel. They’re fully able, but are often scared to leave the United States, even to come to Europe. They are fixated on negative portrayals of foreign travel that they see on TV. Yes, occasionally someone disappears or gets killed on their adventure. These things happen at home too. You’re also more likely to die in a car accident.

For many, the longer they go without traveling, the more they get set in their ways. This also means a person might be less likely to enjoy foreign food and appreciate cultural differences.

No Guarantees in Life 

This goes without saying as any day could be the last for all of us. It’s a great idea to plan for retirement, especially in the current economic climate. But since it’s not promised to any of us, don’t get too carried away thinking about the future. Take time to be present in the current moments, even small ones, and appreciate them. And if you have an interest in travel, throw caution to the wind and get out there when you can!

West coast of Ireland


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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6 thoughts on “Why You Should Travel When You’re Young

  1. Great points! My husband and I are preparing financially for long-term travel now, so we are waiting, but only for the next 1-2 years. You never know the kind of things health might prevent you from doing!

    1. Awesome, Deia! For many people some extra years won’t make a difference, but there’s been a few things for Bell and I and we’re 33 and 35 respectively. Bell has developed an allergy to the tannins in red wine, which she used to love. That was a big bummer for her on recent trips to France and Spain.

      For me I now have sleep apnea and my lactose intolerance has gotten worse. So if I were staying in a shared hostel room I’d feel rather self conscious about sleeping with a hose attached to my face with 11 other people in the room!

  2. That last picture is awesome 🙂 It’s funny what you mention in the part about ‘setting a precedent’. Those are the same feelings parents in Europe may have when their children are travelling to the USA (all those guns, you know) 😉 But the fun thing about travelling is that you can see that stories and worries are just that, stories and worries, and not necessarily the truth!

    1. Thank you for the complement! 🙂 And thanks for bringing our attention to something we don’t think about – European parents scared about their children traveling to the USA because of all the guns. We can certainly understand where that fear would come from, but as you as well know only a tiny minority of European visitors to the USA will have a run in with a gun. Of course, if people don’t exercise common sense and wind up in areas they shouldn’t be in, then those chances will increase by a lot. Sadly there’s a lot of poverty in American cities, and poverty breeds violence and crime.

  3. All great points!! We see many retired people here in Costa Rica and sure they got lots of money to have a huge house, nice things but then they can’t exactly go ziplining and hiking all in one day’s time. I don’t want to finally have the money but be 70 and old and can’t exactly enjoy it! Do it while you are young 🙂 And you learn SO much while traveling that just makes you grow and mature. So many great reasons !

    1. Hey Samantha! We’ve never been to Costa Rica but we’re guessing that would be an awesome place to retire (along with visiting anytime). I’ve wanted to go to Costa Rica for many years but grew up in Florida so I was more interested to go further away and sun and beaches in foreign countries wasn’t as important given the all the nearby Florida beaches. Now we live in Europe so the Mediterranean is on our doorstep. But someday we shall get to Costa Rica! :)…You bring up an excellent point about the education travelling provides, which is handy to gather in your youth and grow older with. We still don’t have kids but if we do we’ll be sure to teach them to be open minded and to think for themselves. This is a big world with many valid ideas of how to have a functioning society in most peoples quest to live a happy and fulfilling life. Thanks for sharing, cheers! 🙂

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