Is It Better to Travel When You’re Younger or Older?

People tend to propagate the idea that you should travel while you’re still young. After all, you’re usually unencumbered by the responsibilities of marriage, children, and a mortgage when you’re in your early twenties, right? However, this might give you the ominous feeling that time may be running out for you to see the world, or that there’s a cut-off date for when you can truly enjoy travelling. Is travelling when you’re young really better than waiting until you’re older? What are the pros and cons of each? When IS the right time to travel? Let’s find out!

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“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

The biggest argument for travelling while you’re young is that, as mentioned above, you usually don’t have to juggle the same responsibilities that you would when you’re older. You’ll have time to look for a steady job later, to put on that suit and join the echelons of ‘responsible’ people, but for now you want to satiate your wanderlust. Travel can offer a young person the opportunity for self-discovery and help them to grow and mature as they deal with the challenges of life in a foreign country. You’re never quite as adaptable to sticky situations as when you’re young and your brain is flexible to change. It’s easier to pick up new languages and customs and you tend to fit into a new culture with a lot more ease.

The downside of travelling when you’re young is the lack of financial stability that generally comes with it. You’ll probably find yourself living on Ramen noodles while slumming it out in a hostel at some point (I know I have), or trying to make the decision between buying a train ticket to another location or upgrading to a new pair of tennis shoes because you simply can’t afford both (also been there). Not having a lot of money to fall back on can also mean having to sacrifice taking part in certain cultural experiences or new activities simply because you don’t have the extra cash for it.

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“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

As opposed to travelling when you’re young, if you travel when you’re older you are likely to be more financially secure and can afford more luxurious travel. There won’t be any hostels for you, because you can actually afford a hotel room! Having fewer financial limitations also means that you have more flexibility when it comes to choosing where you want to go and the activities you want to take part in while you’re there. While the young traveller might opt for backpacking around Asia because travelling in Europe is outside their budget, you can make the choice to do either or both! With age also comes experience and wisdom. You’ll be savvier when you travel and, according to some experts, less likely to fall prey to scams as a result.

The huge downside of waiting until you’re older to travel is that you have no way of knowing what obstacles could crop up in your life that may prevent you from following your dreams later on. I personally know a couple people who planned on waiting until they were retired to enjoy travelling the world, only to have to put those plans on hold due to illness or any number of other factors. There’s definitely some truth in the saying: ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.’ The future is always uncertain, which is why sometimes it’s best to take those risks without overthinking the consequences—at least when it comes to seeing the world!

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Travel can be beneficial at any age. You can enjoy it whether you’re 18 or 80 and have truly fantastic experiences along the way! And while I’m glad that there is no ‘right’ time to travel, I have to say this: don’t put it off. Plan those trips into your life so you don’t miss out on making some truly wonderful memories!

What do you think are some of the benefits of travelling when you’re young? What about when you’re older? What are some of the cons? Share your experiences with us in the Comments section!