Updated: May 29, 2018
If you are reading this and have recently completed your degree program - Bachelors, Masters, or otherwise - first and foremost, please accept my sincere congratulations! Such a huge accomplishment and a decision that will benefit you and your future for years to come! Woohoo!
Today's post is all about why I am offering to you the following advice: #gotravel. You may be asking yourself, "Who is this blog author and why should I trust this recommendation?" Excellent critical thinking skills, graduate. For the next few minutes, all you need to to know is that I was once or twice in your shoes moving the tassel, that I have lived a lot since then (#thirtysomething now), and - most importantly - this is the advice I would go back and give myself. Here it goes, and in no particular order.
International Travel and the American Passport
Did you know that as an American citizen, you have access to one of the most powerful passports in the world? Head on over to The Passport Index where you can see all of the amazing places you can visit visa-free simply because you hold a passport from the grand, ole United States of America. Although mobility has declined a bit under the current administration, you can still visit over 150 countries without obtaining a visa. To give you an idea of how #extra the US passport actually is, Canadian passport holders are free to roam in just over 140 countries while the Mexican passport allows easy access to just over 130 countries (source: The Power of your Passport). My point here is simple. Yes, our country - and every country - has its issues, but it's still great to be an American. We are fortunate and privileged to be able to travel internationally with relative ease - use that perk now if you are not doing so already!
You are intelligent - you just graduated! If you don't want to listen to me, perhaps some of these gems from the ancient Greek philosopher #Socrates will convince you to #neverstoplearning through #travel.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. You may be an expert at biochemistry or a marketing genius, but I doubt you know what it's like to live on less than a dollar a day #justsayin. Experience new things and acknowledge that you don't have it all figured out. #stayhumbleandkind
Be as you wish to seem. Do you want to seem approachable and to be able to connect with others from various backgrounds? Do you want to - at minimum - demonstrate you know the difference between foie gras and pâté even if you don't care for either of them? Do you want to appear cultured, for example, always offering the right bloom for the occasion (i.e. knowing that chrysanthemums aren't a festive fall decoration and typically offered during periods of mourning)? If so, #travel - it can't teach you everything, but it can broaden your horizons like nothing else in life.
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. Life was apparently stressful in Athens back in the day, too. Thanks for the reminder, Socrates! Take some time for yourself after several years of plugging away in the library late a night. #Unplug #Wander #GoGetLost
I could go on, but you get the picture. Not only do I want you to travel, but Socrates does, too.
Protect your Investment
If you have been enrolled in an institution in the US and are graduating, I'm going to bet on the fact that your education has a significant price tag. Back in 2014-2015, the average cost of all four-year post-secondary schools (public and private) was about $25,000 per year #fastfact, and that has only increased. We all know that these figures do not cover many other costs such as housing, meals, books, a social life, etc. I personally do not know anyone who has finished a four-year degree in only one or two years, so go ahead and multiply all of those yearly expenses by four or five to get the grand total on your college education. One of my favorite travel-related quotes - author anonymous - is:
The only thing in life that makes you richer is travel.
A college degree - or some type of post-secondary education - is the new high-school diploma; you have to have it to move up the food chain, financially speaking. You've already completed this first step by earning your degree; why not continue to invest in yourself through travel? Think of what you have spent so far, and it's easy to justify traveling with the purpose of self-enrichment. You have a six-month grace period on those student loans, so apply for your passport, buy your airfare, and hit the road now!
I know one thing that kept me from traveling more when I was younger was the excuse of, "Well, I don't have anyone to travel with" or "All my friends are working and can't go." Plus, it seemed logical to me at the time to organize the perfect posse of travel buddies: the language nerd (me), the map reader (smartphones and GPS at one's fingertips did not exist, yet), the numbers-savvy accounting major, the whole "safety in numbers" chat from my parents echoing in my head, and so on. Lucky for you, #solotravel is on the rise. Last year alone, searches for solo travel experiences increased by over 140%, and 2018 is expected to be one of the busiest international travel years in recent history. This article succinctly sums up that:
more women travel solo than men
only 11% of travelers are solos (but that is a huge increase from previous years)
traveling in groups with other solos reduces the cost of travel
Europe is the hottest destination
Americans are more likely to travel solo than other nationalities
The only negative - considering you are a graduate - is that the average age of a solo traveler exceeds 50 (I know that seems ancient when you are in your twenties or early thirties!). However, after doing a quick Google search with the key words "solo travel twenties," I doubt you'll have any reason to let that bother you - and probably more motivation to consider traveling solo (TONS of resources and articles)! This video always makes me want to jump on a plane to Paris - alone. What about you?
The Seasons of Life
You are in a beautiful season of life, though it may be #youngandbroke. You definitely are not #youngdumbandbroke. Now that I have been a parent for over ten years, I long for the more easy-going days of my twenties. My children are just now to the point where travel is a bit easier - no diapers, naps, or 1000 snacks to carry around at all times - so I am letting the #travelbug bite more freely, and man it feels great. I do wish that I had taken advantage more frequently of those days more than ten years ago when I could've skipped town, hopped on a plane, or stamped my passport with zero restrictions. I kept it pretty traditional and accepted a full-time, salaried position directly after completing the Bachelors degree. I don't regret that, but I definitely adopted the #workmode routine quickly and became one of those Americans who doesn't use all of the allotted vacation days #gasp (even though I had the earnings to budget for travel, why???). It sounds ridiculous, but you do feel pressure to advance your career once you are in the workforce. My older, wiser self now appreciates the small moments, time for myself and my health, and the ability to experience and become more knowledgeable about this big, beautiful world in which we have the privilege of living. I hope you'll consider how quickly ten years pass by and think twice before ditching your vacation days or not taking time out to travel. It's a different kind of learning and growing, and you shouldn't consider the idea of learning to be over now that you have a diploma in hand. Or, maybe you are reading this and feel stuck in the daily grind of life. Go, learn, travel - you'll enrich yourself in so many new ways, and be more productive upon your return. This is the #seasonoflife for carefree travel!
My last words of wisdom are not mine, but those of poet #RobertFrost:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Bon Voyage et Belle Balade
#graduation2018 #femaletravelbloggers #travelblogger #ladiesgoneglobal #sheisnotlost #wearetravelgirls #girlswhotravel #girlsaroundtheworld #familytravel #beautifuldestinations #womenwhoexplore #bestvacations #travelinspiration #dametraveller #dametraveler #wanderlust #wander #letsgosomewhere #awesomeglobe #exploretocreate #baladeblog