As a 26 year old Black woman who has visited 12 countries since turning 20, I have some gems to share with you. I'm here to set a few things straight when it comes to traveling in your 20's - because the internet has a lot of us thinking one way about travel when in reality, half of that stuff isn't even real. I know IG influencers make me feel like I'm waaaay behind when in reality, I'm blessed and right where I need to be.
Here are 10 truths you need to hear about traveling in your 20's - and none of them will say "you can't do it" because I'm proof you can. These truths are intended to help you navigate what comes with traveling internationally at a young age that most people don't talk about.
1. Reset Your Expectations, They Might Be Unrealistic
It's very realistic to travel internationally in your 20's. I've been fortunate enough to visit over 10 countries in the past 6 years, so if you commit to doing it you absolutely can.
You might have to adjust your expectations when it comes to how often you travel internationally, because those trips add up quick! Social media can make it seem like you should be going to a new country every few months when that's just not realistic for about 95% of people in their 20's. We are establishing a foundation for our lives - and trying to make money - so spending thousands of dollars every 2 months is just... not realistic.
2. Understand That Your Financial Resources are Limited
If you're like me and you've just now really starting to get into the career field you love, you're at an entry level! Entry level usually means making enough money to live - but NOT enough to have thousands in extra funds.
You're probably juggling rent, bills, at-home leisure expenses, kids if you have them, and so much more. We just aren't established enough (yet) to blow thousands of dollars on a vacation. And if you are - you're blessed!
Plus, in this 2023 economy, people in their 20's are trying to figure out how to decrease the cost of groceries because $4 for a dozen eggs is WILD.
3. You're Vulnerable When Traveling - Especially Alone
I hate to say it, but as a young traveler, you're simply more vulnerable to unpleasant experiences. Traffickers will underestimate you, assume you're not familiar with the location (which you probably aren't) and may follow you around until you've let your guard down.
Don't let this be something to stop you from traveling completely, but you need to keep this in mind when you're exploring new destinations.
4. If You Travel Too Often, Your Career Might Suffer
If you're in your 20's, you are probably still building a reputation in your industry, learning the field and gaining important career-building insights. Traveling too often will take you away from that path (unless you're a travel influencer) and might set you back.
It won't be impossible to catch back up, but just know that if you can't work virtually and you need to be present physically to advance your career, traveling too often will affect you.
5. Your Perspective on Life Will Change... A Lot
Traveling the world and exposing yourself to different walks of life is the quickest way to make you question what you do, how you do it, and if it's the best choice for you. Be ready to start questioning your upbringing, your lifestyle, even your diet.
This is what happens when you're traveling and fall in love with the culture. I can tell you right now that ever since I visited Western Europe, I've been dreaming of the day I can move there, live in a row house and walk the cobblestone streets to a cafe every day.
6. It May Be Hard To Maintain Romantic Relationships at Home
Unless you and your boo travel together every time, it could be hard to maintain a relationship. This may not reign true for everyone, but from my experience a lot of people can get a sense of FOMO or fear of missing out if their partner is constantly traveling without them.
I've always found that most people who travel very often in their 20's are single and mingling, it's just easier that way. You, as the traveler, won't feel like you're being held back, and your non-traveling partner won't resent you for leaving them at home.
(This is not relationship advice! lol)
7. Post Travel Blues Are Too Real
Jumping back into a slow paced, monotonous lifestyle after traveling the world is just... lack luster! It can be easy to feel sad when you head back home and jump into working the day after you arrive.
I think this one depends on the type of person you are and what's waiting for you when you get back home. This isn't really something I struggle with, but I know lot's of people in their 20's who start planning their next trip before they even get back home, and in my opinion, this is partially the reason.
8. You Run The Risk of Being Exploited
This one is similar to #3 on the list. As a young traveler, you're more vulnerable to vendors, restaurants and anything you purchase being overpriced or lower quality. They assume you don't know any better. Street vendors may invite you to see their products, ask you to try something on and then demand you pay them for the item even if you don't want to keep it.
This is a tactic used in a lot of tourist locations, and the best way to avoid it is doing your research on the destination or asking locals what they would pay, simply getting a second opinion from someone who isn't trying to get your money.
9. It Can Get Lonely
Traditionally, someone who is only in their 20's hasn't had much time away from their family or friends. They might even still live at home, so traveling to another country could be both liberating and lonely.
Without your usual support system, you're forced to navigate stressful or unfamiliar situations alone and this can sometimes cause homesickness. But one thing's for sure, the more you go through trials alone, the better you'll be at handling it and problem solving.
10. You'll Remember These Moments For The Rest of Your Life
Probably the most important one on the list! Your 20's are a time period for self-discovery, independence, and new experiences. Traveling in your 20's allows you to meet new people, step out of your comfort zone, and ultimately create the pathway for who you'll become later in life. So enjoy it! Take risks! Be undaunted and adventurous. And use resources like this one to help you along the way.
I hope the post provided insights about traveling in your 20's. Leave a comment on which one resonated with you the most and don't forget to share this with your traveling friends. Talk soon!