Asleep on beach

Photo by Frerieke

A lot of people tell me they’d love to take six months or a year off to travel and explore the world, but feel chained to their cubicles by societal expectations. Hitting the road for months on end simply doesn’t seem like a viable option to most people in their twenties or thirties because there are so many other “more responsible” things they have to do beforehand. “I need to establish my career first” is the number one excuse I hear over and over again. But what if I told you there was a way to take an extended trip without taking a year out of your career?

First, let’s project a little into the future. How many years do you think you’ll spend working in your life? 30? 40? More? In the United States, the normal retirement age for people born after 1960 is 67. So lets assume that’s when you’ll retire. You’ll then be free to do whatever you want, including – finally – travel the world! But can you imagine hauling around a backpack and trekking through the Andes at that age? Or sitting on a plane, cramped up in cattle class for 20 hours? Your travel options are clearly going to be limited.

So here’s my advice: take the time to travel right now, and think of it as taking one year of your retirement early. You can always make up for it by working for a year longer down the track and retiring at 68 instead.

Traveling before you’ve established a career isn’t so bad anyway. In fact, it’ll likely be harder to hit the road once you’re settled and on track for a promotion, or about to make partner at your law firm. Remember, there’s never really a good time for something like travel, it’s simply a matter of making it a priority in your life. And who knows, seeing the world might open your eyes to career options you never realized existed.