How to know if you should travel the world, or stay home for your career or business.
When I was researching this topic, I set out with a fairly strong opinion on it to be honest. Then I came across some strong opposing views surprisingly, and they did shake my beliefs a bit, I'm not gonna lie.
And for soooo many of you, especially the 20- and 30-somethings, this conflict of should I/shouldn't I travel the world, can be so crazy-debilitating, that the internal debate can last years, if not decades. So believe me, I feel you. Rest assured however, after digesting all the information I found, conflicting and supporting, I arrived back in my strong opinion, stronger than ever 💪🏻 (I'll share it with you in a bit).
But first thing's first, the reason you're here – you want to know if you should travel the world, or stay home for your career or business. Let me help you with that, or at least help you along in your thinking process.
The first step of this process requires you to be brutally honest with yourself, and what you want from your life. Not easy for sure, but absolutely necessary. Before anything, you have to work out your own personal goals first and foremost.
You're better off focusing on your career or business if:
Your goals consist of –
- big aspirations of paving your way in the corporate/professional world
- building your earning power to impressive, crazy heights
- getting on the property ladder as soon as possible
- maybe achieving CEO-status someday
- being the most professionally successful out of your peers
If this sounds like the life you dream of, travelling is most likely not going to help you achieve any of those things. In fact, this article I came across by career coach Penelope Trunk quite vehemently argues it might just be detrimental to it. I don’t necessarily personally agree with Penelope here as my own bit of travelling brought only positive things to me, but it’s certainly interesting to look at things from a conflicting angle to your own beliefs sometimes (something I’ve personally learnt from living in another country btw).
You might benefit from travelling if:
Your goals consist of –
- a burning desire to explore hidden corners of the world to see how they work first-hand
- maximising your freedom before responsibilities take over
- learning a new language and becoming fluent
- improving your chances of starting a career in the international or education sectors
- escaping a situation you feel is detrimental to your mental health
If any of these sound like you, then trying out travelling and/or living in another country might just be the best thing you ever did. You might've copped by now that I’m an advocate for travelling, at any stage of your life. As I mention in my about page, my own reasons for travel were around escaping a situation that was affecting my mental health. And I believe sometimes (albeit controversially), running away is the perfect antidote. Feck what it might do to my career, I need to fix my head! As it happened, it ironically had a crazy-positive impact on my career too and in my case, my salary practically doubled. But way more importantly than that, the sheer mind expansion I gained from living in another country has been incredible for me. (Bearing in mind that I didn’t even go that far!) But my personal feeling on it, is that if you have a deep desire to see what the world has to offer, you absolutely HAVE to see it. It doesn’t have to be a perfect, 5* trip, in fact the more un-5* and culturally involved you can get, I think the more you're likely to get out of it.
But...there's a caveat. Well a few actually. There are some things to bear in mind if you're pretty sure you want to travel the world or live abroad.
If you've not started your career, you've got to tackle that feeling of being left behind your peers that are focusing on their careers or business.
In contrast to Trunk's argument, I genuinely don't think there’s any rush to be crazy-focused and tick your career boxes by 25. I did just that and encountered all kinds of challenges as a result. (Plus when you give this some context retrospectively, think about the typical year of travelling someone takes – is the fact that one person has 10 years work experience definitely going to get the job over someone with just nine? 🤔 Or will the interviewer take more stuff into consideration? Food for thought). But – if you know you're going to really struggle with that feeling of being 'behind' your mates, then consider if travelling is actually what you really want. Maybe it's not. Maybe you just need some kind of life plan to feel more in control. If you struggle with feeling behind but really want to get over it, I've also got a few tips on how to be totally okay with feeling behind here if you fancy a read.
You need to make sure you can finance it.
This might be stating the obvious, but I don't think setting yourself up in a mountain of debt (potentially on top of student debt too), is the hottest way to kickstart your imperfect life. We want imperfect, yes, but we don't want to feel imprisoned from being completely broke after it all. Maybe being in debt isn't an issue for you personally so feel free to ignore everything I say (!), but taking the route of getting credit for this kind of adventure doesn't sit so well in my stomach.
Having said that, I don't think not having the cash laying about should stop you. Like at all 👉🏻 if anything it should just spur you on to get creative and make it happen.
There's all kinds of tricks to making your money go as far as it can while you're travelling. Like skipping the comfy hotel stay for a cramped sleep on an overnight bus to your next destination; opting for dorm rooms and hostels over that 5* experience I mentioned earlier; getting jobs en-route, maybe even setting yourself up with starting a location-free business or freelancing your way around the globe. There are ways, and people with no cash at all find ways to do it, 52 weeks of the year. Basically, if you want it bad enough, you can get it.
You need to be aware of what things will be like (or won't be like) when you get back.
This is a bit of a weird one, one which I was acutely aware of before I came back to the UK in 2015. When you're away, things do change. People change. The job situation changes. Lives carry on without you. And so they should. Depending on how far flung you might've travelled too, you might've missed out on some key cultural references from not being tuned into Netflix or the latest music, and feel like a complete, out-of-touch alien as a result. Especially when the buzz of coming home dies down. It's an adjustment, and a challenge. And it can feel proper weird.
But you're a different person now too, your mind has been opened more than you ever thought possible and you see pretty much everything from a whole new perspective. And that's something to embrace and feel endlessly grateful for. I'd even go as far to say that I think everyone should travel or live abroad at some point, and the world would be a way more peaceful, understanding place!
I hope I've helped you get a little clearer on whether you think travelling is for you, or whether staying home to focus on your career or your business fits your life goals a little better. But if not and you're still on the fence, try and look at things this way 👉🏻 if for a split second, you think your 80-year self would regret not trying out travelling or living in another country at a time when you physically could, then f*ck me, TRAVEL HONEY! Life’s too freaking valuable and too short for that weight of guilt and regret on your shoulders. Don’t just stick to convention to people-please and keep up with everyone else who didn't choose to travel or live abroad. You absolutely 100% have to do you, and don't let these regrets be yours.
If you've got a friend or family member that's forever dreaming and talking about 'someday, when I go travelling...' I'd love it if you could share this with them. It might just make their dream a reality.
👇🏻 Ooh, before I go...
I mentioned in last week's post about a free 5-day mini-course I've launched that'll help you get some clarity, and kickstart your own life plan. If you think that's something you might get some value from, you can get cracking right here: