Should You Start Traveling Now or Later?

Should You Start Traveling Now or Later?

By |2016-07-01T10:22:53-04:00April 14th, 2015|Travel Tips & Advice|56 Comments

Start Traveling Now
One day we’ll meet up at a cafe somewhere in the world and you’ll tell me your story, your story of how you went from the mere idea of wanting to travel to actually making it a reality. And I look forward to hearing all about it.

It will happen, whenever the time is right. That’s the key. When the time is right.

This traveling stuff is tricky. It messes with your head. You want to travel badly and every single day you dream of all the places you’ll visit when you do get started, but that’s the problem…you don’t know when is the ideal time to take the plunge and begin.

Should you start traveling now? After all, travel is the only thing you think about.

Or does it make more sense to wait and travel later? You could use some extra savings and perhaps you should also get some more work experience first.

(If you’re deciding whether or not to attend or finish university before you travel, here’s a post you might want to read, with plenty of useful comments too: “Do You Need a University Degree to Travel Long-Term?“)

The point is…you want to make the right decision but it’s just not easy to figure out.

I know it’s difficult because I went through it myself and I also receive no shortage of emails from readers who are dealing with this very dilemma as well. We all go through it, everyone who wants to travel, especially those who want to travel long-term.

Back in 2000, after just ten days or so into my very first independent backpacking trip, I decided that I wanted to travel for as long as possible. However, I had very, very little money at the time, only enough to last a couple of months in Southeast Asia. As a result, I debated long and hard about what to do next. As far as I saw it, I had two options. I could return to the US, work for at least a year and save up as much money as I could before getting back out there on the road and attempting to achieve my goal. Or I could just continue my current trip and figure it all out as I went along.

In the end, I decided to not go home and to simply trust, as my guide, my increasing determination and excitement about the possibilities of travel, despite my rapidly dwindling funds. Turns out it worked.

But that’s just me.

I wouldn’t dare tell anyone else to just drop everything right this instant and pack your bag. There are too many unique aspects involved for each of us, which is why the debate of when to start our travels is one that we each need to have with ourselves. It’s the only way to reach the most suitable conclusion or to at least make some progress, or at the very least waste some time thinking about travel.

What I would dare tell you is that you should consider several specific factors that might help give you a better idea of your situation and ultimately, help you answer that question of when you should finally start your adventure.

  • Confidence – Are you confident in your ability to make anything happen? Will you be able to do whatever it takes to find a way to earn money if you need to? Are you the kind of person that won’t let anything stand in the way of your goals?
  • Ideal Savings – Would you be significantly more comfortable with the idea of travel if you had an extra $1000, $2000 or maybe $5000 in your bank account? What is your financial goal? Are you almost there? Is there a chance that you’ll always want more to the point where it stops you from ever leaving?
  • Work Opportunities – What kind of work, if necessary, would you be interested in while traveling? Is that work easy to obtain based on your skills, background, connections, etc. or will it take significant effort and creativity to make it happen? Are there opportunities to earn money in the places you’ll be at about the time your money might start to run out?
  • Travel Style – Do you plan to be a budget traveler? How much comfort will you want? What kind of travel style will suit you best and how much will it cost to maintain that style? Just because ultra-budget travel costs much less doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy staying in the cheapest hostel dorm rooms, eating very simply and taking the least expensive modes of transportation everywhere. And it’s perfectly ok if that’s not for you. It’s not for everyone. Figure out what is for you and you’ll have a better understanding of how much money you’ll need to make it happen.
  • Sociability – How social are you? Do you need more practice connecting with random people you come across? Or do you already have the ability to start yakking away to those you meet in cafes, in elevators, at the roulette table, on the bus? You don’t have to be a socialite but the more comfortable you are around new people, the easier it will be to interact with other travelers and locals that you encounter during your travels, to make new friends, to discover new opportunities.
  • An Endless Wait – Maybe there will never be a perfect time to break away and start traveling. Will something always come up to keep you at home? What if you wait another 2 years and you end up even more entrenched in your current job and lifestyle that it will be almost impossible to leave, even if you have saved more money? Is that a possibility and if so, how do you feel about that?
  • Torture – Can you wait 2 or 3 or 5 more years or are you so insanely ready to get out into the world that the thought of spending more time at home is starting to affect your life in a real negative way? If you can’t wait to leave, you need to figure things out more quickly before the frustration takes more of a toll. It just may be time to book a flight and jump into the unknown as soon as you can.

Again, it’s not easy. It’s downright hard to figure this out, I know. But you need to start somewhere because nobody else can tell you what to do. Whether you start traveling now, later or even never, it really is all up to you.

Just gather your thoughts, think about the above and make a plan, a plan that really feels good, or as good as possible, given your particular circumstances and goals. Then do everything in your power to stick to that plan no matter what.

I’ll be waiting to hear your story whenever the time is right. See you when you get here!

Have you faced this dilemma? How did you handle it? Are you still trying to figure out when to start traveling?

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  1. […] person behind the famous travel blog,, Earl himself said whether to travel now or later, depends on the person himself. There […]

  2. Ford Quarterman June 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Good post, Earl. Way to break it down in a simple, understandable format. Because quitting your job really is more simple than people think it is. We are all just scared of extreme change, when our society (USA) raises us to run the race in the same way.

    I quit my job over 2 1/2 years ago & haven’t regretted it since! I look forward to meeting you in a cafe one day & exchanging stories.


    Ford Quarterman

  3. Adam June 1, 2015 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I’d say the earlier the better …. any number of things could end it all (or at least your mobility) tomorrow. Even something like money can be ameliorated via jobs in various destinations or via digital freelancing!

  4. Luke Mitchell June 1, 2015 at 2:06 am - Reply

    Someone once told me, “there’s never a perfect time for anything, so if you spend your entire life waiting, that’s all you’ll be doing is waiting, and you’ll die waiting.” Though it might be slightly morbid to some, I took it to heart for everything from getting married to having kids, and even travelling. It can be very cheap to travel if you research and do it right, and there is no time like the present. Can’t take your money with you when you’re gone, and spending it making memories is far better than filling a house with a bunch of “stuff” that won’t mean nearly as much in the long run.

  5. Gemma Two Scots Abroad May 18, 2015 at 1:17 am - Reply

    It breaks my heart when I hear that elderly people always say their main regrets are not doing something for instance travel. I can’t comprehend the reasons people use to not do something, I’m a doer! Although the downside with that is I am impulsive too which doesn’t always turn out well!

  6. Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home May 13, 2015 at 4:18 am - Reply

    For me, traveling is the best way to relax. No matter if it’s beach holiday or exhausting safari in Africa. Every journey is charming and you can experience unforgettable moments.

  7. simon May 7, 2015 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Now, now, NOW! Don’t wait around; travel now – because who knows what could happen tomorrow? You might get hit by a car, or your relationship could fall a part, or your life might just get more complicated in general. I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t know for sure if there will ever be a better time to travel than right now.

  8. JB & Renee May 6, 2015 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    My wife and I would love to lead a traveling lifestyle. We’re both in our 40s with no kids (except 2 beautiful pugs) and I’m a location-independent designer so there’s really nothing stopping us…except us. Uncertainty about the future is always worrisome for me so I’m putting away as much money as I can now before making that leap. Time is ticking though so I can see it happening in the next 2 years. I find people like you to be inspiring because this type of lifestyle really does require a great amount of courage. Thanks for posting this. 🙂

    Btw, I’ve posted a couple of comments on your blog but they don’t appear for some reason. Not sure what I’m doing wrong…

  9. Sevenaura May 5, 2015 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    I read this post a few weeks ago and made a comment, at the time figuring I was going to stick it through until early retirement. I have been trapped in the world of practicality (and in front of a computer) for 18 years. Life was good except for a daily drudgery of a very practical office job, well-treated, good people, nice benefits but also tedious and monotonous.

    Recently I walked into a pole, my head hurting for days, but somehow stars started lining up. After never being able to see a way before (it probably wasn’t the right time), my path is now confidently clear. I am off to travel for a year starting this fall starting in Melbourne, then NZ, SE Asia, some CA ‘stans and European time with loved ones on the way back (the main plan is to keep things intuitive and loose)

    Having no children to put through college after these 18 years of 8-5 work, that freshman year of “tuition” will be spent sending me around the world. I have given my employer ample notice (my boss is jealous) and will leave everything in a stable place. No friend or family member who I’ve told has questioned the decision. Everyone knows how passionate I am about travel and how this makes perfect sense for me.

    It’s exciting to be on my way to being a “featherlight” backpacker in my early 40’s which seems like the perfect age, physically still young enough and mentally stable and much wiser than in youth when life was insecure and oriented around hedonism. I am going to fully appreciate every moment of this experience, having dreamed of it for so many years, not knowing if this dream could ever really come true. Nothing against a youthful gap year experience, but couldn’t think of better life timing.

    Thanks for this website for all of the travel resources and information : )

  10. Chloe May 4, 2015 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Really enjoyed this post. As someone who has really got the travel bug, I’m toying with the same dilemma of whether to save a bit more and work for a while, or just bite the bullet and go! After all – I’m not getting any younger… 🙂 Thanks for your wise words.

  11. David May 3, 2015 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    All you need is some savings and a hunger to see the world. Being able to earn digitally is a plus, but anyone can get real world gigs in their destinations if they have the desire to do so as well…

  12. k April 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to travel. Last year I finally got to, and spent an entire year in New Zealand. I had graduated high school over 4 years ago and didn’t have any post secondary education and had just been doing retail jobs since I graduated. It was tough after I got back to my normal life to not want to go travel whenever possible, and it still is honestly, but I’m starting to realize that having some sort of education and responsibility isn’t such a bad thing. I could travel as much as I could and live off money I make in short term jobs along the way, but I’m getting older and I don’t want to live off minimum wage jobs forever. I’m going to do a 2 year program at college, and then I’ll see where I go from there.

    • Kate April 25, 2015 at 5:56 am - Reply

      Hi K – I live in New Zealand, and have generally thought of it as an expensive place to tour. Can you tell me where you’re from, and how much you had to save to be able to travel throughout NZ for an entire year?

  13. Rachel April 21, 2015 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    I really enjoyed reading this post! I began travelling in my early twenties, in 2002. I originally waited for friends to come with me, but things always came up or they didn’t have enough money etc. I decided to leave on my own, because I felt ready to tackle the world, and I’d saved enough money to do so. It was the best decision I ever made! I am still travelling the world, just made it to 100 countries last year, a number that I never thought imaginable. Such an travel addict! I love it!

    My advice to everyone who is wondering when they should travel is to ‘go and travel when its the only thing that consumes your thoughts’.


  14. Great post and thought-provoking as usual Earl.
    Well, as you said, it’s a difficult one. And sure, if you’re passionate about travel, you face this every single day. I think I’m one of the lucky ones, my mother was a globetrotter so it was already in my blood LOL! However, as a girl, it’s so much more difficult to decide on what to do and when.

    I started my first bout after my A’Levels and before university. I also became a summer camp leader and then I did the real GAP year deal after university. And once I saw, my opportunity, I took it. I was given just 24 hours to say yes or no. I said yes, and what was supposed to be a 6 week project into Eastern Europe turned into 2 years. Yay!
    Quite frankly, I was able to go for it as I had no dependents, parents who supported me, and I was free and single, and completely able to mingle LOL!

    I now live as an expat, I’m married to a very supportive German and we have an only child. No problem, we just took him with us. As a matter of fact, the younger children are, the easier it is. I also had my child in international school which helped too, as most kids were in and out as their parents were diplomats or in the financial world, so taking off to travel wasn’t an issue. It’s a little more difficult now as our child is at the age of teenage angst and major school assignments, so we get creative with the school hols and travel then.

    Last year, with a full-time corporate job, a husband and a pre-teenage child, I was still able to travel to 10 countries. I’ve never looked back!

  15. O.J. April 20, 2015 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Love these kinds of posts you do! I very much agree on the Confidence and Sociability sections as they’re exactly the things I had to overcome to begin my traveling.
    I was engaged at a very young age and had plans to move to America and start up a new life. The marriage plans broke down after a few years and I was left with all this money that I worked hard to earn, for the initial move. I have always wanted to see the World since as early as I can remember but at this low point I had very shaky levels of confidence and sociability. I was determined though and set myself challenges to increase both characteristics to a level which could help me enjoy traveling solo. Took week long trips around Europe, found my comfort levels and tested whether I was ready, willing and able to pack up and go! And turns out I was.
    Now I’ve been to many places in the last few years and loving life! I’d like to thank you also, Earl, as this site was one of the factors that gave me motivation to get out there and travel. Seeing your life made me realise that it’s not just a dream to travel for as long as I wanted to. Keep up the great posts mate!

  16. K. April 19, 2015 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    I love how you leave questions at the end of your posts; it feels like an essay assignment but one that I’m actually excited to write! Im still in the phase of trying to figure out how to start and how to make it sustainable. Let me tell you: half the battle is getting out of Canada. The taxes on flights are ridiculous, and because we’re so far from everything: the initial price itself is also high. If you happen to be solo and female, too, The next worry is about safety vs. budget, as safety might mean forgoing budget (because you’re solo and fees are usually higher). I’ve lived abroad before and loved it…and something in me feels like it’s time to get moving again. With this post you’ve given me a lot to think about and I’m hoping to make the plunge after I can test out a few sustainability methods to see if they work for me. Thanks again!

  17. g y yeow April 19, 2015 at 3:11 am - Reply

    hi everyone, few years back, to be exact when I was 18, I decided to do one thing, start travelling. The only time is after my national service which I have to serve for two years. Many ppl say that but within few years they hv given up their dreams, not me. For 8 years, I told myself every night before I sleep. Now I am in thailand enjoying myself, very beautiful and kind people. In khon kaen now leaving for mae hong son, I dunno what to expect but I know surprises is awaiting me. Dont wait if you have the chance, it is jus not worth the time to wait when you can do it now. The only easy day was yesterday.

  18. Jason Feinberg April 17, 2015 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Earl, I love your blog posts! After reading your blogs you truly inspired me to give a shot at my own! thank you so much for being awesome!!!!

    happy trails,


  19. John and Laurel Rodgers April 16, 2015 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Seems like we are following you around Earl, but we just cant catch up with you. We are in Romania now and leaving for Istanbul in about a month. We are like you but we are in our 60’s and have been on the road since April of 1999. We know it is easy for a person in their 20s to say wow I want to travel and take off with a couple of grand in their pocket. For people our age making that decision is not as easy BUT, it can happen and it can be done. As your post said you just have to make that decision and get on the road if the road is where you really want to be.

    J and L

  20. Stephen April 16, 2015 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Words of wisdom as always, Earl.

    I came to this life from the opposite direction, with a poorly-considered jump into life in China (without really being culturally or financially prepared for the experience!) and from there a sort of natural progression towards long-term travel as a lifestyle. While it has worked out for me, I think potential new travelers would be well advised to ask themselves these questions before making the jump just to be sure they’re a bit more prepared!

  21. Cinderellas Travel Shoes April 15, 2015 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Difficult question! As you said the timing is never perfect, but to say NOW to travel is not that easy. After my studies I tried to save some money to travel more, but as I have moved in my career, it is really difficult to leave everything behind. I really do love my job; I have 23 vacation days, and 15 public holidays, not bad! 🙂 In addition, after my travels I somehow feel that I am glad to be back home, refreshing memories, going through the photos, sharing my experience with others etc. It seems that NOW is not the right moment for me. My intuition says that I am doing the right thing, but who knows if I do not regret it later?!

  22. Casey April 15, 2015 at 6:14 am - Reply

    Great post, Earl!

    These are all things that I had to consider before I left to move to Peru. I had gotten to the point that if I didn’t move abroad soon, I was going to lose it. I set myself a deadline to leave and spent year obsessing over how to travel and saving money. I left January 2013 and haven’t looked back! It’s been amazing!

    I think people really just need to be careful that they don’t put off traveling because of fear and uncertainty. Because they’ll end up waiting forever. I think that setting a reasonable deadline for when they will leave (and even buy the ticket early) will give them the motivation to make travel a reality, but still allows them time to prepare.

    Keep up the good work!

  23. De'Jav April 15, 2015 at 6:08 am - Reply

    Yes, I have been faced with this dilemma. It was the fact that I wanted to save however started affecting my work performance and outside life because behind everything travel is what I wanted. Now I’ve left my job to start my world travels in June. Good post lots of things to think about before making the plunge.

  24. Ingrid @WorkTravelBalance April 15, 2015 at 3:08 am - Reply

    This is a great blog! Thanks Earl.

    I’m with the “don’t wait” crowd… but with a little different perspective. Even if you’re working full time, you can still use your vacation, use the Christmas holidays, or even weekends… to travel. Some of the best experiences I’ve had are short weekend trips.

  25. Gerard ~ GQ trippin April 15, 2015 at 1:50 am - Reply

    One word – torture. We don’t want to wait a few years for our next trip. Even though we finished our year-long RTW awhile ago. We still make sure we prioritize to save up for a decent trip every year. Gives us something to look forward to too. 🙂

  26. Jenny April 15, 2015 at 12:18 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    This is such a useful and hopeful post! I really hope I bump into you one of these days and get to tell you my story. The good thing is that with all you awesome travel bloggers out there it’s becoming much easier to believe it can actually happen. It took me years between deciding I wanted to travel
    (on a short trip to Israel in 2010) to actually leaving (after finally finishing my PhD in 2013). It was excruciating and there wasn’t one day I didn’t think I’d made a mistake in waiting. But the most important thing is I left (with my boyfriend) and we are still travelling now and planning to move to thailand to figure out a way to join the digital nomad lifestyle.
    Thanks for sharing your stories and advice! It makes it so much easier to just go now!

  27. Sakai Naismith April 14, 2015 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    This question is paramount to a successful adventure. There are many people who decide to leave now and the answer is not right for them, and many who decide to delay when a leap of faith is best. I face the consequences of wrong and right decisions in my work as a tour guide… There are those who do not save enough before their journey and are unable properly enjoy their adventures because they are counting pennies. There are those who never make it.

    I have met people who do not follow cultural guidelines with tipping because they are unable to afford it. This action essentially deprives someone else of their livelihood… and so a vicious cycle begins. I have met travellers who dislike a country because it is more expensive than they had budgeted for… or more expensive than their neighbouring country.

    Travel can be a lifestyle for some people that they do not enjoy, just like a desk job. The thought of returning home is less appealing than being on the road. Some people travel to find themselves – the irony is these discoveries are normally made when they take time to sit still. I often hear people compete over their travel, to feel superior to others they come across. The more I travel the more I learn to be humble. The biggest revelations often come from someone who has not had the opportunity to leave their backyard.

    In my opinion, those who understand their motivation for travelling are best able to plan and follow through with a fulfilling journey. Investigate the motivations and purposes for travelling and you avoid going around the world like a dog chasing its tail. Dont be ashamed to seek the help of a local expert or to travel with a group. Trailblazers in the most remote corners of the world will always look to find an expert to secure their passage. Edmund Hillary had a sherpa.

  28. Alyson April 14, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    No, we’ve been travelling full time for 2 years now, this is my second RTW, the first, 15 years ago, was only 1 year. I just wanted to say that age doesn’t matter, it’s good, no, great, at any age. As a single, couple or family, it still works. I’m 48, my kids are 8 and 10, we’re having a ball. In Goa right now 🙂

  29. Emily April 14, 2015 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    After getting the thought in our head to do a RTW trip and realizing we didn’t have to be millionaires we jumped at doing it now. There’s no time like the present and we didn’t want to have any regrets for not doing it in case we couldn’t as we got older. I don’t regret taking a year off and sacrificing a mortgage, etc etc, but I think the situation is different for everyone.

  30. Britt April 14, 2015 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    For me- I waited.

    I decided that I’m going to go on a RTW trip back at the end of 2013. I set a goal and started working like crazy to make it happy. I’ve just booked my flight for November the 23rd of this year. I waited for a couple of reasons- I’m still at uni which means I couldn’t work fulltime- at the moment I work 30 hours a week over 7 days which studying full time and I don’t think I could do much more.

    I’m a budget traveller but I also wanted to have a nice amount of money saved before I headed off- especially because I’m estimating about 9 months in europe that isn’t cheap.
    I also know from my stubborn personality that waiting wasn’t going to be a problem- of course I wasn’t going to put it off together!

    The second reason was far more practical. My university has a university just outside of Florence. It won’t put me back as much if I could study there for 2 months during my trip and it financially would be better because you get an outrageous amount of funding from the uni to go. I couldn’t fit it into my degree until semester 1 2016 so that is why I’m leaving in November!

    I completely agree that it all depends on the individual person and their circumstances!

    • John and Laurel Rodgers April 16, 2015 at 6:26 am - Reply

      Hey Britt, Europe is probably not as expensive as you think. We are in our 60s and have a little Social Security income from the U.S. but we manage to live in nice apartments from one of the sources online. Eat in a lot of the time but we live on the road with money left over. In the states we would struggle to make ends meet. We just left the market in Bucharest buying food for two for a week for about $35 U.S.

  31. NZ Muse April 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Gut feel. I had growing wanderlust eating away at me, we didn’t have any big financial commitments, I had a few years of work experience and was getting a bit bored at work and my partner hated his job … it all started to come together.

  32. Michael Galinsky April 14, 2015 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    There is no “later” only “now,” otherwise you wake up at 46 years of age like I am, and wished you had planned to do it sooner. I am taking a trip somewhere THIS YEAR! Probably Thailand or somewhere in Southeast Asia. Take my advice, don’t wait!

  33. Deena April 14, 2015 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    Thanks for your terrific blog which has been an inspiration to us as well. We are an older couple (60’s) who have become nomadic these past years. Our tally of expenses in this last year of travel has been 1/2 of what we would usually spend living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from where we hail. We decided to join the world of nomads, slow traveling from country to country as long as our visas will permit us to stay. It was an easy decision for us to travel indefinitely as we are one mind. Experiencing what’s out there in the world was an alluring alternative to the house and property that owned us. When the front door fell off its hinges, we were ready to sell, give away everything and begin a life on the road. We’ve found endless ways of traveling inexpensively without ever limiting ourselves.

  34. Thomas Mark Zuniga April 14, 2015 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    This post hit me hard. I just completed a 9-month road trip across North America. Ever since settling down a month ago, I’ve been beyond restless for the road again. I feel like you were speaking to me when you said that part about saving up for another year and then hitting the road again. I don’t know if I’ll actually do that, but the notion of saving up and/or being self-sufficient on the road is an appealing one. Regardless, I’m at least glad my 9-month journey happened. There’s just still so much out there…

    BTW I found your blog via one of your readers while I was on the road in Pennsylvania. Big fan!

  35. Jason B April 14, 2015 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I actually faced a situation like this before in the past. I told myself that I wanted to drive across the US coast to coast as a gift to myself for graduating from college. I graduated but the trip never happened. I put it off for 5 years. In 2013 I saved money and told myself that its now or never to do this trip. I ended up quitting my dead end job that summer and set out for 2 weeks. Honestly, that trip was the best 2 weeks of my life. I learned so much about myself during that time. I haven’t been the same since. I’m in the process of paying off debt so that I can do a longer trip in Europe within a year or 2.

  36. Stacy April 14, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Thanks to you and a couple of other travel bloggers, I am a former Southern California cube dweller that has begun traveling. Once I realized I was serious about making it work out, It took about 6+ months of preparation. Applying for the right credit/debit cards, renewing my passport, getting my finances in order, saving money, selling my condo, car, and belongings, doing research, and then quitting my job. I’m also not young. I don’t consider myself old either but being 50 years old is a bit more unusual to do this I think (but I do look and act younger…so that helps!) I look forward to broadening my horizons and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone as a female solo traveler. I’ve started off in Costa Rica and plan to learn Spanish and slowly move around this little country for a bit before moving onto South America and Southeast Asia. One thing I know about myself, I’m not interested in staying in one place for a few days and then moving on as many travelers do. I prefer to stay in one spot and live like a local for a bit then move on to the next destination. I’m budget conscious but not too frugal. I have a certain amount of money to last me and when it’s all gone, I’ll be back in the states to work again…..unless I have something else to keep me going. I’m trying to tap into that creativity, so we’ll see what happens. But really, I owe my newfound confidence to you, because I’m not sure I would have been able to make this happen otherwise. So thank you Earl. xo

  37. Joel @ April 14, 2015 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Great article, Earl!

    This is THE question we have been debating for some time now. You can prepare and plan until you’re blue in the face but it comes down to whether or not you can stand another day, month, or year in your current position.

    The time to travel is now! After all- you never know what tomorrow brings.

  38. Sevenaura April 14, 2015 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    I stumbled onto your blog after returning from a short trip across the Atlantic. I always have my culture shock coming back to the US, reverse culture shock, but eventually it subsides. I am locked into a full-time situation and am likely going to stick it through till retirement as it’s not too far off. I have never lived abroad but have woven in as many trips as possible into the full-time work routine, fortunately more generous with leave than many US jobs.

    I envy European and some UK Commonwealth travelers I’ve met who are “only” traveling for six months, who don’t have to worry about losing health benefits upon leaving a job, and who sometimes have more flexible job situations. Most Americans have little comprehension of how much more freedom others have, and how inexpensive travel can be (as it is expensive here if not camping or couchsurfing, and lacking in decent or even basic public transportation in many places).

    That said, these fortunate travelers are a small sliver of the world’s population. Most people are not trotting around the world, and even if they could, the atmosphere couldn’t sustain all the air pollution (flying is high on the carbon footprint scale, however cool it is to fly Ryanair or Easyjet to a new city in Europe for less than the cost of dinner).

    I have always fit travel into my more-constricted life because I don’t think this travel bubble is going to last forever. When I was a kid in the 70’s it was very expensive to fly to Europe and it’s getting that way again. Gone are the $300-500 tickets of a decade or so ago. Thank goodness I went then.

    If you aren’t tied into a job and all of its “benefits”, I’d say save up money short-term and travel sooner rather than later. Go somewhere where you can budget travel and have the experience. You have plenty of time to get locked in, and once you are, you will be gray before you have the chance again (and may never have the chance).

  39. the Miss April 14, 2015 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    When my girlfriend who was younger than I died of breast cancer it was a wake up call that life isn’t fair, there are no guarantees and sometimes you just have to trust and jump. Jump we did. We are now 7 months in from selling everything, buying a boat and kissing our loved ones goodbye. I have to be honest it was tough to do.
    Was it the right decisions? Some days are shitty but hey such is life. The highs still out weigh all the crap-a-rolla! Not one day have I wished my old life back. Money is always an issue but the value of living is priceless.
    As an ordinary individual doing life like the rest of us, can I encourage any who may doubt “Jump Jump Jump”, life is too short not to travel, even if just a little to see whats on the other side.
    Cheers the Miss

  40. Kyle April 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    The money issue is always a big one for me. I’m one of those “I never have enough money in the bank” and I always feel that if I save up just a little bit more money then I’ll feel comfortable making the leap. But then I get that money and I feel I need more.

    I’m going on my second trip this summer and I can’t wait! I finished 1.5 years at college after doing an epic 5 month backpacking trip in 2013. To anybody who is in the young, mid or late twenties I would say this: go for it!!! Especially if you’re single with nothing holding you down, you have nothing to lose!

    Also someone mentioned retirement, earl has stated in the past that he has always saved for retirement.

  41. Carol Ann April 14, 2015 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    It doesn’t seem to matter at what age people are at they have similar concerns about whether they should travel now or later. Speaking from the perspective of someone older I say go now. Yes, you need to have a contingency plan for the future but somehow things seem to work out and I know too many people who decided to wait and never got the chance. It comes down to what your priorities are – travel or live comfortably. There is always a tradeoff and there is no right answer. We each must make our own decision as to what is right for us. My only suggestion is if this is a dream of yours – don’t let it fade and don’t let others determine what you should or shouldn’t do.

  42. Charles Haslett April 14, 2015 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Good morning from Los Angeles.
    I have been filled with constant everyday anxiety about whether I should pack my bag and hit the road or get a job and go to school for a History degree. Even if I decided to Travel, I have a dilemma, zero money.
    I’m currently 27 years old and did my fair share of wandering The States from the ages of 17 to 23. I suppose I had more courage at that time to drop everything and go where my heart took me. Yet as time trailed on, responsibilities approached, though thoughts about Traveling remain. It’s truly difficult to keep a job due to wanting to escape so badly. I become depressed to the point that I quit and tell myself the nomad life is for me. My family, friends and girlfriend all seem to scratch their heads wondering what I’m doing with my Life. I ask myself the same question often.
    What do you suggest I do in my situation?

  43. The Guy Who Flies April 14, 2015 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Great points and interesting to read of your forced decision whilst early on the road. To never look back 🙂

    An endless wait is just what I was thinking before I came to your point in the article. People can always find reasons to put things off and then risk it being too late. If you almost can do it then you should do it. There may never be that “perfect” moment.

  44. Brian April 14, 2015 at 11:27 am - Reply

    One more question I’d add to your list is “Retirement;” as in how do you plan to finance your lifestyle when you’re no longer willing or able to work?

    It’s the one huge question that is entirely overlooked on many travel blogs that seem to focus almost exclusively on financing current expenses. Meanwhile, putting aside enough money to ever stop working is a huge undertaking. That’s made even harder if you interrupt your career trajectory to travel or spend a considerable amount of your prime saving years living hand-to-mouth while on the road.

    A priority for us was to make sure we had our retirement savings well in hand before setting off to travel full-time. Until we did, we had to content ourselves with making whatever trips we could during our allotted vacation time.

  45. Paula April 14, 2015 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Hi earl, I can’t wait to tell you my story. Am heading off on my travels in July – my first time travelling alone… I hope to be able to tell you my scary and exciting story some day and that’s its outcome is positive by then 🙂

  46. Amanda Burger April 14, 2015 at 11:13 am - Reply

    I love this! So true! Everyone always has so many excuses not to travel and I always tell them to just do it. Life is short. 🙂

  47. Rebecca April 14, 2015 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Is the picture on top of the post from the city of Trogir in Croatia?
    Also, wonderful post!

    • Wandering Earl April 14, 2015 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Hey Rebecca – It’s actually from Dubrovnik.

  48. Renuka April 14, 2015 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Relevant post. Many are there who would like to travel, but are caught in different circumstances. In my case, I believe in traveling no matter what. But yes, the points that you have laid out are valid, too. One should figure out whether he/she would like to be a budget traveler or a luxurious traveler, is he/she willing to work while travel, etc.

  49. Ron Wesner April 14, 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    Back home after 3 months in Australia

    best exciting trvael plans for me will be to Iran with an Australian group next
    October. Been a long time dream. And going to check out the upper floor of
    an A380.

    Always love reading your site. After Iran, early next year- I’ll visit the rest of my so far unvisited SAmerican countries.


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