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Why You Should Travel When You’re Young and Broke

This is the time.

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Don’t wait for the money to come before you travel.

Get out there while you’re young.

Because when you’re young you can scrape by on next to nothing. You’re at the time of your life where you can bounce back with ease.

You can sleep in noisy hostel dorm rooms full of rowdy drunk people without it ruining your day.

You can party all night and still make that 6:45am train.

Your body can efficiently run on cheap food and lousy hostel breakfast.

Downing half a bottle cheap of wine doesn’t make you completely miserable the next day.

You can, in a pinch, handle sleeping on a train station bench.

Then you discover something — you don’t really need much money to have great time. You learn what’s important. You discover that you don’t need to own a ton of stuff. You don’t need stay a nice hotel. You don’t need to eat expensive meals or drink high-priced drinks. You realize that strolling through the streets of an unfamiliar city at night and enjoying a cheap picnic in a park are best things in the world. In fact, you realize that having money actually makes all those things more difficult.

Because after a certain level money gets in the way. It changes the way you see the world. It starts to distance you from the places you came to visit.

After a recent two-week trip to Cape Town, South Africa I got a first hand look at how money changes the travel experience. First, we were given free accommodation in a five-star hotel (provided by my wife’s work). Second, were treated to a few really nice free meals and trips out to South Africa’s amazing wine region. Third, everything was cheap thanks to the exchange rate, so we could afford great meals and alcohol for half as much as it would cost in the US or Europe.

Don’t get me wrong… it was awesome. We loved living in luxury and eating like kings for two weeks. But the entire travel experience felt much different that my normal budget travel style. Our lifestyle felt much more removed. I never felt like I made a personal connection to the city like I did when I traveled cheaply around Europe.

Quite frankly, I’m glad I experienced Europe when I was young and broke. If I had waited until I was older and wealthier then I know for certain that my experience wouldn’t have been as impactful. Part of the magic would have been lost.

And as I’m becoming a little older (I first backpacked through Europe over 10 years ago) I find myself traveling differently than I did when I started. Don’t get me wrong, I still travel on a budget but I just can’t travel like the 22-year-old me could. Those days are gone. I don’t think it’s a negative thing. It’s natural and I still love every minute of it. But that “golden window” of traveling in your twenties has passed.

So do whatever you can to save a little money and head out there. Because there is no better time to travel.

We’ve compiled some tips to help you budget, save, and travel cheaply:

James Feess
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No Funny Business

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