I’ve been living out of a backpack for three years. Sleeping on couches, having adventures, being unfortunately poor, and man-handling jet lag.
The following is Part II of a three part series on hitting the road! Read Part I here.
For many, the following story is pounded into the collective consciousness as the guide to a successful life:
Go to school, so you can find a job.
Get a job, so you can earn money.
Spend money, because it makes you happy.
Nowhere in that list is there a mention of “live your dream” and for those that aspire for something a little more risque than the 9 to 5 there doesn’t seem to be many options… In fact, as I get older, I have watched as many friends exchange their aspirations for financial responsibility. They’re drowning in debt instead of a sea of adventure. For many of the people I am closest to the above story has played out like this:
Go to university and become saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and a degree in something that may or not be an actually enjoyable career. Get a job (if you can find one in this economy) and immediately realize how the working world isn’t particularly interested in accommodating your dreams. Sick of the 9 to 5 life either (a) go back to school and rack up more debt or (b) start buying things– cars, a house, etc. for entertainment purposes. Both options ensure that you’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
I met a young woman the other day who is paying $50,000 a year to attend photography school. I thought aloud, “for $50,000 we could send you around the world three times, for over a year, with the best camera to live the life of a National Geographic shooter. Why don’t you just do that?” She responded, “I wouldn’t have a degree, I couldn’t get a job.” I cried a bit on the inside, because my academic history is sordid to say the least, and I’m doing just fine. After four years of school this young woman is going to be $200,000 in debt, all for a piece of paper.
Essentially this is the basic reason why many young people who want to travel can’t travel: most are up to their eyeballs in debt because society tells them that having an education guarantees them a job, money, and ultimately happiness. Please don’t sacrifice your dream of travelling for a piece of paper. Don’t be an indentured servent to your creditors.
If this is your story and you’re stuck with an inordinate amount of debt the only solution for you is, you guessed it, to travel. In 1998 a law was passed that made it almost impossible for American students to discharge their loans by a bankruptcy. I’m not sure what the rules are for other countries, but essentially, those loans are with you for the rest of your life… Unless you move to a different country. You can wait several decades to pay off your debts to the man or simply expatriate and travel.
In my opinion if your choice is to go to college, don’t waste your hard earned money and time going to an expensive one. Give yourself enough room to ensure you have the flexibility to do as you please when you graduate.
Next up Part III: Let Go