Love this diatribe by James from The Savvy Backpacker, a great blog dedicated to solving all your European backpacking dilemmas. All I can say is, I feel your pain James!
By James, The Savvy Backpacker
Most young people get the silly urge to travel.
It usually kicks in sometime during their twenties.
Resist. Don’t do it.
Don’t travel — especially to a foreign country.
It will ruin your life.
Because travel has a way of messing with you and you’re too impressionable in your twenties. Wait until your thirties or forties or fifties or later because most people are set in their ways by then.
But in your twenties? No way. You’re just asking for misery and heartache.
Have you ever twirled around in circles and then suddenly started twirling the other direction — it makes you feel sick and dizzy, right? That’s exactly how your entire world will feel once you travel.
But I fear that many of you are too stubborn to heed my warnings.
This is a mistake. Trust me. I’ve done it and I suffer every day.
So what’s the big deal you ask? Travel is supposed to expand your horizons, right? It’s supposed to make you think differently. For eons wiser men than myself have made proclamations about how it changes the way one sees the world.
YES! That’s exactly what it does — and that’s the problem because young people are too susceptible to the effects of travel. Luckily, by the time you’ve exited your twenties you’ve likely acquired a career, loans, family, debt and numerous other obligations — all these things act as a suit of armor that protects you from travel’s nasty side effects.
So what is the big deal?
First of all, the person who you were before you traveled no longer exists. It’s scary. You won’t realize it at first but it slowly starts creeping up on you as you travel. You start to see how other cultures live. Their views on work and leisure and quality of life and food and public transportation and art and architecture and tradition — it all starts to permeate into your brain and it takes over.
You’ll start asking yourself questions:
“Do I want to work 60+ hour weeks and have barely any vacation time?”
“Is there more to life than work?”
“How come young people in other countries aren’t crippled with student loan debt?”
“What is most important in my life?”
“Why didn’t I study a foreign language?”
“Maybe other countries do some things much better than we do them back home.”
“How have people in other countries figure out how to enjoy life?”
It doesn’t truly hit you until you’re back home because that’s when you discover “home” — the place that has always represented stability and comfort — doesn’t exist anymore either. Suddenly home feels different. It’s disorientating and it feels like you’re wearing someone else’s glasses. It will make you feel queazy.
Speaking of home, it’s weird going from living out of a backpack to having a house full of stuff you’ve amassed. You realize having a house/apartment full of stuff doesn’t make you happy — in fact, all your stuff starts to feel a little overwhelming.
But it gets worse.
Your friends and family and peers — they won’t understand. In fact, they don’t really care that you’ve just gone through this transformative journey. You’ll tell them all about what you ate, saw, and experienced, but I’m telling you that their eyes will quickly gloss over. This will happen just about every time. If you’re lucky your parents will listen to your tales for a few minutes before wanting to stab finely sharpened #2 pencils into their ears.
It’s lonely knowing that no one else will ever, or can ever, relate to your experiences. But you’ll continue the futile process of trying to tell your story. Be careful because your friends will quickly become sick of your stories.
But that’s not all.
As you settle back into your regular life you’ll find that you’re not satisfied. Trying to focus on school or work becomes nearly impossible because the lure of travel consistently calls your name. You’ll find yourself trying to get your fix with marathon sessions watching the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain, Rick Steves, and House Hunters International. You’ll seek out restaurants that serve food from the countries you visited — but it will never be as good as it was in France, Italy, or wherever you traveled. And God help you if you acquire a taste for Belgian beer because your bank account will suffer.
You’ll find yourself randomly scouring the web for good deals on airfare or searching for cool places to stay on Airbnb — even though you have no time or money to travel.
Spending time on facebook and instagram will become almost unbearable because you’ll see your friends posting pictures of their travels. It will bring back great memories but the depression of being stuck at home will quickly takeover.
BUT THE WORST THING ABOUT TRAVELING IN YOUR TWENTIES IS THAT YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO STOP.
You’ll spend your entire life traveling. You won’t be able to shake the travel bug. Whenever the possibility to visit another country arises you’ll take it. You’ll spend less time at the bar or choose a home cooked meal over a restaurant so you can add a little more to your travel fund. You’ll find other ways to skimp and scrounge because you have no choice but to see as much as the world as possible.
It’s a crazy ride. Good luck :-)