Q: I am in the middle of my twenties, I have a great job where I have moved up the ladder pretty quickly in the last couple of years. I have a very good salary for my age and I have a great apartment in NYC and a great group of friends.
But more than anything I want to travel the world. I would love to take a trip around the world for six months/a year….BUT I am scared that I am going to ruin my career and I will never get a job when I return; I am scared going to miss an opportunity to meet my husband, I am scared of what people are going to think of me; I am scared to live my good life in NYC. Even though I am scared, and I might not have a career when I get back or a plan…will I regret not taking a trip like this? What advice would a forty-something have for me??
Most women I’ve interviewed if they have any universal regret it is ot traveling more in their 20s. The old logic used to be work hard, retire and then travel the world. But then you never kow what will happen in the mean time. From the bad to the simple fact that you likely won’t have the same boundless energy to explore and you;re locked into a certain lifestyle by then. You might not be so willing to hop the train and hang at the hostel and for some people, less openness to meeting new people later in life. Of course you can’t help but learn about new cultures and new people no matter what age you go but how much more valuable it is when you are young.
As for the job, if you are good what you do now…there’s no reason to think you won’t come back and kick ass in another job. Plus, more employers see international travel as a benefit to their company. But most of all..you will learn so much about yourself . Not only may you meet someone abroad (not promising any Eat Pray Love scenarios here) although I do I have one friend who ended up marrying a guy who she met when she was traveling who called her up when he was visiting her city and another who met her husband abroad at a wedding she almost didn’t go to because it was too expensive. But more importantly, just think about how much more interesting conversations you will have when you come back with tales from the exotic to the humorous I guarantee you. But enough from me. Some amazing answers from 40-somethings, some who traveled and some who regret having not:
From a woman who has parlayed travel into a key part of her job and never goes on a business trip without enjoying some part of the culture for herself:
Adventure, adventure, adventure. Of course. That doesn’t mean not thinking about the future or not fulfilling dreams. You never know where life is going to lead – there are no guarantees with anything you choose. You may as well experience it and live to the best of your ability. And you never know, the adventure path may be what brings you love and a great career.– 40-something, wife, mother, working woman and traveler
From a woman who was able to travel in her twenties for work and learned a few things on how to do it on the cheap when you had to.
“Before you have a child, before you get married…have a bucket list and do as much of it as you can. Travel,travel, travel. Stay on peoples couches. Get to know other cultures. You can go back later and see it differently. But see how these people live now. Go see what China is like. And keep a journal” — 40-something, working mom, wife, musician, Cleveland, OH
This from a woman who did enjoy an exciting life and career in the city when she was 20-something but sees that what she really missed on was travel.
Dear 20 something,
While I know it’s not easy to leave such a fabulous life I’m sure that you climbed up the ranks in your job because you are smart and ambitious! Opportunities are always available in NYC for the smart, ambitious and worldly ;-).
That being said, maybe you can sublet your apt while you are away so that you don’t have to give it up entirely and therefore can rest easier knowing you have a place to come back to. In terms of worrying about other people will think of you…I can’ t imagine anyone viewing this in a negative life.
I’m sure it will be a life changing experience and wish that I had the means in my 20’s to do so. I certainly would not be afraid of missing out on the future husband as who is to say you won’t meet him on your adventures. Best of luck to you and send 40:20 Vision a post card if you go! — 40-something, working woman, wife, New Jersey
My only advice is Go!!! Go!!!! Go!!! And, don’t look back!!!
You will get a job when you get home. You can always flip burgers to make rent until you get a ‘real job’ if you had to!!! And, who’s to say you won’t find your future husband in your travels. Waiting for life to happen to you (i.e. stay in NYC to hope you meet your husband) It is the worst thing you can do. I have many people I can use as examples that will tell you that just doesn’t happen (they are still waiting!!) it never does. You have to do what you want to do and then life will find you.
And, of course, Your friends will be there when you get back, and, if you really want to, sublease your apartment to make sure you have it when you come home if it’s that important to you. Like I said…go, go, go and don’t look back! – 40-something, new mom, wife and taking a break from career, California
And lastly from a woman who did take time off to travel and found it helped her career…
My advice: Book your ’round your world’ ticket now. If you stay in nyc – you are going to miss out on far more opportunities…. to meet people, make friends, experience new cultures, see sights people only dream of, etc..
How quickly does time go. Ask yourself, ‘What have I really done in the last six months in New York?’ Sure you had fun with friends, tried some new restaurants, bars, clubs. But if you asked that question of yourself after traveling, it would be: seeing the Sydney Opera House, trying Cambodian cuisine, laying on beaches in Thailand, doing yoga in India. Pretty easy to see what wins out.
With regards to career – you won’t fall behind. You can spin your travel on your resume. In fact, after my 6 months of travel I found it easier to get interviews as so many people wanted to hear about my adventure. It something they all had always wanted to do, but did not….Co don’t be one of those people. Hope that helps. –40-something, NYC
So yes to travel. I got a lot more answers all similar. This week I’ll also provide some of their perspective on not being afraid of missing out on something.