This morning I’m sharing a tip from one of my 40-something readers. As she notes, many 40-something women wish they had traveled more! But it’s tough with the pressure to get a job…and either literally or emotionally pay off the debt of 4 years of college. She is an American who now lives in France and recommends the service she speaks of below as a way to fund budget-friendly travel.
“It seems so many 40-Somethings wish they had traveled more when they were younger. I highly recommend it. It can only make you more desirable to a potential employer and a more well-rounded person. For 20-Somethings looking to travel the world on a budget, HelpX (http://www.helpx.net) is great. People can find hosts all over the world that will give them accommodation and meals in exchange for a few hours work a day (gardening/renovation). We meet so many that are traveling for 6 months to a year on a limited budget. High School grads, College grads, Graduate students, all taking a break before starting “real life”. Lots of our helpers are also “Couchsurfers“. They find hosts all over the world to give them a place to stay for a shorter period of time, in exchange, they also will host others. Both services give travelers the opportunity to see a real slice of local life, not just the postcard view” –40-something
And just as a reminder — some 40-something hindsight from those who did travel and what they got out of it.
“Right after I graduated college I went to Paris. It was supposed to be for 3 months but I stayed for almost 2 years. I had wanted to go ever since I was six years old. Oh I loved it! I didn’t speak French at all when I went. I learned it there. I went to school for French language and then I got it up to a level where I could go to university there. I definitely don’t have any regrets about deciding to live abroad and travel. I only moved back New York when I had some visa problems. Then I went to work in production…and yes I had to work 24/7 to pay my bills. But I had this desire to go explore, to experience new cultures and different things. I’m so happy I did it.” – 40-something, art director, Los Angeles
“I would absolutely say to travel somewhere abroad either in school or after school if you can. It will open up your eyes to the world. Especially growing up like I did in the Midwest. It is very insulated. If a 20 year old from the Midwest told me she was afraid to travel or leave her hometown even for a period of time, I would just want to smack her to say get out. Go see the world and see life because it’s not just what you can see with your eyes out your window. Just seeing out your window leads to tunnel vision.” — 40-something, Chicago
“Travel, travel travel. Stay on people’s couches. Get to know other cultures. See how these people live. Go see what Japan is like. And keep a journal. Don’t stay too conservative. Now is the time you can take a few risks . But be calm. For some, there is a panic that the train is leaving the station but it’s not. Sometimes you make choices because you are afraid of missing out on whatever it is. Which means you aren’t really choosing. You are just choosing by default because you don’t want to miss it. Give it a little more thought.” — 40-something, classical musician, teacher, Cleveland
“After college we were so stressed out to find the right job. My advice would be to not feel the pressure of having to find the perfect job after college and go to work right away. That is a good time to stop, go travel the world, do something, find yourself and then jump into the real world. There is so much pressure in senior year. The interviewing 24/7. It was the total competition of who’s got job? What salary? What a headache. Go travel the world.
You felt like you were done. You couldn’t ask anyone to fund travel. You had to go to work. Are there ways to do it without money? Yes. Just get out a backpack and take your $100 bucks and go. Then you are going into the world with open eyes. There is a world outside the bubble I live in. I can see the world and I’m going to go get it. I’m going to learn.” — 40-something, advertising, Chicago
And lastly from a woman who took a job in her twenties in the music industry that required her to travel all the time to different places. I asked her, if she missed seeing her friends or making friends and if she felt as if she had missed out on anything when she came back in her late twenties. The answer was no (and it also stands as a testament to the value of good friends):
“I worked in the music business so I was always on tour. I think it’s what really opened my eyes to how the rest of the world lives. It gave me a perspective that I probably would not have had if I had stayed in Los Angeles or lived in one city. Both of my two best friends were there for me throughout the time I toured. My best friend was my roommate and although I “sub-let” my room out. I always had my place to go back to when I had small breaks. My other best friend who lives in both LA and NY is celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary in January. I was at their wedding and they met because of me. As soon as I got off the road entirely I met my third best friend. All three continue to be the “core group”.
I’m blessed with these three incredible and fabulous women as friends. The history we share is the most important quality in our friendships. To be fair, we all work to do things together (trips!) and stay in touch virtually every day or at least 3-4x a week. This is no small feat considering we all are very active. We do not judge our choices (i.e. men, jobs, travel, parents, siblings, kids) and this is probably one of the most crucial points in sustaining long-standing friendships. Although I have had other girlfriends (a partner on writing my book, friends from touring, friends from TV production, etc) they all came into my life at very predictable junctions and they left or “fell off” in the same way. I do not hold anything against them, it’s just natural for work-related paths sometimes. I think the “result of my actions” (whether touring, getting married, becoming a mother) only increased the permanence of these friendships. And, all of us believe wholeheartedly we could not live without our girlfriends!”