The fact that they call it Wanderlust, a German word that describes a strong urge to explore the world, adds to the pretentiousness of it all.
But admittedly, it’s a sexy idea: quitting your 9-5 cubicle job, raising your middle finger to corporate life goodbye, and booking the next plane to Bangladesh to start anew and live the life you’ve always wanted — perusing through third-world marketplaces with just your backpack and an iPhone. It’s a fantasy I and many of my fellow 20-somethings are guilty of.
But as far as I’m concerned, it would have to stay that way — a fantasy.
The reason? Quitting your job to travel the world is quite possibly the worst decision a millennial could ever make.
Because we’re poor. If you’re an average millennial (which means your family doesn’t own two NFL teams, like Kimmy Schmidt over here), you probably earn less than $35,000 and have less than $1,000 dollars in the bank. Say you’re able to save a hundred bucks — hell, let’s make that a hundred fifty, if we’re being ambitious — a month six months prior to your trip with the sole goal of saving before your world tour, you’ll reach an amount of more or less $2,000 — which sounds an okay amount if you’re going backpacking and embracing “the real world.”
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Except that it’s not. If you’re planning to start your Wanderlust journey in Cambodia, for example, an airfare ticket could easily cost you $400. Adding a very tight budget of another $500, which can cover a modest place to stay, street food, and transport if you actually want to go places, for a whole month easily eats off $900 from your Wanderlust budget. And that’s just one place.
Then you’re just good for another country and you’re done. So much for travelling the world.
But I can just go back home and earn money again for a few months, right? And go travel again. Repeat the process over and over until I become the embodiment of Wanderlust and the envy of Instagram users the world over. Besides, this IG post preaches the real deal.
But the truth is, it’s the other way around. You can always earn memories, but you can’t always earn money — especially if you are a millennial. Forty percent of all the unemployed in the United States are millennials. When you decide to go back to the workforce and grab one of ’em jobs so you can save up for your next trip to wherever your dart hit the world map on your bedroom wall, you will be competing with 75 million other millennials around the world, roughly 4 million of whom are in the United States, who are actively looking for a job.
That’s not counting 25 percent of all employed millennials in the United States who are also searching for a new job this year. And because your last work experience is eating grilled frog in Phnom Penh, you can bet your butt off that the person who actually stayed to earn work experience will get the job.
If you think freelancing while travelling is the next best solution to your Wanderlust woes, consider the fact that although internet connection in third world countries have improved, 70 percent of millennials from these nations still aren’t able to access the net. That’s not promising data for someone who actually intends to make money online.
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And it’s not like you can just jump online, post on Fiverr, and wait for the hundreds of clients that will surely flock to your online services. If you have not done freelancing work before, it will be an uphill battle. You would have to learn, hone, and most importantly, try to sell your Photoshop, graphic design, or writing skills and compete with thousands of professional online workers, most of whom are probably more skilled and offer more attractive services because they’ve been engaged in freelance work for years
There’s nothing wrong with having travel as an end-goal, but doing it in your 20s is not the wisest decision you could make. This decade is not meant for your travel plans. Work hard, grow your skills, save some, and when you hit 30s, you’d actually have more leeway to take off a few months — probable even a year — to actually travel the world. And with the experiences — work experience that is — that you have accumulated over the years, you’d be more confident in the fact that someone out there would be happy to have you on board should you decide to go back to being an employee again.
An even greater sin would be feeling envious of others who are actually Wanderlusting their butts off in their 20s. Fact: some people are born rich. Comparing your own capabilities with others’ would only do damage to your mental welfare and unnecessarily stress you out. Relax. Your time will come.
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