Should I travel before settling into a career?

Written by Megan Cunningham

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

As many of you may have heard or read about, it has become popular among millennials to travel before settling into a career. It's something many of us plan and save for, but there is a fear that this will hurt our future careers and leave us in debt.

Is that really the case? It can actually be advantageous to travel before you have a career, and travelling doesn't have to negatively affect your opportunities at having a job you love.

Travelling takes planning

Next summer I'm planning on going backpacking for a few months, and I didn't make this decision on a whim. I've spent countless hours planning, budgeting and setting myself up for an incredible experience. I made a personal choice to gain a sense of culture halfway across the world while I have the opportunity, time and, for lack of a better term, minimal responsibility.

As an upcoming graduate I don't currently have any dependents, a mortgage, or any commitments tying me down to stay in one place. If travelling before settling into a career isn't the best time to do it, then I don't know when is. This is not to say that this decision hasn't come with sacrifices. I can't freely spend my money or go out every night to eat dinner if I intend to make this path a reality.

Here's a quick breakdown of the costs I budgeted for the trip:

  • The cost of accommodations (i.e. price of hostels per night, in each location)
  • Average daily food costs
  • Flight costs at the time of travel
  • How much local transportation will cost (such as taxis, buses and boats)
  • Vaccination costs (depending on where you go, there are different health risks to consider)
  • Equipment needed (such as a good backpack, quick dry towels and a first aid kit)
  • Travel insurance (including cancellation for flights, and medical coverage such as Blue Cross®)

It's also best to consider what excursions you want to do while travelling (such as a guided hike or hot-air ballooning), and research the average seasonal costs of each. It's always better to over-budget than to under-budget.

As a cautionary note — remember to consider the safety of your own financials. Friends of mine have found it useful to have about $50 CAD on them for emergencies, and to use money belts to keep their cash safe.

Weighing the benefits of travelling

Remember that it isn't just about setting aside money — you have to weigh your own opportunity cost for travelling. I had to consider the fact that travelling next summer for a few months meant that I likely wouldn't land a full-time summer job, which equals less money in my bank account for the next year and potential work experience lost. After my trip, I'll have a very low balance in my bank account, but I know that I can make it work for a few weeks until I'm employed part-time again. If you set yourself up to have money left for when you get back, then think about what you can gain from travelling instead of what you'll be losing.

Experience gained

Travelling provides invaluable life experience that can benefit you in applicable ways in the workforce.

By immersing yourself in a new culture while travelling, you're exposed to new situations every minute, every hour and every day. You'll become accustomed to mentally and physically approaching the unknown as your day unfolds. You'll build on your communication skills, and gain new perspectives.

Don't be afraid to see the world — you'll thank yourself for it in your future career.

The Blue Cross name is contained in a variety of trade-marks owned by the Canadian Association of Blue Cross Plans.

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