I’ve written before about why we should all travel more sooner rather than later.
I’m currently in Japan, an expensive country which I put off visiting for years. But Japan is one of the most amazing places I’ve visited to date!
I recently started thinking about why I had put off so many expensive experiences for so long, and why it makes no sense.
When it comes to deciding where to go, cheapee travel destinations – places like Eastern Europe, central America, or south East Asia are often more tempting than visiting Scandinavia, Switzerland, or Japan for example. Even if you’d much rather swim with sea lions and penguins in the Galapagos Islands than go inter-railing in Romania for example.
This makes sense in lots of ways. There’s a great backpacking scene in cheaper destinations and your money goes further, meaning that you can afford to travel for longer.
The downside, is that by putting off these desired experiences when you’re younger, you may be decreasing the chances of ever being able to visit at a later date.
Do you want to see the Northern Lights in Iceland? Experience the world’s biggest carnival in Brazil? Or, hike the Himalayas in Bhutan? You can do it, you just need to start saving a bit earlier my friend!
A lot of people save these expensive experiences for “special occasions”, like their honeymoon, or when they are “retired”. Times when they can justify taking 2-3 weeks off and spending a bit more.
The problem with putting off these experiences until then is:
1. These Expensive Destinations and Experiences Will Only Get More Expensive
With the exception of maybe Antarctica (which is cheaper to visit now then it was five years ago – and also a lot more commercialised…), generally, ticket prices rarely become cheaper, and air fares and hotel prices don’t decrease.
In the absence of an event that somehow improves your currency’s exchange rate, (like the crash in Argentina, or Iceland a few years ago), the cost of these expensive experiences rarely goes down.
If anything, these experiences just become more expensive. For example, staying at the Ice Hotel in Sweden has always been expensive, but it was cheaper last year, and even more so, a few years before that.
2. You Have More Money Now Than You Think You Do
Sure you might have some debt now, and may be earning more in a few years, but most of us will have a lot more responsibilities by then.
Liabilities like a huge mortgage, children’s education, aging family members to look after, pressing retirement, and maybe our own businesses.
Most people in those positions have less disposable income than they did when they were younger.
3. Flying Long Haul is Cheaper Now than it Will be in a Few Years Time
Many people put off flying long haul because of the expensive flights. A flight from London to Australia with Emirates is a lot more expensive than a £25 return budget flight to Spain.
People also feel like they can only fly long haul if they can take a long chunk of time off work. They feel like they need extra time to get over the let lag and flying would take up 2 days of their leave. Which is fair enough, but if that’s the issue, you need to make more time.
If it’s money that’s the issue, then realise that the longer you wait, the price of long haul flights, including their taxes and fuel tend to go up in price.
If you’re thinking of putting off an expensive experience until you’ve had children, bear in mind that you’ll have to fork out an additional ticket for them – which will be even more expensive, and a lot more stressful (see below).
4. A Lot of Experiences are Better Without Children
I don’t have children myself so this might be presumptuous of me. However, I can’t imagine relaxing in the same way at a 5 star resort with my own children (as well as lots of others running around screaming and bombing off the poolside); or perusing the art galleries of Paris or wine tasting in South Africa with a screaming toddler.
I’m also not convinced that children would enjoy a lot of the sightseeing in a lot of expensive countries – temples, gardens, museums, eating out in expensive restaurants – aren’t children happier on a beach or in a pool?
Sure you can travel the world with children, and I’m sure that in some way, it’s good for the kids too. However, I’m not sure that the children I’ve seen travelling with their parents in Peru, and Japan have really been enjoying themselves. The kids we met in Peru had some weird rash and fever from playing with diseased lamas. I’ve seen other kids go stir crazy trying to keep out of the heavy rain in hostels, or run a mock in temples disturbing and upsetting all the local people. The teenagers in Japan, well, they just looked bored.
I’ve seen plenty of parents travel with kids, but it looks hard. They’re often laden down with double the luggage, as well as a stroller, baby carrier, and a screaming child or grumpy kids.
Also – do you really want to fly long haul with young children? Most kids don’t enjoy it, and neither will you. Gone will be the days when you can sit back and relax with your gin and tonic to watch the latest films – you’ll be too busy trying to stop your kids from hassling the poor passengers sat behind you with re-runs of Peppa Pig on your iPad. That’s no way to start a holiday amigo!
Wouldn’t it just be easier to try and visit a lot of these places before you have kids?
I completely appreciate that you can’t visit everywhere you would like to visit without children before that time comes, but I still believe that it’s a useful goal to aim for.
5. A Lot of Experiences are Better When You’re Not Too Old
Do you really want to be hiking the mountains of Switzerland when you’re 75 with knee issues? Or sitting on a pure white beach in the Maldives wrinkled up with lots of saggy skin next to a skinny blonde a third of your age? Sure you might be in great shape when you get to that age, (and I know a few people in their 60s who look amazing to be fair!), but I’m pretty sure you’d wish you’d visited when you were younger if you could have done.
Even I experienced this when I went backpacking in South America recently. I had a great time sure, but I wish I would have done it when I was younger.
I’m also a big believer of making the most of our loved ones now. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. I’ve been fortunate share lots of great experiences with my partner. Sure it’s cost a lot, but I’m glad I’ve got to share those times with him now, and not waited until later, when one of us may not be around, or might have a health issue.
When your younger, fitter, healthier. You’re more willing to rough it than a lot of older people I know. You don’t mind sleeping in dorm rooms surrounded by rowdy 21 year olds; you don’t mind sharing bathrooms; you can live without the expensive meals most days. All of this can help save you a lot of money too. I had always assumed that Switzerland and Japan would be prohibitively expensive. Don’t get me wrong, these places cost a lot to travel around, but they are far cheaper than I ever thought that they were before I visited.
“What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?“
– Garland Greene, a character in Con Air written by Scott Rosenberg