If you’re sick of your mom questioning your life goals or your aunt setting you up with “a friend of a friend from church,” it’s time to pack your bags and get the hell out of dodge. Older generations may think your late twenties are for white picket fences and popping out babies, but let’s be real. Nowadays, those prime years aren’t for settling down. They’re for making memories, finding yourself, and above all, living it up. From the dreamers to the doers, the adventurous to the apprehensive, everyone in their late twenties should go out and travel the world.
1. You have absolute freedom (for potentially the last time in your life).
These are your years, my friend. The golden years without children, mortgages, and responsibilities. You can spontaneously pick up and go at any moment, so don’t wait for the right time or the perfect flight deal. Grab a plane ticket and go while you still can.
2. You’ll gain a new, and necessary, perspective.
Cliché, cliché, I know. But it’s so true. While traveling, you’re more apt to try new things, experience new cultures, and talk with locals, and these unusual situations give you a new perspective on life. TV depictions can only teach you so much. You have to get out there and experience this world to truly understand it.
3. Your travel memories will get you through tough times.
On a rainy, lonesome day, you won’t think back to the fabulous time you had folding laundry. You’ll hop back in time to the Sahara camel ride, the fleeting French romance, or the cheetah chase in Africa. Those stories will keep you alive, and ensure you never lose the wild, adventurous spirit inside you.
4. Your legs still work.
Don’t just travel while you still can. Walk, hike, snorkel, and explore while your arthritis-free joints still allow it.
5. You can still stand cheap hostels, because college wasn’t all that long ago.
This may be the last time you can stay in a hostel and feel fine with it. Once kids come, it’s hotels with kids-eat-free specials and swimming pools, and after that? Well, by that age you’ll probably be over snoring strangers and vomit droplets in the bathroom.
6. The mishaps of travel will make you more resourceful.
Nothing’s worse than losing your passport, wallet, phone, or rental car keys in a foreign country. It’s terrifying. But here’s the thing: You’ll always, always get through it. You’ll put on your big girl pants, figure it out, and come out significantly stronger and smarter on the other side.
7. Traveling with your significant other tests the strength of your relationship.
Don’t say “I do” until you’ve traveled overseas with your significant other. From the stress of missed flights to the silence of long road trips, nothing teaches you more about the good, the bad, and the ugly of a partner than traveling the world as a team.
8. If you make it out alive, “team travel” will leave you with some out-of-this-world, romantic stories.
Hiking through a hidden waterfall. Getting stuck on a 48-hour train in Africa. Seeing the Northern Lights from a remote Icelandic forest. These are the stories you’ll tell your children in the future, so go make those crazy memories today.
9. If you have a life-changing experience, there’s still time to change your life.
Traveling does more than open your mind to new things. It also opens your eyes to who you are. You may go overseas as a lawyer, and realize after three months of backpacking and soul searching that you really want to teach English or start a charity. Having a life-changing experience in your twenties means you still have decades and decades to turn those dreams into reality.
10. You’ll meet fellow twenty-something travelers and build lifelong friendships.
Once you have children, you’re less likely to talk to strangers (practice what you preach, right?). Sure, you’ll be friendly, but you won’t go out on the town and become besties with an Australian backpacker or soul sisters with a Scandinavian tour guide. Your twenties aren’t just for making memories. They’re also for making new friends from all walks of life.
11. Your adventures aren’t limited by health conditions.
When heart conditions, medications and, well, age start to take over, you’ll be restricted from certain activities, even if you physically feel like you can do it. Take water-sports, for example. Most legitimate companies won’t let anyone with heart, lung, or back problems get on a jet ski, so hurry up and enjoy those experiences now.
12. If you don’t travel now, you’ll regret it down the road.
When your time comes, you won’t think back to the great deal you got on detergent, or the on-again-off-again Piper and Vause relationship. You’ll step into your twenty-something hiking boots, imagining the swelling pride from your first mountain summit. You’ll glide into those strappy sandals, watching the Italian sun set as you and your partner embrace endlessly on the Amalfi Coast.
It’s the mind-blowing, mesmerizing memories that matter in the end, and there’s no time like your twenties to go out and write your story.