Why It’s Good to Travel When You’re Young

Though my job pays me little to no money, it does bring me some great experiences, like wining and dining all over New York City with my friends, famous chefs, mixologists, or sommeliers, and journalists from a heap of different outlets. Essentially I went from playing around the world to playing around New York City, which is – in its own right – just as cool.

This past week (one night after my Patron bar crawl to celebrate the release of Patron’s newest tequila and a night before I went to see 50 Shades! The Musical Parody off-Broadway), I went to an intimate dinner with award-winning progressive chef Charlie Palmer and a handful of other journalists. Palmer owns the Michelin-starred Aureole, where we started the night with some entrees, before we moved on to his new steakhouse, Charlie Palmer Steak, where I had four – four! – beautiful cuts of steak, including Kobe beef, which left me eternally elated from how amazing it was. It was like a beautiful note from an R and B song: smooth and soft. That Kobe beef melted in my mouth like butter. (Kobe beef and black cod are officially the greatest foods on earth, by the way.)

I found myself talking to a Times columnist and cookbook author about my travels, who kept telling me how great it was that I did all that I did. We talked a bit about the work culture of New York (insane) versus other places I’ve lived around the world. We talked a bit about how travel isn’t quite as encouraged in the States as it is abroad, and why that mindset was something that always left me feeling quite conflicted about the path I was taking.

But at 27 (with 28 fast approaching), I look back on the past five years since finishing university and feel proud of what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and what I’ve overcome to get this far. Travel is the greatest gift I could have ever given myself.

The longer I am home, the more I realize that it has not only taught me how to be grateful for all the experiences I had while on the road, but it  has also taught me how to be grateful for and appreciate all these moments I have while I am home, like celebrating milestones with my friends and my family or simply just being in their company.



You can travel at any age, but I think that traveling while you’re young is the best thing you can do for yourself. Sure, you step out of your comfort zone, you grow, you challenge yourself, and you continue to learn about yourself each step of the way. Maybe that helps you professionally – because, let’s face it, at 20 years old, when we are in university and forced to declare a major, do we as students really truly know what we want to do with our lives? Maybe a small, select few know what they want to do (or have a general idea), but for the most part, students graduate at 22 years old and think, ‘What the hell am I going to do with my life?’.

Or maybe travel helps you personally – it helps you come out of your shell, develop confidence, overcome a traumatic life event.

And all of that is great, amazing, and incredible, but it’s not the only reason to travel when you’re young.

One of my favorite travel stories to tell is the one about when my bus broke down in the middle-of-nowhere, Cambodia, and my friends and I along with about 10 strangers spent the night sleeping on the side of the road.


I was 23 at the time, and hell – I couldn’t imagine doing that in my 40s, 50s, or 60s (or older!). I give credit to the older backpackers – and there are some out there – that do this because it’s nitty, and it’s gritty, and it’s not easy.

Sleeping in hostels and sharing a room with at least eight other people takes patience (especially after you were a sharing a bed with two people for four months). Taking chicken buses or overcrowded slow boats in the dead heat isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Eating street food isn’t something that agrees with everyone’s stomachs. Walking around town with a 10 to 15 kilogram backpack on your back takes some strength, as does climbing mountains and summiting peaks around the world. Though I exercise constantly and am in really good shape, who knows what my body will be like when I am older and whether I will be able to do the hikes I’ve done – like Mount Rinjani or Mount Kinabalu or the Himalayas – throughout all my years of travel.


Traveling is hard work (India especially was a killer at times). It’s not for everyone (something I plan to write about in the near future), and that’s okay. Some people travel differently, and not everyone is a backpacker, but I’ve loved the experiences and wild adventures that being a backpacker on a shoestring budget has brought me. I love that I was able to move to and live in other countries around the world, because I was young, spirited, single, and responsible for no one but myself. Making that leap only gets more difficult as you get older, as life catches up with you, and as you begin to settle down.

I had the freedom to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, and it’s a freedom that I won’t have forever.


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