I love to travel. I hate to blatantly say that I love money, but if I’m honest with myself, I do love money — and I love to save, and build my account. I love the doors that it opens, the security it brings, and the small pleasures it allows me. I am not rich. As much as I’d love to be, I don’t make a six figure salary, and I have a four-year-old (who has already asked for a house, car, and an iPhone for selfies and calling me at work), and another sass-ball on the way. I realize the things that I love, including my family, matter more to me than being money-rich (not that I’ll turn a Starbucks gift card down — I am human, after all).
Even though I’m very content, and am proud of myself for holding down a job that provides security, I often ask myself this question: Are you living the dream you set for yourself in your teens? And the answer is no, I’m not. I was supposed to be in Germany. I was supposed to be traveling, writing, working, speaking German, and celebrating Oktoberfest in Germany, instead of at local Oktoberfest-themed festivals. I always do a lot of soul-searching and reminiscing about my dreams in the fall. I hop on Instagram and look at travel pictures; I go to the “I Love Germany” page I follow on Facebook; I die a little while looking through Pinterest inspo. I’m a slave to pictures and quotes. And recently, I came across this quote: “Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.”
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spill a little of my coffee as I slammed it down, and muttered some pretty unmotherly words. SERIOUSLY? Let’s play a little sentence dissection with this Pinterest “wisdom.”
“Travel while you’re young and able”? NO. Travel should not be that constrained. Travel is creating adventure, and spontaneity, and shouldn’t be limited to experiences you can only have in your 20s with a surplus of frequent flier miles and no job. When you finally have your own money to travel, you will likely have other responsibilities. Eliminate the Pinterest image of travel you have in your head, and make travel and adventure happen how and when you can. You don’t need to be young, or travel far, to have new experiences. I have had amazing experiences exploring the world around me, for very little money, as well as traveling abroad. And that’s coming from someone who has a job, a house, and a family — all of which were also dreams of mine.
To continue the quote dissection, let’s look at the next phrase. “Don’t worry about the money, just make it work.” Yeah, so, I live in the real world. Not only is it irresponsible to encourage people to “not worry about the money,” as TFD has pointed out before, but you do not need to throw your financial or career goals out the window for the sake of traveling. What you need to do instead is set money aside, and budget for travel. Do you need some money, especially if your dreams involve lying on a Tahitian beach, taking a land and sea Alaskan excursion, or eating, praying, and loving through half of Europe and India? Yes. But I think there’s an option to make one of these trips work, if you are planning ahead for a dream vacation, and saving diligently. I think we can compromise, and live financially stable lives, and go to our 9-to-5 jobs and still prioritize a passion for travel without throwing caution to the wind. Sometimes it seems like millennials get a bad reputation because people assume they buy into this ridiculous quote, and approach life thinking that responsibility is second to pleasure. But “living in the moment” and “being present” isn’t incompatible with your daily life.
Finally, the last part of the quote: “Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.” I can agree with that wholeheartedly, but only if we take the quote out of its original context. When you keep this clause attached to the first part of the quote, all it does is rationalize a myopic point of view. However, as a standalone sentence, I see some value. All of my experiences – as a woman, daughter, traveler, friend, cupcake eater, lover, corporate professional, wife, Christian, and mother – have shaped every little nook and cranny of me. I think every experience I’ve had is valuable, and I wouldn’t trade any of them. Why should I? Instead, I enjoy who I was, and who I have become, and try to capitalize on my experiences so I can learn, potentially make more money, and further my career.
My overarching point is you can work and travel — you can even work to travel, if you want. But don’t let the world tell you that you are too young, or too old, to travel because all that does is encourage you to do something irrational now, or feel guilty for not prioritizing buying a plane ticket, over your career. Don’t let the world trick you into believing that responsibility and adventure cannot coexist — life is not about one or the other. Adventure should not stop when you stop “being young.” Don’t fall victim to a meme, or a Pinterest quote, and allow it to make you believe that choosing your career takes you out of the running for travel and adventure. It doesn’t.
Tania is a compensation and HR professional, mother, wife, and cupcake lover. She’s getting the hang of Twitter, and loves traveling and writing.
Image via Pexels