Samantha Ladwig
September 20, 2015 7:20 am

In the past few months it seems as though the travel bug has hit just about everyone around me. My Facebook and Instagram feed are suddenly filling up with packing preparations and pictures abroad. As I scroll and like each new post, I can’t help but feel a tinge of envy. The luxury of not having to balance finances with student loan payments is one that I often fantasize about. It would open a whole new door of freedom, specifically with commitment and scheduling.

Of course that’s a broad assumption that travel directly correlates with a lack of student loans. There’s the option of deferment, and of living super cheaply while you trek across Europe. People figure out ways.  But my personality is one where I would not be able to enjoy travel while having the question of job security looms over my head.

As I ebb and flow through my day at work, through my twenties, through post grad life, and through my thoughts of where I want to go and whether or not I’m pursing what I really want to do, I have to actively remind myself that we’re all in different stages. Here are some things that help keep me in check when I begin to question my own path in life.

Remember that comparing yourself to others doesn’t make sense

Many of have said it before because it’s true. I’m not saving money to travel extensively for a reason. Two major ones being I don’t have the funds or the time off needed to take a backpacking trip. More importantly, I’m not saving my money for international travel because that’s not a major goal of mine. My money goes to movies, baking ingredients, and writing groups. We all save our money for our own passions, applause to those travelers for maneuvering their lives to make their passions a reality.

Even though it feels like it, you’re not alone

There are a lot of people who can’t travel, or aren’t interested in traveling abroad. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s important to note that you’re not alone in staying put or having limitations on where you can go. I was recently talking with a friend about noticing a lot people traveling abroad this coming season. If we’re being honest, I was ranting a bit and feeling bitter about my student loans, when he looked at me with surprised eyes and said, “I didn’t know anyone who did that after college.” I was shocked! Where has this sudden travel trend come from? Maybe the internet, social media, or simply a shift in goals. Whatever the case, be kind to yourself with reminders that you’re not alone, even if you’re Facebook feedsays otherwise.

Remember that travel is nice, but you can have a full life where you are

Something that’s helped me accept and appreciate my reality during the different stages of my life is that as long as I’m following my passions (writing, baking, hiking, reading, watching movies) I don’t need to travel extensively to feel like I’m living a full life. It goes back to not comparing. Everyone has their own passions and pursuits. When I think about traveling, I sometimes think about how there wouldn’t be a good opportunity to write because of the sites, exhaustion, and social aspect of hostels (I’m not someone who is able to write just anywhere). That thought puts it into perspective for me simply because I want to be able to wake up and write each day. I know that after an hour’s worth of writing, and sometimes only a half hour’s worth, my day feels positive and encouraging.

Appreciate what you have going for you

I feel fortunate to have found a job in my very small field of work right out of grad school (in the arts/non-profit community). A job that fit my criteria of being out of state, which would force me to move, that has good benefits, and a flexible schedule. I may not be able to travel abroad, but I’m able to pay my student loans, rent, and groceries without the stress of “what if’s.” This economy has proven difficult for post-grad students to find work. I know myself, and I know that I would not be able to enjoy a break or travel if I had no idea what I would be doing when I returned home. In a way, my move is my travel. A new city and state to explore with it’s own new culture.

Make the most of your own surroundings

Traveling abroad may be out of the question, but traveling about my surroundings is most definitely do-able. I’m a complete supporter of the local tourist. The best question to ask is, “if I was visiting for the first time where would I go?” After cycling through the standard museums and parks, I’ve also asked researched questions like, “Top coffee shops in Los Angeles,” and ‘Best street art in Los Angeles.” Moving from the overarching tourist questions to the more localized ones keeps my intrigue up and helps me discover and rediscover my surroundings. Not to mention the fact that San Diego is only a short drive away, the Pacific Coast Highway, San Francisco, Joshua Tree, Hearst Castle, etc. Trains, friend road trips, camping, there are all sorts of different ways to travel besides abroad.

Remember that even if it’s not happening now, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Lastly, I find it helpful to remind myself that I’m only 25. I may not enjoy hostels ten years from now, but I have plenty of time to travel. Backpacking in your 20s isn’t the only time or way to see the sites. I hope to be a visiting instructor someday, which would force me to not only travel abroad but also move abroad. Employers sometimes offer sabbaticals depending on how long you’ve worked at their company. If you’re a writer, keep writing until that is your full time job because you can go anywhere and write. If you really want to travel and it’s simply not do-able now, set a goal for the future and look into alternative paths for traveling abroad.

After conversations with friends and some self-reflection, it’s apparent that our twenties (and maybe forever) are filled with doubts about our personal plans, leaving us wide open for comparisons. We’re trying to navigate adulthood, find some sort of stabilization within our surroundings and ourselves. There’s no time for “what if’s” and comparison’s if it has nothing to do with who you are and what you want to do. Forget FOMO. Let’s enjoy what we have going for us.

[Image via FOX]

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