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To My Co-Millennials: It’s Okay to Travel But Think About Your Future

merlion park

Recently, I read an article about what we so-call “Millennials” – the way they care about their life, their future, their lifestyle, and especially their passion for traveling. There’s a big debate about these traveling millennials. One economist said that if this kind of trend continues, millennials will face the most uncertain economic future.

But wait, who are these millennials? Millennials are people who were born or came of age during the dawn of the 21st century or the new millennium. They are the first blood of the digital world. They belong to the group of digital natives where technology and modern lifestyle has always been a part of their everyday lives. And today, millennials are changing the face of travel. How?

 Nowadays, we millennials choose to spend our money to buy experiences rather than fancy things. We make hostels more appealing, fun and comfortable over luxury hotels. We advocate solo traveling and our tagline? “Traveling solo doesn’t mean being alone.” We know and learn how to make friends on the road, and we highly consider jobs that will give us more ease in moving and traveling.

boracay

Boracay Island, Philippines

When I started volunteering and working in a hostel in Bangkok, I met hundreds of guests. About 90% of them were solo travelers. As part of my interesting job, I made sure that our guests were comfortable during their stay, and as much as possible, I interacted with them. As expected, after learning each other’s names, the next questions were always, “Where are you from?” “Since when and how did you start traveling?” Believe me, most of the answers were, “I quit my job last X and I’ve been traveling for X months now.”

Alila Seminyak

Alila Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

It seems that we all quit our jobs to travel, and I’m one of them.  I never regret the time that I gave up my corporate career and decided to travel the world. Yes, some people called me impulsive – they assumed that I wasn’t thinking about my future. Others have said that I’m part of the few “privileged”  who can just submit their resignation letter and fly. To respond to their assumptions, I’m not.

 Whatever privileges I experienced during my travels, I worked hard for them. I didn’t wave a magic wand to build my website, to grow my followers, and to establish my name online. It all comes from hard work, some sleepless nights re-designing my site, writing articles, and working with clients to support my travel. I’m not rich, I don’t have big savings, and I still support my family. But how can I make it possible? It’s simple. I don’t just have a goal… I have a plan to make my dream become reality.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Gladly, I made it. I said that one day I would travel long-term, and even my ex-partner knew that. I told him, “The time will come when I will my quit my job. I want to travel for 2 to 6 months, or even for a year. I don’t know when it will start, but I’m sure it will happen.”

 From the day I left the corporate world, that was the start of living my life with uncertainty. It was great to have my freedom. Freedom to go where I wanted, to sleep and wake up at whatever time my body decided. Freedom to explore and go beyond the limit, and to go beyond my own personal boundaries.

 Quitting my job to travel for nearly a year sounded fancy to other people, but in reality, it wasn’t easy. I came very close to ending with nothing – my bank account dropped to almost a zero balance. Yes, I might have been in a luxury resort in Bali, walking the streets of Kuala Lumpur, partying in Bangkok, enjoying the cold weather of Hanoi, taking in the spectacular view of Singapore, and relaxing on a beach in The Philippines, but it didn’t come without effort.

 

Chatuchak

Chatuchak, Bangkok, Thailand

Truth be told, I can not always relax. I need to write even if my creativity is not working. I need to bargain with low-paying clients even if, deep inside, I know that I’m worth more than their offer. I need to work more than 8 hours a day in front of my laptop to handle other social media accounts. I need to sell online stuff and carry more than 20kgs of items from Bangkok to Manila just to earn extra money. Why do I keep doing all these things? Simply because I promised my parents to continuously support them. If not, believe me, I would probably not go back to the corporate world.

 After my recent 2-month stay in Thailand and Singapore, I came to the point of asking myself, “How much longer are you willing to do all of these things?” Don’t get me wrong. I love what I’m doing, but the big question behind it was, “How long can you live your life without savings?” The blog is earning. I sometimes have a part-time online job. I can do part-time work whenever I’m on the road, like managing a hostel in Bangkok. And all of these are giving me enough money to support my family and my daily needs. But when is “enough” not enough? I think that point comes when I see my bank account not growing.

Tam Coc

Tam Coc, Vietnam

What else is missing with being a freelancer? I’m still trying to figure out what I should have done better to earn more than what I’m getting. I asked the universe to give me a sign. I had 2 options. I could go back to Thailand, study the language and culture and stay for 8 months. Obviously, this wouldn’t give me financial stability, but I would still have the freedom that I’m enjoying. Or go back to the corporate world. Honestly, the idea makes me sick, but the pay and experience will surely make my bank account grow again to secure my future.

Destiny is playing me once again. The day that I signed my job offer here in Manila is the same day that I received an invite back to Thailand. It was like Destiny was asking me what I would choose this time. I decided to stay here in the Philippines and work. It was not a hard decision, probably the job offer made it easier. The benefits that I’m getting are surely hard to beat, which is why I decided to stay.

 My initial goal after quitting my job, to visit all the 81 provinces in the Philippines and the 10 ASEAN countries, is not yet completed. However, I believe that my job won’t be an obstruction, and instead, I look at it as a way to financially support these goals.

singapore

Marina Bay Sands

We, millennials, are not getting any younger. Go and do the things that will make you happy. Enjoy your life to the fullest. Be crazy and wild. Stop caring about what other people will say negatively about you, and start making your dreams come true. Travel as much as you want and as far as you can. Believe me, it will change your views about the world. It will make you a better version of yourself. 

 But if the time comes that you need to care about securing your future life, make sure you go for something that you will love doing, or is at least worth your time.  Never give up your passion. Don’t stop traveling, but don’t forget that you also need to be a responsible employee and person. There’s nothing wrong with traveling, regardless of how often you want to do it, but let us not disappoint our future selves by having nothing 10 to 50 years from now.

24 comments

  • CAI!!!! Ang galing galing tlg ng friend ko!!!! Emseproudofyou 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your perspective as a millennial traveler. Being able to travel full-time is not an easy job and many people wrongly, or naively, think it just happens easily. You brought up a solid time – yes, we should enjoy life and live it to the fullest, but at the same time, let’s be realistic and start thinking about the future!

    • Thank you Kat, I appreciate your comment. Yup! let’s enjoy our life to the fullest and yet secure our future.

  • I think it all comes down to finding a balance. Being able to travel and be financially stable is doable, but it obviously takes a lot of work. Each person just has to figure out what works best for them.

  • I really loved this article. So much interesting the reflection… I´m older, 37 and i quit my job and i´m trying to live only with my travel blog. Let´s see…

  • Wonderful read, this one! Kudos. This is inspiring, honest and very very well written!
    “Travel as much as you want and as far as you can. Believe me, it will change your views about the world. It will make you a better version of yourself. ”

    There isn’t any investment better than travel. It opens new vistas and its the best teacher. Absolutely agree with you on the points mentioned. A freelancer’s life isn’t easy and its not that rosy as it appears.

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate it Yeah. I agree it might look fancy and easy but doing the freelancing job is not easy.

  • There is nothing wrong with traveling full time or with traveling while you keep a 9 to 5 job. The most important thing is to do what makes you happy.

  • Cai! It was an interesting read. We are not Millenials 🙂 but we had our share of fun and crisis. The bottom line , I think is , Human beings are a tough lot and would take up challenges willingly and overcome it too.

  • This post was an exceptional read, Cai! I really enjoyed it and it provided food for thought!

  • Excellent points and your views resonate with me as well. It’s not something travellers talk about, but I think money management and planning for future needs to be a part of any business plan. I don’t have any answers yet, but now I have some more food for thought…

  • I’m 55 years old and I’ve traveled throughout my life, but I’ve never taken off for than two weeks at a time. I often wonder if those who are traveling solo at a young age for long periods of time are missing out on the blessings I’ve enjoyed because I stayed put — a spouse and marriage and family and opportunities to serve in my community. I’d never trade what I have for anything else! Having a lot of money isn’t important, but having meaningful relationships sure is!

    • If we choose happiness we will never have regrets in our life. I’m glad you’re happy with your choice 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your story, these can be hard decisions to make for sure!

  • what a great article! As you said quitting your job and traveling has become a trend and goals for many millennials; however, you never really hear about the struggles behind this dream life. It is harder than it seems, doable, but you really need to be passionate, love what you do and as you said, have a plan.

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