Now is the Best Time to Travel

walking down the beachLife is stressful. Working, bills, the economy, errands, love, family, commuting- lots of stress. It all adds to the mountain and causes us much anxiety. When people feel stress, it’s important we relieve it and one of the best ways to do that is to travel. Travel can refresh us. It is like a time out from life- just like from grade school but this time it is fun. It slows us down, makes us stop and smell the roses, and creates a little change from the norm in our life.

But isn’t that irresponsible to just leave? Not at all. Is it irresponsible to let yourself be so overworked and overstressed? Life is for living and enjoying not sitting in an office. Travel makes a great break for when you are feeling low. Whether you take a weekend, a week, a month, or a year, just getting out and doing something different can recharge the batteries. The excitement, the fun, the new places give you more energy and bring you back into focus.

Think about it. You are away from all the stress in your life. You are in a new environment. There is a lot to see. A lot to do. People to meet and places to go. You can do what you want and that is the most stress free experience out there. By focusing on your mental health, you can return to work and your responsibilities with new focus and commitment because you have cleared your head.

Most people think travel is expensive but only because they see all the advertisements on TV for fancy vacations and believe all travel is like that. But only a small fraction of travel is like that. Traveling is actually very cheap. With the economy doing poorly, that is even more important today than ever before (though low cost has always been good). As an added bonus, travel companies are now slashing prices and airlines are cutting fares to try to get people to travel more so the cost of traveling is getting even cheaper.

sitting in economy classWhich means it is a great time to take a life time out. Most people would say this is the wrong time to be spending but if you think about it, it is actually the best time. When the economy is good, you’ll be in demand and will be able to make the most money you can earn. If you are off spending your days in Fiji (which I recommend) or some other tropical island, you’re missing out on your chance to maximize your earnings.

But when the economy is bad, you are most likely going to be fired or unable to find a great high paying job. The average person now waits four months to find a job. If you are going to spend four months doing anything, why not spend it in Europe or China or bouncing around Central America? Best to ride out the storm somewhere else. Moreover, you may find a new passion or opportunity that would never have presented itself otherwise.

Author Tim Ferris is famous for his book on the four hour work week. That may not be realistic for all of us but he strikes upon a great point in his book- the idea of mini-retirements. Most of us work towards retirement, that time when we can sit back, relax, and do what we want instead of what we have to do. But by the time most of us get there, we’re old, we can’t do what we wanted when we were younger, life is different, or we might be sick. Or maybe, we never make it to retirement. People put off their dreams for a future that may never come. You can’t delay life. You just need to make the most of it now. Taking a break is like a mini-retirement. It gives you a chance to stop delaying all those things you want to do and helps you relax because when was the last time you really did that?

So the next time you have visions of white sand beaches or climbing Mt. Everest, just do it. You never know what you’ll miss by waiting.

  1. Lily

    VERY inspirational! I like the “just do it” mentality. And I’m with Carla – it’s the little things (like selling the car, etc.) that is scary.

  2. i totally agree. that’s why i left for my long term travel when i was in my 20’s. the golden years may never happen. i’ll tell you a story, what totally pushed me to go – NOW! i was talking to my dentist, she was a family friend, and was telling her about me wanting to go travel the world. and she’s like you gotta work, when my husband and i plan on doing that after working. sad to say, one year later she was diagnosed with cancer and died. it’s very sad, but she was working hard, barely seeing her family, for the one-day-retirement!

  3. Well said, Matt! It was Tim Ferriss’ book that finally convnced me to sell almost everything I owned – house, cars, furniture, etc – quit my job, and take my wife and 2 daughters on a world tour.

    We’ve been gone over 6 months now, and it’s definitely been an invigorating, life-altering experience for all of us.

    Thanks for all the great information here – you’ve been a valuable resource to us even though we’ve never met!

  4. great post but I think it’s important to note that travel is not the only escape from the daily grind. There are an infinite amount of ways to get away and relieve stress, traveling is just one of the best ones.

    After 5 and a half years of studying engineering in school I knew I needed a break. Now I am living it up in China teaching ESL in a very exciting, low-stress environment. How long will I be here? Who knows….

  5. NomadicMatt

    @marc: I’m sure tim would love hearing that!

    @graham: travel can be a break from anything

    @bill: CONGRATS! I look forward to your adventures

    @Nate: thanks for sharing and look forward to reading your adventures

    Seems a lot of you are also new commentors, I’ll be visiting and RSS feeding your website today :)

  6. Matt, so glad to read your thoughts. You echo many of our sentiments concerning why we took off for a year last month. Jeremy lost his job (finance isn’t really a great market right now) and we were both done with LA. Sure, we could move to another city and try our luck, but now is a terrible time for such a task. Both jobless, bearing the brunt of travel expenses and relocation. Both searching in a spite of rising unemployment… a recipe for disaster.

    Traveling for a year abroad costs less than simply living in a large urban center like LA. For us, the decision concerning what to do with this year came down to traveling or going back to school.

    Sure, by traveling we aren’t putting any money in the pot, but we are learning and keeping our spirits up while the economy finds balance. We still want to move to a new city, but we want to find a time that will provide less of an uphill battle.

    On a more personal note, finding inspiration to be your own boss doesn’t come easily during a downturn in the economy. Huge centers of capitalism like Los Angeles can zap the drive from any hardworking bee. A breath of fresh air is exactly what we need to be able to hit the ground running and inspire ourselves to create.

  7. esha

    “I left a comment plugging my site but didn’t add value to the article above.”

    Nomadic Matt: That’s ok. I moderated your comment away.

  8. NomadicMatt

    @esha: if you want to plug your website, send me an e-mail. don’t leave a fake comment. comment has been moderated out the door….

  9. Great essay…. However, to get away doesn’t mean traveling to some — perhaps exotic — foreign land. I’ve lived in an RV for eight years exploring North America and my curiosity keeps me finding new places. There will be no end to satisfying my nomadic addiction.

  10. Hey Matt, – Loved the plug for 4HWW – Before reading it I thought the travel bug was gonna to lead to my demise, that or bankruptcy. My goal now is to find some way to make a living while doing the things I love. Seems like you’ve been doing that for a while now. Good work man.

    I completely agree that during “unstable economic times” that people just have to relax and take things as they come. The world won’t stop spinning just because a few people lost their jobs. Who wants to work anyways. haha – Keep up the good work Matt!

  11. Couldn’t of said it better myself as it’s the exact reasons my husband and I are going to go off for our own round the world adventure in June. However, we are sure having a hard time going through all the required preparations right now in this economy!! Mostly dealing with our condo and mortgages etc. I can see how that alone could steer someone off to thinking it’s not the right idea.

    Thanks for this article to just reinstate we are not crazy and all this hard work is going to pay off immensely once we get on that plane!

  12. Indeed it is a great time to travel, I actually volunteered for redundancy in my job to do exactly that. It’s nice to see alternative reasons for travelling though as a option away from the usual career driven.
    Career driven people are usually boring I find too, and can’t contribute to much more then discussions on their own careers.

  13. NomadicMatt

    Ya know, reading the comments I am so happy to find out that many are using the current economy to say “I’ll be back later” and going to travel around the world. That brings a smile to my face

  14. Craig Barnes

    Working through the best years of your life is no way to live. I’m not selling any more hours of my life than necessary to live the lifestyle I want. I’ve tried structuring my life around that 8 hour, daily session of doing other peoples chores and regardless of what those chores are, it’s just a dull existence. People call the modern world “progress” – but who the hell wants to stare into a screen for 12 hours a day for the sake of progress? It’s strange how people are most happy when they own practically nothing – it gives you time to appreciate life and people and forget about the traps of modern living.

  15. Great Post. I totally agree with what you say. I am always advocating travel. I have some friends who buy really expensive stuff, but are very reluctant to spend money on travel. Travel changes your life in ways you don’t expect and I am sad that some people stay away from it.

  16. Like your perspective..I would like to just travel..but if I have to leave the country, its very expensive..ironically domestic travel by flight costs more than say bangkok or singapore..

  17. I so agree with you on this. WHY are people waiting until they’re retired to do stuff? They very often do not do all this stuff then anyway. It’s just an excuse.

    Me? Well, I have a hubby that has a newly started project that keep him here for a while now in the beginning AND I’ve got some health investigations coming up, other from that we would be gone!!!!

    You see, excuses even from me…. *giggles*

    To my defense I say: even if I got a lot of health issues I’ve managed to travel rather much anyway.

    It’s all about what you want and your own attitude :-)

  18. john

    you are so right Matt.
    I have to say Matt, you are one cultured man. I admire you and wish more people could be like you. I live in Chicago USA, i’m considered a minority in the states, and i am visiting the philippines in august. chicago sucks, and so many people living here in chicago are racist and ignorant. to many people here in Chicago work like slaves, going to their office jobs day in and day out. It can really burn you out, and cause mental illness. Chicago is so controlled, and you feel like you are under a microscope with all the red light cameras, cameras in the street etc. Police are everywhere, almost like a police state. taxes are high, the winters are miserably cold, and people are just cold and rude in the streets and public. chicago never used to be like this. but after 9/11 things really changed. seriously no joke. im not saying the philippines does not have problems, it does some really major problems, but the people in the philippines overall seem to be more relaxed and friendly in general. now this is just my opinion, but i am sure other people will agree. I believe that it all comes down to what a person wants to do in their lives. but overall in the world we have the have’s and have not’s. The have not’s tend to suffer, but the have’s overall have a pretty decent life. traveling is for anyone, but many people are scared to travel outside their comfort zone. people are scared to be around someone else who looks different. The media has worsened this and glorified that the “other people” are dangerous.
    people just travel to someplace different. And my advice to Americans that are reading this post, “Las Vegas, Walt Disney World, or even the Caribean do not qualify as a “real” vacation”

  19. I agree that traveling have many benefits especially for the mental one. This is also one of the ways to relax and unwind after all that year of hard work. So, it’s more of a prize for yourself for a wonderful year that had passed.

  20. Traveling can be physically tiring tiring but the experience is worth the physical challenges. It can widen your horizon of experience and could broaden your outlook in life.

  21. sobrie tuah

    hi matt. u are my inspiration to make my own travel blog..currently its just a free blog, but i will upgrade later.. enjoy ur life matt and thanks

  22. Marielle

    Hey, I’m actually doing a persuasive essay in my speech class on travelling, I’m trying to convince them to travel. I came upon your website and thought it was just the most awesome thing. I agree with your points and actually had those in my speech. Just thought I would leave that comment. Have fun travelling!

  23. couldn’t agree more… great article! i’ve been following your blog for a couple of weeks now and i sure am getting a lot of useful tips especially for a newbie like me… thanks!!!

  24. Jorrit

    Completely agree, Matt. My wife and I packed our eight year old daughter into a camper van a few years back to go travelling. We were burned out from the corporate life. Our time touring the UK and then travelling abroad turned everything around for us. It brought us back to basics and we were able to re-design our lives entirely. It’s not always been an easy journey since but we wouldn’t have missed the travel or our new sense of adventure for anything.

  25. I completely agree with this post and there are some really great points in the comments as well. I think that as long as you don’t put yourself into debt to go travelling, you’re best off doing it while you’re young. You can’t turn back the clock and become young again…but you can always make more money!

      • Michael Churm

        A friend of mine foolishly took out a £12k loan to travel the world, it bought his flights, a £2k South American tour and his insurance. He left with the remaining funds and only ended up staying in SE Asia for 6 months before returning home broke. It was a case of doing it too young, he still had the ‘lads holiday’ mentality and blew all his money on partying, and to top it off he didn’t even get to go to South America to use the tour he paid for. What a waste.

        Debt is for mugs. Plus If you work hard to save for the dream trip, it is far more rewarding.

  26. Another Great Article! Thanks Matt! It is very inspiring to read your thoughts. We quit our jobs, sold everything and left Australia for our overseas trip and although at times I think of home and get a little tear, this article was a great reminder of the wonders of travel and the amazing journey we are on!
    Thanks for the boost up!
    Elise (one half of Positive World Travel!)

  27. This Tuesday I will move to Bali. I have spent four months of the last year there, and am ready to break out of the chains of my seasonal job and go for it! It’s scary and unpredictable, but isn’t that what keeps us feeling alive? I did some of my best soul searching on my last trip. Conclusion: do it now before it’s too late!

    Thanks for the affirmation!


  28. kayt

    I am in my mid twenties and have never left the country. I have a massively free spirit but A strong sense of structure, which enables me to think about the now sometimes. I haven’t decided if I should go back to school, postpone my amazing job, stay with the love of my life, or just say screw it all, and travel. I really don’t make amazing money for saving up and traveling, nor do I make amazing money in general. I am at a crossroads and need to find my true happiness. What would be the best way to do this without screwing myself over when I get back? that is, if I decide to travel.

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