To take a year off to travel solo at 19 or not

Travel Forums General Talk To take a year off to travel solo at 19 or not

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1. Posted by BrokenSail (Budding Member 6 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

So I'm 19m and have just finished the first year of my bachelor, and am very seriously considering taking a year off my studies to travel solo. In fact I have already been working and saving to do it this year, but now doubts are setting in.

I've had a little solo travelling experience (bikepacking for a week in Germany, travelling to Paris and Vienna without hostel reservations) so I can manage myself on the basic level but I've never been self-dependent for more than a week. The idea is so exciting though and I'm aching to just explore and experience all the stuff I've been imaging this year.

The problem is that I'm planning on a pretty long study-path of like 7-8 years, and I don't want to be 30 when I finish, so I'm not sure if I can afford taking another year off in my mid-twenties.
It feels like I'm 'using' or 'spending' my one year that I have to travel far too early and impulsively as I don't have much of a plan and not a huge budget.

The kindof weird thing is, I still feel like I'm 'young' now and have the feeling that at 22 I'll be 'old'. I know this is bullshit because 22 is still young and I felt the same way about being 19 when I was 17 but idk, I still want to do this in my teenage years.

I have also read that the older you get you get less impressionable? Like things like the burj khalifa and mountains that I want to see now won't be the same to me?

I've had a year of studying from home because of covid, and windows backgrounds have been teasing me with sick pictures and locations of nature. I want to go but I don't know about having to spend the next 7 years studying back to back. Any advice? Thanks.

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2966 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Nah I'm 51 and new places are still jaw-dropping. :)

You'll always find travellers encourage you to travel. Do you have a plan for where you'd go? Have you got savings, or would you need to go somewhere you can work your way around? Usually the one good reason to delay travel is to save up more so it's easier.

3. Posted by BrokenSail (Budding Member 6 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I have nothing specific in mind, rather locations like "Iceland" and "California" but I think I'll get around. Right now I have the funds for a few months, but I'm planning on indeed working while travelling and also coming home to work full-time for a month or two before leaving again.
Thanks for your reply. :)

4. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 6437 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

>I have also read that the older you get you get less impressionable? Like things like the burj khalifa and mountains that I want to see now won't be the same to me?

Whatever you've read is a load of old twaddle. As Andy says, if places are gob-smacking/interesting/stunning/amazing/whatever they're gob-smacking/ditto the first time you see them whether you're 16 or 86.

>I've never been self-dependent for more than a week

That worries me slightly. Although you'll almost certainly meet like-minded people if you stay in hostels etc it's very important that you're resilient enough to cope with your own company for extended periods of time. Be honest with yourself: if you don't feel you're ready to be entirely self-dependent and self-reliant for potentially lengthy periods of time give yourself the time and space to develop the resiliency and independence you need. There's no shame in doing that.

>It feels like I'm 'using' or 'spending' my one year that I have to travel far too early and impulsively as I don't have much of a plan and not a huge budget.

Having a decent budget...and access to substantial emergency funds... matters enormously, as does having proper travel and health insurance which covers medical repatriation and, god forbid, repatriation of your body.

Maybe you could split your year, using some of it to earn more money for travel? Or you could start by taking a couple of shorter trips ...say, 2 or 3 weeks....to check that you feel ok about being self-dependent?

[ Edit: Edited on 27 Aug 2022, 21:20 GMT by leics2 ]

5. Posted by BrokenSail (Budding Member 6 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for your worries.
It is the self-reliance that I am actually pretty excited and confident about. I've always been (or tried to be) stubbornly independent and I've felt like a different person on the road.
I think that it will actually be good for me to be on a different continent on my own, imagining it feels like a whole different world. Of course we'll see how it is when I get there but for now I'm willing to go for it.

I will probably indeed split my year but I aim to spend at least 9 of the 12 months away. Thanks for the advice, and its good to hear that gob-smackeness doesn't fade.

[ Edit: Edited on 27 Aug 2022, 21:58 GMT by BrokenSail ]

6. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 5655 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Some countries are cheaper to visit and even live in for a while. For instance, my budget would go farther in Southeast Asia than Japan or Korea. Google type search will give you cheapest and most expensive countries to visit.

"Right now I have the funds for a few months, but I'm planning on indeed working while travelling..."

For any country you visit you have to abide by their entry requirements. You may not be able to stay as long as you want without official permission. Some countries don't want foreigners taking jobs away from their citizens. For some visitors who want to work overseas legally there may be a Work Permit required. (When you settle on a particular country pull up some of the Expat Forums for that country. There you may get some advice and maybe a work-around for some work permits.)

Do NOT travel with a single source of spending money. Stuff happens, you may lose or someone you trust steals your single debit or credit card. (Or both! ) If you do not have a credit card try applying now while you still have a job. You may have an emergency come up back home and need to return home immediately. This is when a credit card can come in hand. But you have to take care that you do not foolishly go crazy buying too much stuff on credit!

I have lived in 3 countries and visited many others. Being a retired old fart I still get a kick out of travel. What keeps some retirees from traveling more is money and medical issues. Being young, money may be your biggest obstacle unless you have generous parents.

Good luck.

7. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 6437 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

>I'm planning on indeed working while travelling

You'll need to fully investigate whether you're legally allowed to work in the countries you want to visit without a work visa/permit.

Working illegally is, imo, not only immoral (you're taking jobs from citizens of that country) but also madness because a) it is illegal, can involve the authorities (not pleasant), can lead to detention and deportation...something which will mess up your visa applications to any country for the rest of your life and b) it can too easily involve much unpleasantness (employers who use illegal workers generally aren't nice people).

>It is the self-reliance that I am actually pretty excited and confident about.

Glad to hear it. As long you know for certain that you'll be ok on your own for decent periods of time (emotionally as well as practically) you'll be fine.

> If you do not have a credit card try applying now while you still have a job

Karazyal's mention of a credit card makes me wonder if, at 19, you actually have one? If not, I doubt you'll be able to get one if you aren't in regular employment/have a regular source of income but it's definitely something worth investigating.

If you haven't got & can't get a credit card I strongly suggest you set up an account with a different bank, put your pre-travel earnings into it and thus get another debit card. Having two cards available when travelling is much, much safer than hoping just one will keep working/not get lost or stolen. Keep one account/card/set of funds purely for emergencies.

Mastercard & Visa are the most widely accepted logos by far.

>its good to hear that gob-smackeness doesn't fade.

I genuinely think the only age-related difference in reaction is that most older people tend not to make such open demonstrations of gob-smackedness (e.g multiple loud exclamations & shrieks of amazement/joy/happiness, multiple social media posts with exclamatory declarations, excited references going on for hours/days/weeks) that some younger people do. Maybe that's why the person who wrote what you read got it so very wrong?

8. Posted by BrokenSail (Budding Member 6 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

(When you settle on a particular country pull up some of the Expat Forums for that country. There you may get some advice and maybe a work-around for some work permits.)

Thanks for the tip, I love legal work-arounds. :)

I'll try not to work illegally, but I've also heard of programmes that accept travelling workers in exchange for housing and food, but no money. This also seems like a really cheap way to extend my travelling period a bit, and I think there are no legal problems attached?

Karazyal's mention of a credit card makes me wonder if, at 19, you actually have one?

I got myself a credit card this year, so that's alright. I might considering putting some money in bitcoin or something, so that I'll always have access to money in some way.

Thanks for your help.

9. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 5655 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

"considering putting some money in bitcoin or something, so that I'll always have access to money in some way."

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I think you will be better off putting money in a bank in a checking account that has a debit card. Much easier overseas to slip your debit card into an ATM and get cash immediately. (Don't know where you are from.) Some card providers take care of ATM fees. Overseas, I take out the maximum I can at one time. Example, same fee for the equivalent withdrawal of $100 or $500.

Bitcoin. (Not my first choice, but I am an old fart!)

Up to you.

[ Edit: Edited on 28 Aug 2022, 10:02 GMT by karazyal ]

10. Posted by BrokenSail (Budding Member 6 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

The idea is that I need no physical objects for a bitcoin ATM. Although these are rare, I think it'll still be useful to have 50 bucks on there for a phone in case I'm robbed naked.