Traveling After College Won’t Fill a Void. What to Consider Before Leaving Home

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After finishing college, so many graduates plan to travel. Traveling is a reward for all your hard work, and breaks up the last four to five years of your college life. If you didn’t get the chance to travel for school, say, if you went to a local university, then you might be feeling even more trapped than your peers.

What Traveling Doesn’t Fix

A lot of people believe traveling will change their life; that it’ll change who they are, their perspective, and make them more humble or worldly. While these are all things that traveling can offer, changing your environment isn’t the answer. Any problems you might be distancing yourself from will follow–likely because they are internal conflicts in the first place.

There’s a societal and cultural narrative that if you don’t move out of your parents’ home by a certain age, you’ve failed at life. This easily gets extended into, “if you don’t move out of your hometown, you’ve failed.”

There are challenges and conflicts you’ll never face as long as you stay in your comfort zone, and even more that you might not encounter if you don’t leave home. This doesn’t mean you’re “less” of a person, though. Or, on the contrary, it doesn’t mean you’re “more” of a person if you take these risks and challenges head-on, especially without any kind of planning or foresight.

You might have some friends who have taken the plunge: they moved to another city, several states away, and dove into work and their “new life.” Depending on their intentions and motivations, they might be listless, fearful that they made a mistake, homesick for their friends, and in a way, upset about the complete upheaval of the support network they took for granted.

Planning Your Trip

This is where planning and foresight come in handy. While adults might move out of their parents’ homes or hometowns, they don’t do it without a plan.

Make an inventory. Why do you want to move? Is it for opportunity? Is it an aimless wandering sensation, or a concrete goal or place you’d like to settle down?

Do some research about destinations by looking at the cost of living, public transit, and cultural differences. Don’t forget to factor in average salaries, too. A town with an average of $600 monthly rent might seem cheap, until you realize the average wage is only $16,000.

If you find yourself analyzing any place and thinking it’d fit the bill, ask yourself why. Invariably, any town that is the same size as the one you are leaving is probably pretty much the same in terms of culture, nightlife, events, concerts, activities, and “things-to-do.” Pick a place, and do some research. Overviews like Movoto’s “Move-To” guides can help, and City-Data forums can help solidify smaller details like cost of living and cultural differences.

Plan your move/trip. What essentials do you need? What can you leave behind or sell? Conduct a serious examination of what you have in your life and what brings you joy. The KonMari method of decluttering and organizing your life can be extremely valuable for helping get your personal space on track.

Arriving in a New City or Country

When you arrive at your destination, make sure you set yourself up to succeed. Getting comfortable can take some time, but don’t settle down too much. You have to work to do. Get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to face some adversity, something that challenges you. After all, you didn’t move so you could remain in the same place. Don’t hole yourself up. Meet coworkers after work, or classmates outside of class. Pursue your hobbies, especially if they can be done in groups. Hopefully, if you moved for work, your company has a culture you can mesh with easily.

If you’re planning on carving out your life abroad, make sure you brush up on your language skills. If you don’t have the time to commit to learning an entire new language, at least plan a back up, like a translation book or translation apps. The book will likely prove valuable when your phone inevitably dies twenty miles (or kilometers) outside of town.

Stay in touch with your friends or relatives. While they might not be actively in your life anymore, they’ll want to hear or at least listen to your new life. They might even visit! Don’t ignore making new friends or forging new connections, though.

Whether you’re only traveling for a few weeks, months, or moving to an entirely new country, these are some of the steps you can take to make sure your decision is made from the right frame of mind. Your expectations should be tempered, and you want to avoid making a rash and impulsive decision. If you truly crave a “perspective-altering” experience, your best place to start is within yourself, by examining what you really can expect or what you want to get out of your trip or new home.

written by Edwin Henry

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