Kyle Gundrum is the executive director at INTERalliance and co-founder of CityNova, and he’s only 24 years old. He also created and sold his own card game earlier this year (which we’ll get to at the end of the interview).
Needless to say, he’s an interesting guy who gets stuff done.
Since many of you are interested in college success, networking, and traveling, we’re lucky because Kyle is the man when it comes to these topics. As you’ll see in the interview, Kyle is a jack of all trades who excels at anything he puts his mind to.
Although we both live in Cincinnati, I didn’t know Kyle until we connected on social media and decided to get together for a sushi lunch. Thank God we did because Kyle and I hit it off so well sharing similar positive energy and ambition about many subjects.
On my way home from lunch, I immediately knew he’d be a great interview for the Take Your Success community.
If you’re looking for a good read in the topic of personal development and optimizing your life, you’re going to love this interview. Plus, remember to check out my key takeaway at the end.
Brian: During college, you were a full-time student with a full-time job, served as president of your fraternity, and had other responsibilities. How did you manage your time? Did you use any particular schedule, tools, or apps?
Kyle: Very carefully and intentionally. Managing my time felt like a job itself, as it was also important to me to have an active social life and travel frequently. Time management when you’re too busy is about conscious decisions, planning in advance, and often making sacrifices.
Generally once each month, I’d sit down and spend an hour or so thinking about my priorities and what I wanted to accomplish that month. I’d make a list (in order of priority) of what I needed to focus on. Then I’d use that as a guide as I made daily scheduling decisions.
List social time as a priority and decide where it falls—then actually follow the path you set for yourself. This means if your blog is priority #2 and social time is priority #4, sometimes you’re going to have to decide to stay in and write instead of going out with friends.
Or if you’re one of the people involved with 28 clubs in college, you might realize you just don’t have time to attend the meetings or actively contribute, which should be an indication maybe you should shed some commitments so you aren’t letting anyone down. Be willing to make sacrifices so you don’t drop the ball on your important goals… which requires knowing what should be sacrificed and what should be a priority.
Finally, I used technology quite a bit to stay on track. Google Calendar runs my life—if I lost access to my account, my life would be in turmoil. I put everything in it, including social time, exercise, time driving between places, etc.
This really helps in visualizing your schedule and knowing when it might be smart to work ahead because you have a few jam-packed days coming up.
I also suggest a to-do list manager like Wunderlist, GQueues, or Todoist… find what works for you and go with it. But definitely use one. You may be smart, but it’s impossible to remember everything.
Brian: Please tell us one of your biggest personal takeaways from your college experience. This could relate to personal-development, academics, social life, career, or anything else that comes to mind.
Kyle: My biggest college takeaway: decide what you want to get out of each year of college and pursue it.
For me, I earned a great GPA and attended most of my classes, but class wasn’t my biggest priority. As a lifelong independent learner, it’s not what I wanted to get out of college.
This opened up time for me, not to binge watch shows on Netflix, but to take on important roles in several organizations and to grow immensely as a person. I have never regretted this decision.
This comes with the caveat that everyone should pick their own priorities—I was a business student. Academics should probably always be the top priority of someone in engineering, architecture, or another more strenuous program.
Brian: What was it like to prepare for and give a TEDx Talk? (Readers, view the video here.)
Kyle: First of all, I was shocked to be invited. One of the founding TEDxUCincinnati team members is a longtime friend of mine, and she suggested I fill out their application to be a speaker. I was interviewed and invited to be a speaker, and then I spent weeks thinking about which topic I should cover amid the vast landscape of what’s important to me.
Then, once I picked my topic, I spent even more weeks thinking about the best way to convey my thoughts, as well as practicing my talk.
It was an honor to give a TEDx Talk, as I was able to share something incredibly important to me with hundreds of people. It helps now that the talk is on YouTube, as people still watch it and use it as a conversation starter when they meet me.
If you ever see TEDx coming to your community, definitely consider applying and speaking… you won’t regret it!
Brian: Honestly if you’re not the best networker I know, you’re in the top five. What are some tangible actions for Take Your Success readers to network better and expand their professional connections? We all know a large part in getting a job is who you know.
Kyle: My best networking advice? Don’t network. Let me explain.
Traditionally, “networking” is seen as adding people to your LinkedIn, collecting business cards, and grabbing coffee and talking about your career. This helps for sure, but it’s really wasting an opportunity to build deeper relationships with people.
Of course, you need to follow conventional networking advice. Connect via social media with influencers in your field. Go to relevant events, career fairs, and meetups. Try to get the contact information and follow up with everyone you meet.
But MY #1 networking tip… make it personal. This doesn’t mean you need to ask probing questions that’ll make people uncomfortable—don’t do that. But rather than just asking people what they do for their job and reciting for them the top half of your resume… ask them why they chose their career field. Why they enjoy it, what irritates them about it. How they like living in their city. Who mentored them along the way. Then ask them if you could consider them a mentor as you navigate your career.
This is the beginning of a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship in which they feel invested in your success. So much better than the same old cookie-cutter career fair conversation.
Brian: Everyone loves to travel, especially young adults. But from my experience, money is the number one roadblock. So how do you travel all the time for cheap and what can we learn?
Kyle: I’m actually working on a comprehensive and very, very long post about this, I’ll send you a link when it’s published so you can amend this. For now: use Google Flights, Momondo, and Skyscanner to find cheap flights, and don’t forget to look for low-cost carriers like Allegiant and Frontier. Megabus is often a great option as well.
If you’re going to a large city (or anywhere in Europe!), consider staying in a hostel. It may be intimidating at first, but I’ve stayed in 25+ hostel in North America and Europe, and I’ve never had a bad experience. Often I have a better experience in hostels than I would have in a hotel. And you can usually snag a hostel for $15-25/night.
Look for Groupons for cheap things to do while you’re there—or better yet, read local newspapers for free events (or Google “free things to do in ______”). Eat at local places rather than expensive tourist traps. Since you’re staying at a hostel now, ask the people at the front desk or other travelers what to do and where to eat because they’ll have money-saving tips for you.
The most helpful overarching tip is to be flexible. You might be able to save $75 if you leave a day earlier or come back a few days later… or save the trip for a few months later. Stay at a hostel because do you really need daily room service and branded bottles of cheap shampoo?
Brian: You left your first job out of school at General Electric to pursue another career route. Why did you make this decision?
Kyle: Don’t get me wrong: GE was great. I loved my job and I was super lucky to be selected for it. At this time in my life, Corporate America just wasn’t for me. My dad is an entrepreneur and I’ve worked for small companies and non-profits since I was 16. It was challenging for me to transition to one of the largest companies in the world with 300k+ employees.
I personally like knowing everything about all of the projects going on at work and personally knowing all of the employees. That’s not possible at such a huge company.
So while I would say there are amazing opportunities at large companies most people would love… I’m a really unique case and it wasn’t for me. (Maybe I’ll feel differently when I’m older and a more stable, consistent job might be more attractive!)
Brian: What are you up to now? How can readers learn more?
Kyle: I’m working tirelessly on my startup CityNova, which showcases local entertainment options and inspires readers to experience new things.
We also made a Cincinnati-themed unofficial Cards Against Humanity game called When Pigs Fly. It’s not an expansion deck, it’s a complete game with 300 cards of unique Cincinnati-specific content. The game’s launch was incredible, as it was covered by pretty much every media outlet in Cincinnati with more to come… and we’re getting a lot of positive feedback on the game.
I’m also going back to school this fall for a master’s degree in Information Technology and just took a role with a nonprofit organization called INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati as its Executive Director.
I post things on CityNova’s site all the time, and feel free to connect with me on Twitter!
(Brian is back.) After Kyle Gundrum’s insightful interview, I could have highlighted many different themes.
But I want to focus on the one that stood out to me the most. And that’s how intentional Kyle is in everything he does. He acts with a deliberate purpose and it pays off, that’s for sure.
In every response, from his college priority list to travel hacks, he’s planned ahead to get the most out of his time, energy, or money.
These intentions give his mind something to focus on, which helps him execute his goal and get more out of the opportunity.
So I want to encourage and challenge you to be more intentional going forward.
What are your intentions at school in the fall? If you’re just going because you’re supposed to, then you’re not getting the most out of it. Be intentional to run for the leadership team of a student org, find a career you’re passionate about, or get a high grade point average and admissions test score for grad school.
What are your intentions at work? If you don’t have any other intentions than to get paid, you’re leaving a lot of benefits on the table. Be intentional to network (remember to keep it personal), learn from more experienced employees, or find a mentor.
Make it a habit to be intentional and you’ll find success. I believe in you!
Related: How To Minimalist Pack Like A Pro
How To Minimalist Pack Like A Pro
Why should you want to minimalist pack like a pro in the first place?
Doesn’t that mean you have less clothing, technology, and toiletry to choose from when you’re traveling? More options is always better right?
Not so fast, old sport.
I’ve been both a traveling hoarder and minimalist, and I’d pick the minimalist lifestyle every time.
Here’s a painful experience that changed my perspective forever.
Back in 2013 as a college student, I had to pack for a six-week trip to the South Pacific island Fiji.
Since I had no experience traveling anywhere for longer than a week, I got a little (very) carried away packing.
No joke, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I packed every single t-shirt, muscle shirt, and pair of shorts I owned. I even added some sweat pants to be safe—this is Fiji we’re talking, where the average temperature is 75°F and the coldest it gets is 70°F.
Yeah, I’m an idiot.
Not to mention I had the biggest suitcase I could find, which also persuaded my monkey brain to bring as much as I could.
I also threw in completely random items like a construction worker’s neon vest, a cowboy hat, and a football—in case I might need them.
Yeah, I know, not so smart.
Well besides having to haul this giant, overflowing suitcase to the airport, I also had to sweat out my luggage making the 50 pound weight limit.
And I shouldn’t have been surprised since I packed like an idiot, but it came out as 52 pounds!
Mind you that I’m a guy. I didn’t bring a straightener, hair dryer, makeup back, or anything else that many girls have to bring. It was 99% all clothes that I drastically overpacked.
The long story short is I had to put on a few extra shirts on top of the shirt I already had on and I took a sweatshirt out to carry it (so not comfortable for 19 hours of flying) to get my luggage under 50 pounds.
But once we landed in Fiji, my problems didn’t end.
I didn’t enjoy carrying this heavy luggage, packing it into the bus, taking it out, and hauling it up the steps. And during the day-to-day trip, it meant I had to do more laundry and manage more clothes each day. I also faced the weight limit on the plane ride back.
The bottom line is I learned my lesson: Overpacking because “I might need something” is not the answer.
And this Fiji experience is just one scenario of many stories from my life where minimalism would have saved me.
Because minimalist packing and traveling light is now a God-send in my life. Here’s what you’ve been missing if you don’t pack light.
Benefits Of Minimalist Packing
Travel comfortably – A clear benefit for traveling lighter is it’s easier and puts less strain on your body when you’re moving to different locations.
For example, when you have to carry luggage to the airport, then to the boat dock, then on the bus to your hostel, do you want a 45-pound beast or a light 12-pound backpack by your side?
If you’re backpacking through the countryside day to day, it’s crucial you pack light for your sanity and lower back.
And you also don’t ever have to worry about the airline losing your luggage if you only bring a small piece of luggage that fits in the overhead compartment or under your feet on the plane, or getting your luggage stolen if it stays on your back the entire time.
Little things like that make traveling lighter all the better. (Read this article to see why you should travel.)
Save money – Practicing minimalism can go longer than you think to save you money.
For example, you will save money on baggage fees by only bringing a carry-on luggage.
You can skip out on storage fee costs.
You can cut taxi fees by having more people fit in the car and splitting the bill.
And you’ll buy less unnecessary clothes, travel items, and toiletries in advance of the trip. That could mean saving thousands of dollars right there.
Plus, if you continue to practice minimalism when you come home, now we’re talking about $100,000 or more of savings over a lifetime.
Manage and keep track of less – This benefit also doesn’t take a genius to understand. The less stuff you bring means you have less to keep track of during the trip.
Specifically, that’s less to pack, less to organize, less to wash, less to dry, less to fold, and less to transport.
It’s truly an underrated benefit to know everything you have and where it’s located.
Plus, you don’t face regret for bringing heavy items that you never use and know you’re not going to in the future.
Feel accomplished – While minimalism makes your trip easier, it’s not easy to pull off at first—especially if you’ve gone through your entire life as an overpacker and hoarder.
That’s why you’ll feel accomplished when you’re efficient with your luggage and traveling.
You stepped up to the challenge, made difficult decisions, and achieved what you set out to.
Feeling good from trying a different way to travel and coming out on the winning side is another benefit of minimalism. For Type A personalities like me, we love this stuff!
Be happy for the right reasons – This is the final and most important reason: When you travel minimalist, you’ll feel content because of where you are, who you’re with, and who you are—not what you have.
This reason exceeds all of the others in my opinion. Because you truly will have a happier trip as a minimalist.
You won’t be mentally or physically tied down by worrying about your belongings.
You won’t be upset about carrying heavy luggage, you’ll feel relieved your luggage is so light.
You will spend less time mentally and physically dealing with your clothes and gear, providing more time to enjoy life.
The idea that minimalism improves your outlook on your trip is powerfully real.
How To Minimalist Pack
Use a travel backpack or hardshell suitcase – Depending on your trip, aim to fit everything you need into a backpack or one hardshell suitcase.
Using only one of these will push you to minimalism based on the limited amount of room.
You can just use a school backpack like I did. Or if you’re a frequent traveler then you may want to invest in a travel-specific backpack.
And I wouldn’t go with softside luggage because it gives you the option to overpack based on how it’s designed to stretch for more room. Hardshell suitcases offer these nice benefits:
- Push you to minimalism because you can’t stretch it for more room
- Waterproof for any environment
- Last long-term
- Easier to navigate with four wheels instead of two
You can go here to get a good idea of a quality hardshell suitcase.
Pack 7 days in advance – If you’re in a rush and packing the night before or the morning of your trip, the odds of you being efficient go down the drain.
Your brain will default into overpacking, because it’s easy to, instead of minimalist packing, which takes some brain power.
I recommend you pack 7 days in advance.
This gives your subconscious brain time to think over anything necessary you might be forgetting. And if you do need something for the trip you don’t have, then you still have a few days to buy it.
Most things in life are better executed through preparation, minimalist packing included.
Only bring essentials – The time has come to decide what clothes, technology, and toiletries make the cut and what ones are left behind.
This is where it gets difficult, especially if you’re new to minimalism. My advice is to not overthink it. Check this out.
For packing clothes, first consider the climate you’re traveling to. Then only bring your regular clothes that you would normally wear in this weather.
Pack items you will 100% wear, you aren’t repeating (like two watches would be bad, only bring one or none), and that add specific value to your trip.
For example, if you’re going to a tropical island, don’t bring the tank tops that you didn’t wear all last summer. Why would anything be different here? Bring the essentials and move on.
And if you have a washer and dryer where you’re staying, you can pack less knowing you can wash your clothes at any time.
With technology, determine if you need to work on this trip or not. If you don’t need to work, then I’d only bring your phone (that doubles as a camera). If you’re working, then bring your laptop and charger but leave the iPad at home.
And to decide your toiletry, again only bring the essentials. A toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, maybe makeup, and sunscreen is about all you need. The rest you can buy on the trip.
You can consider this exercise a free practice in developing your strategic thinking ability.
And this goes hand in hand with the next minimalist tip.
Don’t bring something “you might need” – My mentality that I might need something once I get there is the reason I overpacked for Fiji. Please don’t repeat my mistake.
If you’re trying to prepare for every scenario, you’ll pack a bunch of unnecessary items that weigh you down mentally and physically.
Like I said in the video above, you can always buy something once you’re there. After all, locals live where you’re going and they have their needs met through local shops. Just bring some extra money to account for this.
Or you can borrow something you need from a fellow traveler, which could be the start of a new friendship.
Whether a weekend road trip or 12 months in a foreign country is your destination, I challenge you to pack and travel like a minimalist.
The only hard part is deciding what to bring before you go. But after you do this, the payoff is huge during your adventure:
- You travel easier and lighter
- You save money
- You have fewer materials to manage and keep track of
- You accomplish a more difficult challenge
- You feel more content because of where you are, who you’re with, and who you are—not what you have
Getting more out of the experience is reason enough to practice minimalism.
So throw out those extra shirts that you packed. Don’t bring three hats, narrow it down to one. And, most importantly, leave home everything you consider bringing because you “might need it.”
The argument you might need them is not a legitimate reason. Either you do need it or you don’t, most of the time you don’t. And worst case scenario, you can borrow it from another traveler or buy it when you’re there.
If I can pull this minimalism stunt off on my trip to Hilton Head and already fall in love with the advantages, then you can and will, too.
Minimalism isn’t the normal way to travel. And the results also aren’t normal.
Related: Want Less Stress? Be A Minimalist
Travel Hack: Set Up A Travel Fund
What’s the first move to push yourself to explore the world? It’s creating a travel fund.
We will get into what this is and how to set up an automated travel fund.
But real quick, I want to set the scene of why you need to save money before you go for an extensive trip on your own dime.
Rolf Potts, author of one of the best travel books Vagabonding, has a knack for travel (what he calls vagabonding) and inspiring others to visit new places.
Read this quote from Mr. Potts:
Thus, the question of how and when to start vagabonding is not really a question at all. Vagabonding starts now. Even if the practical reality of travel is still months or years away, vagabonding begins the moment you stop making excuses, start saving money, and begin to look at maps with the narcotic tingle of possibility. From here, the reality of vagabonding comes into sharper focus as you adjust your worldview and begin to embrace the exhilarating uncertainty that true travel promises.
There are a lot of gems in that excerpt, but I’m going to focus on this: “vagabonding begins the moment you stop making excuses, start saving money.” Because he’s absolutely right!
Now I believe that you can travel for cheap and get scrappy. I’m all for that. But unless your daddy is bankrolling your trip, you still need to have some money saved—whether that’s a few hundred dollars for a short road trip or a few thousand for a three month stay abroad.
This is just basic supply and demand: If you want to travel, then you need to pay for the transportation and cost of living to do it.
And that’s where the travel fund comes in to save the day.
What’s A Travel Fund?
What’s a travel fund? Good question. It’s just a separate savings account that is dedicated solely to travel.
It stores every single penny that you’re eventually going to use for transportation and living expenses. And by keeping this travel money in a separate account, you protect it from being spent on regular day-to-day expenses.
That means you’re not mixing your checking account balance with your travel fund. You’re not mixing your regular savings with your travel savings.
No, the travel fund is its own savings account that’s only purpose is to save money for travel.
Now as much as this travel fund is used for function (which we’ll get into in the next section), it’s also a powerful symbol of your adventure. The more money in there, the closer you are to takeoff.
This symbolism will inspire you to save more money because you’re in control now of how soon you get to leave. For example, that expensive dinner won’t be as appealing anymore, because you’ll want to eat at home to save money and leave for your trip sooner.
Maybe most important, a travel fund gives you the freedom to have a great time overseas without going in debt or regretting your spending.
It’s much more enjoyable to spend an extra two weeks in Portugal to do more sightseeing than end your stay early because you don’t have the money.
I hope by now you see how powerful it is to set up a travel fund.
All that’s left to do is check out the best way to set up your own travel fund.
How To Save And Set Up A Travel Fund
Like I wrote in my post titled Best Savings Account for 2017, if you want to get serious about saving your money, then you need to set up an automated system.
Nothing can compete with its efficiency. Set it up once, and then it’s a 100% hands off system that guarantees you’re making progress to save money.
Plus, it requires no willpower—where manually saving money is decision-heavy and often ineffective.
And here’s how this automated system specifically works for you and your travel fund. Once it’s set up, it goes like this:
- Your checking account receives income.
- The next day, your checking account automatically transfers money to a separate (different bank) savings account—aka your travel fund.
- Transfers repeat every month.
- You end up with a big, fat travel fund to see the world.
To get this automated travel fund set up, I personally use and recommend you set up a savings account through Capital One 360.
What I love about Capital One 360 is they have the highest quality customer service I’ve ever experienced with a bank. Plus, there are no fees or minimum balance required, their 0.75% interest rate is higher than most bank interest rates, and you can name your account.
The screenshot below shows my Capital One 360 travel fund and other funds.
Once you have an account and name it Travel, the next step is to go check the calendar date you normally receive your paycheck. Then schedule an automatic transfer for the day after you get paid (or two days after to be safe). And that’s it! You’re all set up.
I think too many people overthink travel and take some enjoyment out of it in the process leading up to and during it.
Let’s make your life easier. This is all you need to do.
Do some research to figure out where you want to go and for how long (could take as little as 30 minutes). Roughly estimate how much you have to save to get there and live there (could take 30 more minutes). Save money (could take a few months or more). Go travel!
As a final send off, I’m going to highlight three more quotes that will get you to fall in love with travel:
- “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
- “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
- “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury
Why You Must Travel While You’re Young
I’m always reading, but I never read about traveling. That’s until I stumbled upon the book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts.
This book blew me away! It addresses all the concerns about traveling and then solves or massages each concern.
After this read, I felt like a fool for not enjoying more of (arguably) the greatest treasure in the world, travel. I’ve visited a few countries, but not nearly as many as I want to.
Vagabonding also challenged my thinking.
I love routines and systems, which is perfect for being productive but not so much for getting out of my comfort zone. And maybe that’s the reason why I haven’t traveled as much as I’d like to.
What about you? Did you study abroad in college? Where have you visited and for how long?
For those who haven’t traveled out of the country much, or at all, what’s holding you back?
If you’re hesitant to do an extensive road trip or international adventure, consider this article a pep talk that’s just as much an excuse killer to travel while we’re young.
Why Travel When You’re Young
There are thousands of reasons to travel: get out of your comfort zone, increase global understanding, become cultured, gain new geography and history lessons, learn humility, and practice communication skills. The list could go on and on.
But depending on the topic, I’ve found that a few quality reasons are more persuading than a large quantity of reasons. And for why you should travel as a young adult, I want to focus on three main reasons.
You Build Self Awareness
At home, you can go through your days without reflecting much to learn about yourself.
Do you suck at emotional connection? You can think it’s your friend’s problem and not yours. Are you a bad communicator? You can believe the other guy is a bad listener and go on with your day.
In the same places with the same people, it’s easy to be on autopilot at home. You’re in a bubble.
But when you’re abroad, everything comes to the light. You’re forced to reflect, because even the simple things back home, like eating and going to the bathroom, are all new to you away from home. And because this situation is weird and unfamiliar, you grow.
A different area, language, and culture teach you about your likes and dislikes, your purpose, and what things give you meaning.
You learn you’re more capable than you thought you were when you navigate the streets of Spain to find your destination. You open your mind to new thoughts and joys by playing soccer in an African village. And you take all this experience with you back home.
Self-awareness is not only powerful for personal-development, it’s also a vital skill to develop in your career.
If you’re unhappy at work, the self-aware person will know why and what to look for in another job. The clueless person won’t be able to identify why they’re not happy and find themselves in the same situation at another job.
Self-awareness will tell you that your network is weak and you don’t have many people who will go to bat for you. So it leads you to spend more time helping people and building personal connections with your peers.
Self-awareness and traveling abroad go hand in hand.
You Become A More Valuable Candidate
The ambitious group will excuse themselves from going abroad because they need to focus on their career. Little do they realize that international travel only makes them more valuable as an individual.
For example, imagine learning Spanish in four months abroad and applying to grad school or organizations as bilingual? That’s a game-changer!
Or when your company wants to open a new location in Japan and promote someone in your office to lead the charge. If you’ve spent time teaching English there, then you’re placed at the top of the list.
Even if you’re a bartender in Argentina for a few months, you’ll have great stories during the interview round and will be an intriguing person right off the bat.
Let me be clear though. There’s a difference between a trip filled with only drinking and visiting famous monuments, and doing something valuable while abroad. You only become a more valuable candidate if you put your time overseas to good use.
Bottom line, traveling for an extended time abroad only makes you more valuable, not less. With a global economy, international experience brings you clout.
Do It Now To Eliminate The Risk Of Not Doing It Ever
Young adults procrastinate more on going abroad than they do getting a medical checkup. You say you’re too busy right now and hope to travel sometime in the future.
But then a full-time job, spouse, and kids come along. So now it’s not just your schedule to work around, but all of theirs. The difficulty of finding extended time to go abroad is multiplied by your family size.
That’s why you should have urgency to travel now before it’s too late.
Will you regret starting your first job out of school in September so you can travel abroad for three months instead of June? No, because those will be memories of a lifetime. You’ll regret starting your job in June and putting off travel.
And when you’re 30, you’ll wish you took that international trip before grad school instead of going straight to grad school. You’ll think what was the rush to go straight to grad school?
Lastly, God forbid this ever happens, an early death is not out of the question. So it’d be a huge mistake to wait to travel until retirement and then never get there.
But Isn’t Traveling Dangerous?
That question depends on context. If you’re going to a country with a corrupt government, heavy terrorists, or a hotbed for drug trafficking cartel, then yes it’s dangerous. Think of Syria, North Korea, and Iraq.
But if you’re going to an established country, then it’s a different story.
So as long as you’re not reckless (stumbling home drunk by yourself at 3:00am) and don’t travel to high-risk areas, you’ll be as safe as you are in the States. Driving a car can be dangerous too, but you do it every single day.
Crimes like theft, assault, and murder happen in every country in the world. But you can help yourself avoid that by being vigilant of your surroundings. Be extra cautious if you travel alone.
For assurance, type in the country you’re thinking about traveling to in the travel.state.gov search to see if there are any travel warnings or alerts. I’ve found that beyond avoiding dangerous areas, research also helps put anxiety of the unknown to ease.
And my last argument is that life is too short to live in fear. I’d say it’s more dangerous to live an unfulfilled life full of regret than any of the risks that go with international travel.
You only live once, you know.
What If Your Bank Account Is Low?
In my experience, money is the number one deterrent for young adults who want to go abroad.
But it shouldn’t be, and here’s why.
Not having a bunch of money to throw around doesn’t mean you’re unable to go.
It just means you might need to get creative and think more outside the box compared to the next person. Or sometimes you get lucky and the area is significantly cheaper than home.
For example, I lived more frugal in Fiji for six weeks than any six-week span in the United States. Cheap food plus free activities to the waterfall or park protected my bank account.
In terms of travel hacking to save money, my friend Kyle Gundrum laid out a few tips he used to travel across Europe:
- Search Google Flights, Momondo, and Skyscanner for cheap flights
- Stay in a hostel for $15-25/night (and have a better experience than a hotel)
- Eat local food instead of fancy tourist diners
- Use Groupons to find cheap things to do there
- Be flexible on your departure dates from city to city
Being on a tight budget will also help you get a truer experience. You’ll be forced to eat on the street and speak with the locals instead of the tourist restaurant. You’ll need to ask about free or cheap activities from people in the community.
Your financial limitations will provide a far more unique and intimate experience, unlike the millionaire who never leaves his 5-star hotel.
So before you wrongly assume that you can’t afford to travel, look into the cost first. It’s often cheaper to spend an extended time in another country than the US.
And if you truly only have enough money for the plane ride, consider working while abroad. Being an English tutor or doing a service job will give you countless stories and add a special touch to your adventure.
Although you’ve read my pitch why you should travel while you’re young, you may still have concerns.
If this is you and travel freaks you out for some reason, then take smaller steps and do a few road trips to somewhere else in the States. Use extended weekends to visit new cities.
I know for a fact that positive action builds momentum. So by traveling around the US, you’ll build confidence and experience to make the leap to spend two months in South America, Europe, or Africa.
And you don’t need to know every exact detail figured out before you go. Part of the adventure of traveling abroad is being forced out of your comfort zone to navigate the unknown. Embrace it.
For your happiness and growth, I hope you find time to travel abroad. There’s nothing else like it!
As a send off, let these quotes settle in your mind and heart:
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury