With exams over and students taking a break from school, I’m also taking a break from writing about college and career success. This is a different type of piece, and it’s about the beautiful west coast.
For those who don’t know, I graduated from Miami University in Oxford, OH and have only lived in Cincinnati before and after college. I’m a wild nomad, tell me about it!
But, ever since I took a couple of trips to Los Angeles—the heart of the west coast—I’ve seen the light and it’s the west coast lifestyle. Life is simply better out there, I’m certain. And I actually became so hooked with California that I already planned my retirement home in Santa Barbara, CA (with Oprah and her Santa Barbara mansion as my neighbor so she can come over to chill while we eat barbecue).
Alright, enough Oprah talk. Let’s get serious to unpack why I’m convinced the golden coast is the best coast.
West Coast Advantages
You can probably argue against other points on this list, but you can’t say with a straight face that the west coast doesn’t have the most amazing weather. Sunshine, clear skies, and ocean breezes are almost enough for me to pack my bags, without considering the rest of this list. And weather definitely affects people’s moods, so come out to sunny California and live a happier life is my thought. You can forget about the east coast and midwest winters.
2. Better looking people
More than simply feel better, you and the people around you will also look better with sun kissed skin from the west coast sunshine. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by good looking tan people? God knows that I could use some sun at this point in December in Ohio. And, probably since it’s almost always beach season, people out west tend to be more fit and in shape.
I’m literally obsessed with the ocean. Maybe it’s the beauty, the mystery, my shark friends, the motion of the water, the power, or the great size that I can’t get enough of, but the ocean is my favorite place above all. If you want to ruin my moment, you would argue that the eastern and southern United States have oceans on their coast too, but these oceans aren’t usually as accessible and warm as out west.
4. Less allergies
Allergies that cause sneezing, coughing, and colds happen way too often outside the west coast. I think it’s because there is more pollen and mold in the air in the midwest, south, and east coast, but I’m no doctor. Either way, I have anecdotal evidence allergies are less bad in the west.
If you live in California and don’t want to vacation nearby, then gorgeous Hawaii is only a 4.5 hour flight away. Also, places like Cabos, Mexico and skiing in Colorado is a short trip from the west coast. And even Australia, which is still far away, is much closer than the eastern part of the US. The vacation options are endless!
6. West coast lifestyle
Surfing on the beach, skiing in the mountains, and hiking in the forest are all within a driving distance and a part of the west coast lifestyle. Plus all the other different water sports and activities on the ocean or lakes are ridiculous. You do not get those same opportunities in other parts of the country.
7. Relaxed people
Many people who live in places like Los Angeles or San Francisco specifically choose to live out there and do not settle on their location when looking for work. Because of this, they enjoy life better and are more relaxed. However, people in other regions often choose the job first and then settle on the location, leaving them feeling stuck and bitter about where they live.
8. Abundant wineries
You don’t have to search far for wineries as they fill up California and even Washington. There’s a reason Napa Valley is a top tourist attraction. I mean who wouldn’t enjoy a nice glass of wine with an unbelievable view? I want it now and I know you do, too.
9. Sports teams
California is home to five MLB teams (Angels, Dodgers, Athletics, Padres, and Giants), four NBA teams (Clippers, Lakers, Kings, and Warriors) three NFL teams (49ers, Raiders, and Chargers), and three NHL teams (Kings, Ducks, and Sharks). The San Francisco Giants are one of the best franchises in baseball and basically win it all every other year. The Lakers are the most storied franchise in basketball, while Steph Curry and the Warriors are the best NBA team right now. Needless to say, there’s always a big sports event to attend on the west coast.
10. Startup activity
Other than maybe New York City, the entrepreneurial energy around Silicon Valley and the west coast is second to none. You never know when the next Facebook, Google, or Amazon will pop up, and odds are it comes out west. Whether you want to be an entrepreneur, work for a startup, or invest in one, California is most likely your spot.
What Do You Think?
I had to make some tough decisions and leave off some awesome west coast advantages to get to a list of 10. But, obviously I didn’t write a list and highlight the negatives of the west coast either, which off the top of my head include taxes, cost of living, distance from family, and traffic.
However, even if I did account for the top 10 negatives of living out west, these disadvantages wouldn’t outweigh the advantages of the west coast lifestyle. There is absolutely no way!
And I know some of you will call me a hypocrite or a traitor for living in Cincinnati right now and not living out west. If I live in Ohio for the rest of my life, then you would be right in calling me whatever you want.
But, you should keep in mind that big moves take time. For now, I’ll listen to “Hotel California” by the Eagles.
Readers, what do you think? Have you experienced the west coast lifestyle? Where is your favorite place to live or retire, and why? What other benefits or negatives come from living on the west coast that I didn’t mention?
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