This week, I saw an article on the telegraph website which really struck a chord with me. Here’s the gist of it:
Young travellers’ spending soars. The world may have been mired in recession for five years but nobody appears to have told younger travellers who are keener than ever to get out there and explore.
The article focuses on a study which was undertaken by the World Youth Student and Educational Travel confederation (WYSE) in which more than 34,000 people from 137 countries were surveyed on their travelling habits over the last 5 years. The findings are quite interesting. Apparently, young travellers last year (2012) spent on average £2,500 on trips abroad – 40 per cent more than they did in 2007. It seems that no one has told young travellers (and by that we’re talking those 18-35) that there’s a recession on. Or if they have heard, they’re ignoring it spectacularly.
I fall into this category and apart from probably pushing up the average spending of my age group almost single handedly, I’m sure my behaviour follows this trend too. In 2009 I quit my job and went on a spectacular round the world trip, and I can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I did worry about my job prospects when I returned home, especially as everyone around me was warning against it. ‘There’s a recession on, Hayley. Good luck finding a job when you get back.’
Luckily I went with my gut and I learnt some things that year that I never would have if staying at home. My confidence grew and since then I’ve been using every spare weekend, bank holiday, lieu day and holiday allowance day on travelling, whether that’s in the UK or abroad. I’ve spent tens of thousands I’m sure. But I’ve now travelled to 47 countries, had some life-changing moments and I’m now starting a blog to try and document everything, and keep all my travelling memories in one place.
I’m now coming up to my 28th birthday, and with everyone around me seemingly getting married or popping out kids, I feel I need to ask myself… when will it stop? Should I cut back on the travelling and seriously start to save for a future, or keep going with what I love and hope that everything will work out in the end?
Living in London, paying rent and travelling all the time means I struggle with saving any money at all. At the rate I’m saving now I would be able to save an average £20,000 deposit in approximately 8.3 years. And by then, houses will no doubt have doubled in price so I’ll need to keep saving to keep up with the market. Ouch. If I cut back my travel spending I could probably halve the amount of time it takes to save and could be living in my very own place by the spritely age of 32. Here lies the problem. Should I?
Seeing different places, meeting new people and really experiencing the world is what I live for, not bricks and mortar. But I’m not 21 anymore and I can’t rent a one bedroom flat in London all my life. So do I need to choose between doing what I want to do and what I feel I should? Surely that’s what real adults do, so why is it so hard to put into action?
The problem is, I don’t really see myself as an adult. In my head I’m still a teenager – I still get nervous I’m going to be asked for ID when buying a bottle of wine and instead of the elation I felt if I dodged this bullet when I was 17, now I feel secretly gutted that they never do ask. My face looks older now, I suffer from 2 day hangovers and since running the London Marathon last year, my knees have never been the same. Time to face facts. In a couple of years I’ll be 30 and there’ll be no more dreams of randomly running off to Australia to work as a cabbage picker. I’ll be too old to apply for a working visa.
I will be so old that an entire country has deemed me incapable of picking cabbages.
Just writing this makes me just want to take the small amount I’ve saved over the last year and buy a round the world ticket before it’s too late! I am getting anxious and twitchy and my attention keeps getting diverted to the STA Travel website and their range of round the world tickets. Then I get a reality check as I realise I am too old to qualify for their youth fare (under 26s only!).
You know what? Sod it. I’m not ready to grow up. Who am I kidding? I’m not going to buy a 3 bed semi detached house in Sussex and start squeezing out small people anytime soon. The world is too big and too damn exciting. And I’m so glad this study by the WYSE confirms that I’m not the only one ignoring the pressure to settle down and conform. Hooray for us! I’m not going to stop everything and go off travelling right now, but I’m certainly not going to curb my travel wanderlust.
Bring on the next adventure.
What do you think? Do you think travelling is more important than securing your financial future? Let me know in the comments box below.
UPDATE NOV 2014: I have made my decision…. See what I decided here