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Should You Settle Down Or Travel The World?

Should You Settle Down Or Travel The World?


Settle down or travel? I have posed this question to myself many times over the past few years, and even more recently, every day.

I have been travelling full-time for three years now. Every six months, I’ve packed up my possessions and moved to a different city or country. As I type this from my extremely squeaky bunk bed in a room I share with another person, I concur that settling down is definitely the more comfortable option. One house, one city, one bed- life is simpler, it’s easier, less stressful. Or is it?

Is easier always better?

I look at these twenties settlers and envy that they are so easily satisfied; it can be, at times, exhausting always wanting to see, feel and experience more.

Travelling is excessively romanticised; from the glossies that boast pristine Photoshopped beaches void of tourists to that friend’s Instagram post looking far off into the distance in a European city. The challenges of travel aren’t often taken into account.

Travelling has a lot of challenges. There is the inevitable weight gain after months of gorging on junk food because it’s easier and cheaper.

No one is around to take care of you or drive you to the doctor when you’re sick.

There is the responsibility to remedy any unfortunate situation you find yourself in all by yourself.

And then there’s travelling solo; the times when loneliness envelops you and you wish that you had someone there to squeeze your hand with words of reassurance after a day that didn’t quite work out how you wanted it to.

The sacrifices for travel

I do sometimes worry that I’ll miss out on some amazing guy because I’ve decided to travel, and if the day comes I’m in a wedding dress I won’t have taut mid-twenties skin.

I liken travel to yoga. While Sally from Instagram makes anantasana pose look like a Sunday sleep in, the reality is it would have taken Sally months of agonising stretching to flex her body in that way.

In other words, don’t be fooled into thinking travelling the world is going to be pretty. Travel will test your character like never before. It will open you up and it will toughen you up.

I’m of the opinion you learn the most about yourself when you are faced with the toughest challenges. You do not grow by standing still. While I sometimes envy those that are settled, I also feel sad for them. They haven’t climbed to the top of a waterfall in Hawaii. They didn’t witness the sadness in the eyes of American democrats when 2016 election results were announced- they haven’t met the amazing, beautiful people I have met.

This is why I am choosing to travel over settling down.

Read more: My favourite destinations for first time solo travel

New experiences trump comfort

My verdict is this: while you cannot travel the world at any time, you can always stay in one place at any chosen time.

While some may disagree with this, in my opinion it is far easier to travel the world with less commitments.

For now, I choose to travel, because I know this opportunity won’t come up all to often.

I know that one day, when I have one house, one city, and one bed, I will yearn for the days when I had very little responsibility. I will also know in my soul that any ‘what ifs’ I may have had would have been answered.

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Kevin Richardson

Monday 10th of December 2018

I went traveling when I was young in response to getting my heart broken. I decided to hike the west coast of Ireland as this was somewhere I'd always talked about going, but never did ... so it was a double "two finger" salute to the person I'd broken up with. (not moping around dwelling on the past + finally doing what I'd been saying I would).

I climbed a mountain while I was there ... sat on the summit and watched clouds below me and decided, "this is life ... this is really living ... sitting in an office wasn't really doing it for me ... so I choose this life instead".

When I got back to my native England ... I wanted to experience being above the clouds more often ... took up skydiving ... sold everything I owned and spent the next 7 years traveling and skydiving. Then decided I didn't want to stop traveling and skydiving ... just felt I didn't want to keep doing the same thing day in, day out ... so returned to England and got an office job for the next 10 years. Bought a place to live ... and thought ... jolly good ... I've done the traveling thing in my younger years and now I'm just going to grow old and settle down.

To my friends that settled down when they were younger, I used to say, "How can you talk of settling down ... you weren't fizzy to start with!!!!". I've watched most of my friends do the settling down thing, have families ... and through the medium of FB posts, kind of had moments of "what might life have been like if that was my choice ..." ... and at the same time ... "I wouldn't swap places for anything ... my life has been awesome".

About 5 years ago, I thought ... hmmm ... I've paid off 10 years of my mortgage ... and I've got as high as I can in my job ... I even got some qualifications that I never stuck around at school long enough to get ... and I thought .... what happened to my dreams of living in Japan, learning the language etc etc. So 4 years ago, I moved to Japan. I now live really happily teaching English in Japan and once every couple of months, travel somewhere new in Japan and practice landscape photography. I've actually been interviewed on TV in Kyoto about my photography ... he he he .. I'm big in Japan!!!

Anyway, recently I thought to myself ... okay ... I have a tenant paying my mortgage ... that's kind of like my pension ... when I retire, I'm not planning on moving back to England ... but instead I'll travel around Asia with my camera ... I'll have two income streams (stock image galleries / renting my apartment in the UK) ... and if I need extra money, I have teaching certificates.

I look at my friends in the UK with their family life ... and they always seem to be saying, "You're so lucky ... " or "I'm so jealous of the amazing places and sights you get to see" ... and I can understand where that's coming from ... I guess it all boils down to fate and how we deal with the cards we're dealt ... I wonder how life would have worked out if I'd never broken up with the girl of my dreams all those years ago ... never met anyone who made my heart bounce like that ... that's not to say I never will ... but travel has been more than a substitute ... so I can't complain.

I guess its not a case of better or worse life ... it's just different isn't it.

Yvette Morrissey

Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Our stories are quite similar, Kevin. I left New Zealand due to heartbreak, and ironically it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I still had some healing to do this year after being on the road for 2 years, so I hiked the length of Scotland (there's more about this on my blog).

You look as though you've lived an incredibly full life- maybe there will be room in it one day for someone special, and you can have the best of both :-)


Wednesday 1st of March 2017

My dream someday when my husband retires we will never be "home". Great post :)


Wednesday 1st of March 2017

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and the experience is so worth it. I'm definitely due for a trip soon!

xo, Pri

Dr. M

Wednesday 1st of March 2017

Traveling the world while you are young is definitely easier to do than once you start getting older. I've chosen to take another route and travel while being settled. It's not the best way to see the world but I get the stability of a home base with the options to build up my finances and pick 1 destination each year. If I could, I'd drop it all and travel in a heartbeat but sometimes we have to play the cards we're dealt.


Thursday 2nd of March 2017

It's great you are still doing it though- I bet you're having some incredible experiences :)


Wednesday 1st of March 2017

Isn't this the ultimate question?? I love your response and feel very similar. ;-)