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Wednesday, February 08, 2023
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The case for traveling in your twenties

I may be not much of a spiritual person, but one of the most profound experiences of my life was behind the wheel of a 1999 Toyota Highlander on the road from Madison to Florida for spring break. In a 24-hour period, I spent half that time behind the wheel, and the rest talking to my fellow passengers, bickering with other members of our collegiate caravan or attempting to get some uncomfortable sleep. We made the return trip about five days later, with similar distributions of fitful rest and bloodshot-eyed driving.

For under $250 a person (before food), and three cars, we managed to get fourteen of us across the country and into two separate condos for a week, fulfilling a journey down to the United States’ spring break capitol. To this day, that week was one of the greatest of my life, and has instilled me with a sense of wanderlust ever since.

Surely you’re aware of at least some of the generic, tired arguments and talking points for travel. While they might be as old as the salt of the Earth, they’re still highly true. Through travel, I’ve learned more about cultures near and far than I ever could have gleaned from a textbook. By traveling, I have exposed myself to just a sliver of the many varieties of beautiful and varied landscapes and sights on the Earth. In visiting locales that I couldn’t call my home, I learned to detach myself from a lot of the stressors that the rat race of life throws at you. However, there is a highly specific time frame for it that yields the most unique results, and reaps the most benefits of it.

Traveling in college (or immediately following it) is the greatest travel you will enjoy in your life.

As a child, your experience with visiting different parts of your state, country or even the world is vastly different from that of an adult. You don’t have the mental faculties or proper perspective to understand what it is like to pack a bag and travel hundreds of miles to your destination and learn about the culture, history or significance of most destinations. Your experience is limited to that which you can sense and perceive, and even that is often clouded with the poor memory, anxiety of being in an unfamiliar locale and other complaints common to children. When you travel as an “adult” (think salary, house, job, car, spouse, kids, early 30s and so on), your experience is plagued by responsibility; you’re stuck stressing to make sure everyone in the party is pleased, worrying over work and bills back home, saving up and other things you are perceived to be accountable for.

Whether you’ve just finished your bachelor’s or are taking your first steps of your undergraduate career, your budding adulthood is a rapidly shrinking window of opportunity to get the most bang for your buck for traveling. These are the days for you to be the weekend warrior you look back upon, the months you’ll tell your children (depending on their age) stories of. The greatest part about this type of experience is how little it takes to prepare in terms of resources, logistics and prior planning. Once you save up a little cash, there are dozens of websites, airlines and other travel companies that offer dirt cheap transportation. The rest is dependent on how far and how long you’re willing to abscond, and what company you’ll choose to take with you.

The more you explore and want to get out of Madison, the bigger and bolder you’ll want your escapades to be. Studying abroad and backpacking trips are an entirely separate beast that take it to eleven, that you especially won’t be able to do after you lay down your roots. Get outside and away while you can, and be afraid of the homebody, white picket fence life that is creeping up on you as you read this very article.

Sergey is a sophomore majoring in international studies and economics. Do you feel motivated to pack your bags and take off? Please send all comments and questions about travel to

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