You’ve heard me talk about my post-university woes before and that big question that seems to loom after graduation: what’s next?! Well, today’s post by Andrew Tipp talks about how travel might just be the answer to that question and he makes a pretty good case!
Let’s flash forward to spring 2014. University is over. School’s out for the summer. And maybe, forever. Basically, you need a plan. A project. You need to decide what you’re doing for the next chapter of your life.
This is pretty scary. In fact, it’s terrifying.
You might already be there. Maybe this happened to you earlier this year, and you still haven’t got it figured out. But that’s ok. Don’t panic. I’ve got the answer. What is it?
Yep, backpacking is the way to go. How come? Glad you asked. Here are seven problems that travelling post-graduation solves…
1. Having no career path
Nailing a 2:1 in Philosophy is nothing to sniff at. But let’s face it, knowing your Schrodinger from your Schopenhauer doesn’t qualify you for much apart from a life of academia and crushing high-brow pub quizzes.
Usually the high of your graduation is followed by the low of not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing with the rest of your life. Parents often refer to this as “Your Plan”.
So you have no plan. But travelling solves that problem by giving you time to think. To reflect. After years of studying, it’s time to get into a new headspace, and think about what you might actually like to do with yourself.
2. Not having enough life experience
‘Life experience’ is a funny phrase. It basically means experiencing challenges and being out of your comfort zone. And it can be really helpful when it comes to starting a career. Employers love it.
If you’ve lived a tough or colourful life, or you live to put yourself forward for new opportunities, you may already have plenty of this life experience stuff. But if you’ve lived a pretty normal middle-class, suburban family life, you need to get out into the world and experience some culture shock, tough challenges and self-reliance.
How? Backpacking long-distance works. As does volunteering. In fact, if you want to build a career as a teacher, carer or sports coach, volunteering abroad with an organisation like Original Volunteers can help you develop practical skills and on-the-job training.
3. Missing out on taking a gap year
Admit it: deep down you’ve always wondered if you missed out on not taking a year out when you were 18 to travel through Asia or Africa or Australia or anywhere else those gappers went.
Well, now’s your chance to travel the world, care and commitment free. Trust me, this gets progressively more difficult the older you get, so do it now!
And if you already took a gap year at 18, why not do another one?
4. Coping with the awkward post-uni relationship
Dating someone who lives 400 miles away made sense when you both lived at the same house at uni. But once you graduate, that relationship is going to creak and groan and eventually fall apart altogether.
Maybe you genuinely, deeply love each other. If so, good for you. But for most people, that fun fling with a housemate will turn into a costly, and ultimately doomed, long-term relationship.
Instead of spending all that time and money on a guy or gal you’ll probably dump anyway, why not save up and spend it on a backpacking adventure? If your uni relationship is meant to be you’ll end up together anyway.
5. Dealing with a super huge overdraft
Being a student leaves you broke. True story. By the time you graduate your bank balance will look more like a reason to fake your own death than to celebrate. But this is hitting rock bottom. It gets better. You can climb back up. Like when Batman escapes from that weird prison in The Dark Knight Rises.
Here’s what you do: Get a job. Any job. Maybe more than one job. And work your ass off. To start with, this sucks. Like, a lot. But gradually, the scary minus number on your bank balance goes down. Then you start saving money. If you’re living at home and online and have no life, you can save lots.
And that’s when you start planning your big travel adventure. Planning to go travelling makes the impossible job of paying off your overdraft seem suddenly manageable.
6. Thinking about student loan repayments
Once you get a ‘real’ job, you’re going to be paying back your student loan forever. Maybe literally for the rest of your life. Drag, right?
Why not delay even thinking about it by getting a ‘non-real’ job for a while, then travelling – and not having a job at all?
It’s a protest. Of sorts. Anyway, it means you don’t have to pay back anything. For now.
7. Having to live with your parents
Okay, so your parents are actually fine, but living with them post-21 is not the same as being a kid – or even a teenager. The change of pace from sharing with up to half a dozen students at uni to living with your folks again can make your head spin.
Seriously, it can be weird. Like you’ve been ostracised from youthful society and forced to live with some random middle-aged couple. Even if you actually like your parents this can be tough. Saving up to go travelling gives you drive and focus. You can deal with the parents. But without a project to focus on, drifting without Your Plan can be a nightmare.
You can avoid all that by sticking to your guns and heading off on an adventure. You might have to deal with living at home all over again when you get back, but, hey, that’s six months or a year away…
About the author: Andrew Tipp is a writer, blogger and editor working in digital publishing. He took his first gap year at 18, and has now spent more than a year backpacking and volunteering around the world. He’s previously worked as a web travel editor, and is a big fan of Caipirinhas, roast guinea pig and miso soup.