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Advice to College Grads From a World Traveler

May 28, 2012

travel the world - get your passport and go!


It's that time of year again, where I see many friends on Facebook graduating from college or their kids graduating and some dreaming about traveling. It is an exciting time full of hope and expectations ( although scarier in this economy where college education is in melt down).  I get emails from college graduates planning backpacking trips around the world (or road tripping Europe)  asking for advice about travel. Quite sweet and I am especially happy that we give young women who love to travel hope for the future of traveling with kids.

You might have seen the great advice from Billionaires for new graduates on Forbes and mine surely can not beat the enthusiastic and wise commencement addresses of Oprah or Steve Jobs.

"Remembering that you are gong to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

But, I thought I'd add my two cents. As a mother of an 11 year old who just took extensive exams at her Chinese high school in Asia, a well traveled, multi-career woman who just turned 60, some one who has dealt with a travel health issue for 2 years and one that just lost her Father and a dear friend, I've been thinking a lot about what I would and do advise my own child for her future. Hope it can be helpful to you or someone you know!

Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic and World Travel for the global economy



MY BEST ADVICE FOR A COLLEGE GRADUATE - 13 KEYS



TRAVEL

Hmm, this is a bit of a no brain-er coming from a family that has been traveling the world for the last 6 years ( 44 countries on 5 continents on $23/day per person), but seriously, travel enriches you like nothing else and there is no better time to do it.

No money? Traveling is actually MUCH cheaper than most think, so if there is a will there is ALWAYS a way. Start saving wisely, live under your means, make travel a priority, start wth little adventures if you've never done it and need to build courage, check out wonderful free options like couch surfing ( like we did in Bora Bora) or volunteer like WWOOFing.

By 23 I'd already taken a 6 month camping trip across the USA with a partner, gone to London, Amsterdam and Paris by myself plus Rio with a girlfriend on a very low budget. They set the tone of my life to go for freedom and adventure.

Teaching English is a very easy way to actually get paid while exploring a whole new world like China, Thailand, Korea plus an opportunity to learn a new language at the same time and save money for more travel.

I  like the Irish way of doing a GAP year at 15, but it is never too late to travel and wise countries support GAP years and travel. Don't waste your precious travel time and money just partying, but connect with locals, learn a language, expand your mind and credentials for the global market.



FOLLOW YOUR BLISS - DO WORK YOU LOVE

Be brave, follow your heart and shoot for the moon! Take those early years when you have the most energy and enthusiasm to go for the big dreams. Trust yourself and do the work required. Think out of the box, go after what you want, network and never be afraid to ask for help. Have passion and go after things like your life depends on it.

"To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth." Pearl S. Buck
 

DREAM BIG - TRUST YOURSELF -RAMP AND PREPARE - TAKE CALCULATED RISKS

It is actually easier to go for the BIG dreams than just settling for something practical because less people are willing to commit fully to such, so there is less competition. Trust your passions and eliminate all doubts and negative self talk.

Build a "ramp" to where you want to go. Keep your eye on the prize and work hard and smart. Be tenacious. Be prepared when opportunity knocks and make your own opportunities by taking calculated risks. Have a support plan as you ramp up and ideas for plan B,C,D,E etc. in case your first ideas don't work out as planned.


LIVE FRUGALLY AND MINIMALIST - AVOID DEBT


Avoid debt like the plague as it enslaves people. Cut up all or most of your credit cards and don't use them unless you pay the bills in FULL every month. You really DON"T need so much "stuff", it won't serve you or our planet, so THINK long and hard about every penny you spend. A Mininimalist life rocks, gives you more freedom and takes the addiction out of consumerism.

DON"T fall into the standard traps that Goodman explains so well in her quote. REMEMBER that all people who retire early ...avoid debt and live under their means.

"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it." Ellen Goodman

That doesn't mean you can't have that darling pair of shoes ( or whatever), it just means that you will have one great pair instead of 20, you might buy it second-hand but looks brand new, you will take care of it and use it for a long time to get your monies worth ( and maybe sell it on ebay or craigslist for more than you bought it for) etc...in other words, be a SMART consumer.

Read the classic Your Money or Your Life.



SAVE FOR RETIREMENT NOW

Start socking away EARLY! Make it a priority and I'd put your savings in "thinking- out-of-the-box " places like precious metals, off shore, other currencies, tangible assets etc and never in big banks with all their corruption and the problems with the dollar. Make it a habit to do this every week.

MAKE THE BULK OF YOUR MONEY BETWEEN 20 AND 35

These are the best years to make money when you have the most enthusiasm and energy. Go for it in a big way and sock it away. Stay focused on money and career. If you are doing something you love, you will enjoy this phase as you make your mark on the world.



RETIRE EARLY - AIM FOR 30 OR 35

If you put your focus on making, saving, investing money from twenty to thirty five, when you have your most energy and career drive,  then most people can retire by 35. You can still work and just semi-retire if you'd like ( as I did at 38) , but you will have the freedom to spend more time with family raising a child, more time to travel with a mate or family, ability to work at some avocations or volunteer things that interest you.

Read the Classic "Cashing in on the American Dream or How to Retire at 35" written by our friends who did exactly this over 25 years ago and still loving their lives.


HAVE KID/S LATE IN LIFE

There are many ways to " do family", but I prefer that my daughter waits until at least 35 to have a child because everything changes when you have a child. I don't really see the point of having a child or children if you don't have the time to spend with them and that is hard to do today wth two full-time working parents. I can't even tell you how fast the time goes once you have a child, so if you don't have family as the number one focus during those years, you will miss MUCH.

My experience is life has different phases and if you give your all to your work/career from 20 to 35, you are ready for a change at that point. You also have much more to give to your child based on all the experience and maturity that you have accrued along the way, not to mention a growing nest egg to give your family financial security which grants you peace of mind.

It is hard to do kid/s and a driven career at the same time, something has to give and neither gets the focus they need ( or one get's seriously neglected). Many women who do family first starting in their twenties, yearn for career success/validation in the second half of their life, but many careers need the drive of youth. Luckily, in today's world one can have both fulfilled fully,  if you do it in phases.





THINK ENTREPRENEUR AND 4HOUR WORKWEEK

If you can't find a job, make your own, develop entrepreneurial skills. Even if you have a job, you might consider building your own entrepreneurial work on the side to ramp up to greater freedom at some point. The internet and tech makes it easier than ever to live life on your own terms and work whenever and where ever you want today.

Musts for your reading list: ( And I am not just recommending them because we were case studies in both 4Hour Workweek and The Art of Non-Conformity. These guys know their stuff and walk their talk and give the best blueprint on how to do this)

4 - Hour Workweek

The $100 Startup:
Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

by Chris Guillebeau


DON'T WASTE TIME ONLINE - AVOID TIME SUCKS

As digital nomads who live a paperless life, we are very dependent on the web as most people are today for everything from schooling options for kidlets, to managing our investments to talking to my Mom and friends. It is a wonderful tool, but make sure YOU are using the tools wisely, instead of it using you. Too many today are addicted to thier smart phones and missing real life.

Today, being unplugged is the greatest luxury, so make sure you purposely spend as much time as you can  offline and enjoying the real world, being truly present in the now, sharing intimacy face to face. Be efficient and focused when online and it IS addictive and time suck, so monitor closely, so you don't go unconscious as your life slips by or you miss your child's growing years.



MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES A PRIORITY

You are what you eat, so be very thoughtful and aware what you put in your body. It seems like you have forever when you are 20, but you will be amazed how quickly life slips by. The healthier you eat when young not only keeps you healthier, it supports your future children and your quality of life when you get older. Think generations ahead,not just instant gratification. Make good choices.

TO THINE OWNSELF BE TRUE - DON'T FOLLOW THE CROWD

It has been said in many ways, but the more you do this, the better your life will be. Each of us are unique and have come here for a reason, listen to your heart.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

KNOW THAT THERE ARE NO LIMIITS AND ALL DREAMS BEGINS WITHIN -SO "IMAGE-IN"

"The only rules and limits are those we set for ourselves" - Tim Ferriss

Don't ever put limits on your life, if you can dream it, you can do it. Shoot high. Sure, sometimes you might fall short, sometimes it takes many more years than you ever expected, sometimes it looks a bit different than originally planned, but if you don't go for your dreams at all, then they are sure not to happen.

Spend time creating what you want INSIDE, as that is where it all begins. We are all far more powerful than we give ourselves credit for and I believe we are all co-creators with God. Spend time praying, meditating, visualizing, giving thanks, journaling, listening to your inner guidance, imaging-in what you want...every day.

Then be willing to do all the work required and every time you fall ( and you will as that is part of life) get up and keep going. He wins who endures to the end.

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Jesse

My best part on this tip post is this one "DON'T WASTE TIME ONLINE - AVOID TIME SUCKS". It's very timely since I bet most of the teens nowadays would rather stare down their Facebook than go out.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

It's true Jesse, so may not be a popular one with some folks, but I think it is important to advise our kids to monitor their time online.

CarolB

Wow - great information! Kind of wish I had thought of some of these during my initial "post-grad" years! Especially the travel part! But traveling with my kids now is quite rewarding too - I had them later in life too, doing the career track first. Thanks for such sage wisdom.

Micki@theBarefootNomad

This is fabulous advice, especially "Avoid debt like the plague as it enslaves people." This is advice that's easily glossed over (after all, most people think talking about money is boring), but it may be the most important piece of information in this post.

Being in debt takes away your freedom. When you're in debt, you won't have freedom to travel, to make career changes, freedom to move where you want. You're essentially exchanging your freedom in exchange for the "privilege" of paying interest on credit cards, cars, or the like.

Shayna @ Adventurous Soul

Wow - bookmarking this one so that I can come back and ponder it some more.

That Ellen Goodman quote is hard-hitting and RIGHT ON. How has that gotten to be the definition of "normal" (at least in the U.S.) - and are other countries following that trend?

I know that here in Brazil buying things on credit has been absolutely exploding in the past few years, and the media keeps saying "How wonderful that the middle class now has access to these high-ticket items!" - but on the flip side, the average household debt is also shooting up, and no one talks about the potential long-term effects on the culture...

I also agree 150% about avoiding online time sucks, and this is something I'm trying to cut down on myself.

Gabrielle

Great post Jeanne! I'm bookmarking it because I need to meditate on a few points...
Ps: we have another little boy!!!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks @carol so happy that you enjoyed it! Traveling with kids rocks for sure! ;)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

So true @Micki and probably more truer than ever today. That why I get quite saddened by how easy they make debt today and how so many college grads start life with the chain of debt.

We had mortgage debt when we owned a house, but I don't think I'd ever do that again. We never had debt over cars or education and don't plan to do that ever.

So important to pass this info onto our kids starting at a young age. Debt enslaves!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks a bunch Shayna! I'm glad we see eye to eye on this!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Wow...congrats @Gabrielle! How exciting! Glad you like it and I am happy all is well in your world!

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