The Five Ways that Adults Scare Young People Away from Travel

Somewhere, right now, a young person in their 20s really wants to go travelling. However, you can be certain that there is at least one adult in their life who is trying to talk them out of it (maybe more). There are so many things that adults say that scare young people away from going travelling – which are simply not true.

Keep in mind, many of these warnings and attitudes usually come from people who have no experience with long term travel. They don’t know what it is like, but they have a opinion anyway. It is important for young people to take advice with a pinch of salt from those who haven’t travelled and listen to those who have – they are more aware of what is true about travel and what is just a silly myth.

Wildlife Safari, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Wildlife Safari, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

So what are the five things that adults say to scare young people away from travel? 

1. “It’s Too Dangerous.”

According to many adults, the world is a dangerous place and when young people go abroad they are likely to get stabbed, robbed, raped and murdered as soon as they step out of their hotel.

However, this paranoia is not based in reality. Yes, there are some dangerous and war-torn places in the world – but they are likely not where most young people are going to be backpacking. No, they are going to be in safe places, filled with plenty of other travellers, where there are no more dangers than there are in their home town.

While it is true that there are pickpockets and scam artists, they are easy to avoid with a little bit of awareness, common sense and preparation. I would recommend that young travellers Google “Common Scams in _________” before they go somewhere so that they can get to know what to watch out for. It is important for travellers to be smart and stay aware of their surroundings. Bad things most often happen when travellers forget common sense, such as getting so drunk that they aren’t able to make it back to the hostel safely, wandering down dark unfamiliar streets alone and taking offers for rides from strangers. Basically, when travellers avoid doing the dangerous stupid things they wouldn’t do at home, they will likely be fine.

Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru

2. “It Will Harm Your Career.”

For some reason, many young people feel so pressured before entering the workforce that they think they shouldn’t take a year out to go travelling because it will harm their career. I personally think that this is absolute nonsense. If someone is going to be pursuing a career for the next 30 years or so, what does it matter if they start working on it immediately after they graduate, or a year later? Will it really make that much of a difference when they are 40 whether they have 18 years of experience or 19? No, it makes no difference at all.

I have heard from a lot of young people who are worried that taking a year out to travel will “look bad on their resume.” Trust me, it won’t. I would encourage young people to include their travels on their resume proudly, because it actually reflects well on them. Going travelling, especially on their own, shows that they are good at planning, able to manage money well, resourceful, willing to step outside of their comfort zone and open-minded. All of these traits are positives that employers are looking for. Also, the traveller will stand out from all of the other similar applications. When their travels come up in an interview, young people can talk confidently about what they learned and how the experience helped them grow as a person – there’s a good chance that the interviewer will be intrigued and impressed.

Nha Trang, Vietnam
Nha Trang, Vietnam

3. “It’s Self Indulgent.”

Okay, this one might be true. Going travelling might be “self indulgent”, but it’s in the very best way possible. Self indulgence, when it is in the form of self improvement, is not a bad thing. Most people don’t think of going to University as self indulgent, it is seen as investing time into learning and improving the mind. Travel is the same thing.

When young people go travelling, they often find that the experiences they have help them to learn about themselves and the world around them. These experiences will very likely be a catalyst for their own personal growth. This is very valuable and it has the potential to help them become a better friend, partner and family member to their loved ones. Also, long term travel can allow young people to really get in touch with their values and figure out what it is that they want to do with their life – a realisation that is priceless.

Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey

4. “It’s Expensive.” or if not, “It Will be Uncomfortable.”

One of the fears that adults place in the heads of young people is that travel will be a financial disaster and that going backpacking for six months or a year will leave them broke and miserable. When they hear about the travel plans, they will say, “but how can you afford that?” – putting doubt in the young traveller’s mind about whether or not it’s a good idea.

However, I know for a fact that travel doesn’t have to be expensive at all. One of the best ways for a traveller to ensure that they don’t end up broke after their trip is to work while they travel, earning money to supplement themselves while abroad. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most straightforward is to get a Working Holiday Visa – which allows anyone between the age of 18-30 (35 for some countries) to work in another country for 1-2 years in order to supplement their travels. Here’s a guide to which countries offer these visas.

Also, travelling doesn’t have to be as expensive as most people think and travellers can cut down their costs a lot. A traveller can Couchsurf with a friendly local host and stay somewhere for free, or could stay in a hostel and spend a lot less than they would in a hotel room. They can take the cheap local bus, pack a lunch, look for free things to do and enjoy the destination on a budget.

However, when the young traveller explains that they are going to do this, they are met with another reaction – identifying how uncomfortable this approach will be. “Oh, you don’t really want to have to sleep in a room full of strangers, do you?” This is because many people just don’t realise that hostels aren’t really that bad at all. Even if they are a little grotty, most travellers are happy to deal with a little bit of discomfort in order to see the big amazing world out there. Hostels also have their advantages, because they are a great place to meet other travellers and make friends.

Kayaking in Malaysian Borneo
Kayaking in Malaysian Borneo

5. “You Should Be Thinking About Your Future.”

This one tends to come up a lot more in North America, as there is a lot of pressure in this part of the world for young people to have their future all planned out. This might include getting on the property ladder, starting to save for retirement, getting married and all of those “ideal” life milestones. If someone in their 20s is spending their time vagabonding around the world, many people will perceive them as not thinking ahead to their future. They might even ask them when they are going to “settle down” and have the normal life they are expected to have.

But who’s to say that they are not thinking about their future? Perhaps they are, it’s just that their future doesn’t fit into the blueprint that has been laid out for them. Their future involves travel, exploration, adventure and not really knowing what is coming up around the next bend. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as they can trust their future self.

Because the idea of going travelling is unconventional, many people will not understand it. There are many myths and misconceptions that adults will perpetuate, which will often scare young people into deciding not to travel. The problem is, many of these myths are not based in reality and are expressed by those who don’t have experience with travel themselves. This is why I think it is important for young people to find role models who are living the type of life they dream of living – especially if it is an unconventional life of travel. Speaking to these experienced travellers will help young people with wanderlust to soothe their fears and understand the practical realities of long term travel – so that they can make it happen for themselves.

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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  1. The future is unwritten and those trying to retire now have planned for a future which is no more and many have to work longer than they thought without only a years notice.

    People have had their nations destroyed and have had to live in another and adopted another identity due to political circumstances beyond their control.

    In short work hard, travel and play hard! 🙂 Enjoy it all while you can for no one knows what and when things will change!

  2. We leave in a month and I’ve heard every single one of these. Just like at home, some stuff is dangerous, some stuff is uncomfortable, and some stuff is expensive. That’s life.

    My favorite is “It’s expensive” – That’s when I explain that my rent in Budapest is half what it was in Chicago, and not having a car payment/insurance adds a nice chunk of change to my pocket each month.

    1. Hey bob, I’m moving from ny to budapest myself in a few months. Do you speak Hungarian? Do you have a job lined up? My wife is Hungarian, but I can only speak about 3 sentences. I’m a bit worried I won’t be able to find work.

      Best of luck!

  3. This seems to be peculiar to American adults more than those in other countries. Israeli and European young people are globe-trotters! American kids, on the other hand, are insular stay-at-homes, afraid to go anywhere or try anything, and their parents aid and abet this by scaring and shaming them in these ways. Helicopter parenting at its finest!

  4. These are tough to read because it’s so true. Don’t see the world because of your resume, agh! What are we living for anyway!

    I think I heard all of these at first. Fortunately after a few years, people seem to “get it.” Nice read, cheers…

  5. Great post! I do find it strange how you talk about “adults” and “young people” though, when isn’t everyone in your story an adult? I have found plenty of people my own age who were against me travelling, so I wouldn’t say that it is aged based.

    The expensive one gets me the most too…. Groan. The number of times I have tried to explain that it really doesn’t need to be expensive!!

  6. A good middle ground would be to spend one year of university in a study-abroad program. This gives a young person who is already on the track towards a career the chance to see a part of the world outside their own borders while not derailing any plans for their education.

    I spent a year studying abroad in Thailand, and I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It’s true that you don’t have the complete freedom of movement and schedule that a traveler would, but as a student at a foreign university you can learn so much more about a particular language and culture than any tourist passing through would ever pickup.

  7. The 7 months I spent traveling in my 20’s were some of the best and most memorable experiences of my life. Being able to stay in so many lovely castles, villas and estate homes was only possible because they were all part of the hostel system. Don’t regret any moment, not even the drunken spanish artist that broke my glasses, not the blonde french truck driver that couldn’t keep his hands on the wheel, not the sailor that broke my heart, each was a valuable learning experience.

  8. It is really interesting read! When I was reading it, I was wondering about how much the attitude of people to these questions depends on the culture, on the country. There are countries where most of the people think that they were born in the best place, so traveling is just a diversion and they don’t consider it important, while there are other countries where people think that everywhere is better than there, and they relate traveling to finding one of these places in the world where it is better than at home. Probably none of these attitudes is ideal:) I am not sure if the age is a key factor in that, I have lots of people around me quite older who say that they would travel much more if they were young again, while many people around me who are my age think we are extraterrestrial beings that we traveled for a year and a half, and want more:) Anyway, really cool stuff you wrote!

  9. At the end of your life, what will you remember? Time spent in the office or spent seeing the world. Life in an adventure, live it! Great post & great advice!

  10. My partner and I were so worried about #2 when we first sold everything we owned and left the U.S. to travel in 2011. Interestingly enough it ended up being a great career choice for us in a roundabout way. With the extra free time we had while slowly traveling in South America we ended up starting our own company together. After becoming entrepreneurs we realized that working for ourselves (though tough) makes us happier than working as employees ever did!

  11. I was interested to see what these top five obstacles would turn out to be. They all resonate a sound of coming from someone who may enjoy the comforts of a well established routine and familiarity in their lives.
    The one that really caught my eye – ‘Most people don’t think of going to University as self indulgent . . . ‘
    There are people who collect diplomas and hang them up the same way that traveler’s have a wall covered with photos from the places they’ve been. How can one be seen above the other? A very good point.

  12. Let me tell you this, years ago I would have agreed completely with what you have written above, but after I have left the USA and travelled for well over thirty years all over America and throughout South East Asia, I completely find your comments scary as hell.
    If my children or grandchildren ever wanted to take off and roam around the world for excitement, I would not let them go unless, first I were with them and secondly, we had bodyguards with us.
    I have seen people die from being in the wrong culture. It takes many years for a Westerner to grasp the culture of Asia, for instance. Most places these days absolutely, hate Americans. I asked one young man, why was the persecution level so high against Americans and he responded, “Because they are rich.” It doesn’t stop there, in the Philippines there are many reverts. These are people who went to the Middle East to get jobs and they were convinced to join the Muslim religion. You cannot believe how this has all progressed. Now, they want to come to America and kill Americans. One step is to instigate Muslims in America to take down America. You think I’m nuts, just watch and see. There is an invisible/silent movement here and their job is to pull down the christian church and persecute its members, really I can’t get into this. They even hack to see what us foreigners are up to. Hopefully, they haven’t gotten into my account, yet. If they had, this whole message would have been deleted by now and I would be under further persecution. I could tell you stories that would make your hair stand straight up. My advice to you is do not tell young kids to go traipsing around the world. Even if they know the culture, they should not go there. They could be destroyed for life and so could their families. I have seen it already. Most people will only know the culture if they have been born there, an outsider may take years to truly know what the score is. I know the score in the Philippines and it is a horrible place. It should be wiped off the map. I lost everything here, even my family and I have seen the same thing happen to many other foreigners, so take my advice and never, never, never come here.

  13. I assume your objective is to make money by promoting Global Goose Travel. I can understand that, however you have not walked in my shoes and you have no right to judge me. There is no craziness or paranoia here. These are the real facts. I pray that you walk in my shoes someday and then you will know for yourself what I am saying. When I came here I was married and still am, married into an elite ruling family. I was treated like a princess. I had bodyguards, drivers and many maids. All my needs were taken care of. I loved this country very much and its people, but times have changed and things are not the same anymore. What can I say, you would not understand and you would only judge me wrongly. It’s a perfect universe,as you judge me you will be judged.

  14. It is suggested to properly guide young people while they are on the move. Necessary safety measures and rules to follow all saves them a lot in touring. Adults instead of scaring them, encourage with good travel tips. We don’t know what happens next. It is the time to enjoy and see all around the world.

  15. Well said, Kelly! This article is exactly what I’m trying to help those in their mid-20s to 30s overcome. Fear instilled in them by culture, parents, and those older than ourselves. “Progress” is what those in the United States seem to be obsessed with. Unfortunately, most have such a limited definition of what making progress really is. Connecting with the world, building relationships, learning new skills, learning languages (which expands our creativity), and becoming more resourceful are just a few of many ways one is making progress through being abroad for an extended period of time.

    I’m happy to see you have received so many shares on Facebook. This is a great topic worthy of spreading. I’ll be doing the same.

    All the best. Looking forward to more of your writing.

  16. Great article! I hate when people mention these things. Many adults also don’t realize that times have changed since they were in their 20’s. There is such a set ‘backpacker’ route in the places most first time travelers are most likely to go, which makes them much less dangerous than if you were to go alone 20 years ago. More companies value international experience, more careers are becoming location independent.

  17. Don’t put your life on hold for later. In addition, now you can work, study and master new professions online, anywhere in the world. Do what brings you pleasure, and you can always delegate routine study tasks to services like this one

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