There is no denying the world is smaller than ever. If you're not throwing a coin in Rome's Trevi Fountain or riding a pimped-out tuk-tuk through the crazy streets of Bangkok, chances are, you know someone who is. We are an adventurous generation of digital nomads, backpackers and unsatisfied employees who are quick to swap out suits and ties for a passport and a Canon.
Social media has a way of ruthlessly taunting us with photos of far-off lands. Damn that Instagram post with the sun-kissed, bikini-clad girl in the Maldives. To add insult to injury, she's drinking a cocktail on a beach that makes the exotic screensaver at work look like a dump.
For a moment, the image of a coconut falling out of that picture-perfect palm tree and landing directly on her head is a happy one. But after bitterness subsides, a single thought emerges: "If she did it, why can't I?"
So whether you've just graduated from college or are suffering through monotonous days at the office, here are five things you should consider when mulling over the decision to travel the world or take a 9-to-5:
1. Settling Down
Are you ready to throw in the towel and settle down? If you're the kind of person who believes nothing in life would make you happier than a husband, a house, a white picket fence and 2.5 children, then a 9-to-5 with a steady income is probably the option for you. If this scenario sounds like hell on earth, ignore your parents' practical pleas and start looking at your options.
Think funding world travel sounds impossible and daunting? Teaching English is a great starting point. There are programs offered all around the world that facilitate teaching English abroad. Alternatively, depending on your level of spontaneity, you can head to a country and sort out teaching gigs from there. It's an extremely valuable skill that is in high demand worldwide.
2. Missing Out
FOMO is real, and it must be dealt with prior to leaving on your own personal world tour. Are you OK with missing out? Don't get me wrong; traveling the world is hands down one of the best things a person can do with his or her life, but just know that it's not all rainbows and butterflies.
The day will come when you're 4,000 miles away, and your best friend will Skype, wiggling a shiny diamond on her finger. You'll be in the middle of the jungle, and you'll get a text that so-and-so fell down the stairs and broke a hip.
Life goes on with or without you, and you need to be prepared to miss important events and handle your guilt accordingly. Traveling the world is, in some respects, a sacrifice. You just need to decide if it's worth it or not.
Fact: Traveling is more addictive than a pizza with bacon on top. If you make the decision to travel, it is important that you understand something: Your life will never be the same. Once you get a taste of it, there's no going back.
Going home and picking up a 9-to-5 after bicycling through the rice fields of Bali with wind in your hair and incense up your nostrils just isn't going to happen. This drug called traveling is going to screw you up. Each new experience you tuck under your belt will add to this new quality you've suddenly developed: insatiability.
To be insatiable is to never have enough; you will never be satisfied. You will want more stamps in your passport, more memories, more stories, more everything. Forget about sitting at a desk for eight hours after you've seen the world, in any or all of its magnificent capacities.
A funny thing about traveling is, a direct result of doing so is meeting people from all around the world. When traveling, the opportunities are endless. More often than not, you'll create a network as you make your way around. You'll connect with people who will enhance your life in unexpected ways.
Maybe it's nothing more than a couch to sleep on when you visit Paris. Maybe it's your future significant other. Maybe it's the job opportunity of a lifetime (a remote, flexible-schedule job of course). The people you meet while traveling are more valuable than the names on the business cards you collect, I assure you.
No one likes "what ifs." Are you prepared to spend the rest of your life wondering? Wondering what it feels like to ride a motorcycle through the mountains of Vietnam, to see a show at the Sydney Opera House or to stand on the stage of the Colosseum? It's never too late to make the decision to travel, and the chance to do so has never been so attainable.
A life abroad doesn't have to be a dream, and it should never make it to the list of things you wish you'd done. Go take the photos that will end up as someone else's screensaver. Explore this beautiful world, and don't look back.