Is it OK to go vagabonding right out of high school?

Over at the Vagabonding Q&A, Andy S. from Woodbury, New Jersey writes:

“I am currently 18 years old and have recently graduated from high school. Having done a bit if traveling with my parents during my high school career and loved every minute of it, I’ve had the ‘bug’ for quite a while. I’m wondering if it is common, or acceptable, for a person of my age to head off for an extended trip? Or would you suggest that if college is in my future, which is most definitely is, to pursue college first and then head off?”

This is what I told him:

“You ask a great question. Should one go vagabonding right out of high school, or wait until college is finished? To be sure, the vagabonding road is full of intelligent, energetic, and capable young people traveling right out of high school. Many of them are from Europe or Australia (where long-term travel is more of a cultural norm), but young Americans have been prolific overseas travelers since the days of the 1960’s Hippie Trail, and before.

“Personally, I chose to go to college before I traveled. For me this was a good choice because I wasn’t quite psychically ready for it at age 18, and four years of college gave me some extra maturity and confidence. It helped that, with the help of scholarships, I was able to get through college without much debt (which, admittedly, is not possible for everyone), and hence I was able to go vagabonding within a year of graduation (after first working as a landscaper and saving money for eight months). In this way, college was a good prelude to my later journeys.

“At the same rate, however, some people are ready to travel right out of high school. They can find decent jobs to fund their travels, and avoid the financial debts that college might incur. And, even more importantly, some people simple aren’t ready for college right out of high school, and travel can be a good way to add focus to one’s life. Whereas an 18-year-old freshman might have no idea what he wants to study, a student who has a year or two of travel under his belt will start college with a lot more passion and focus for what interests him.

“In a way, travel (if done mindfully) is a complete education unto itself, and can be implemented either before or after formal university studies. In the end, it’s a matter of personal inspiration, preparation, and attitude. If you think you can travel the world right out of high school, you probably can!”

Posted by | Comments Off on Is it OK to go vagabonding right out of high school?  | September 10, 2004
Category: Vagabonding Advice

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