Planning your vagabonding future as a teenager

A young Vagabonding reader named Austin recently emailed me to say this:

I’m entirely new to the idea of vagabonding. I’m 17 years old, and I plan to hit the road around age 19. Right now I’m on the fence about what I plan to do when I get older and I don’t want to get some major in college when I don’t even know if I love doing that, so I want to travel and see the world, and spend time thinking.

How expensive it is to go around Europe? I’ve heard prices are about the same to travel there as it is in America. If there’s a way to get around there cheaply, that would probably be my first adventure, or Canada.

I’m also wondering if there’s any very important advice that is especially true for very young vagabonders to listen to, such as myself? I don’t expect to do it right the first time, but I’d like to avoid some really painful mishaps. I also wonder how possible it is for someone to move around a lot and find enough work to sustain their travels. I’m a Windows computer tech so I’m inclined toward doing that sort of thing, although I am not physically unable to do something like landscaping or similar.

This is what I told Austin:

It sounds like you have some great travel plans in the works. 19 is a good age to travel, and you’ll find plenty of people your age on the road. Moreover, an extended experience of travel will help see amazing new things and possibly focus your thoughts on what you might want to do in life. Just keep your eyes open to the possibilities as you travel!

Europe is a great destination, and a common starting point for American vagabonders (I happen to be traveling in Sweden at the moment, and it’s great). It’s easy to travel here, and there are plenty of fascinating cultures packed into a small place. The biggest disadvantage, as I see it, is that Europe can be very expensive. You’ll get more mileage for your money in other parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia or India or Central America. If you do travel in Europe, I’d recommend cutting down on lodging expenses by signing up with a hospitality service such as Servas, Hospitality Club, or CouchSurfing. You can find all of those services online, and staying with foreign hosts will be much cheaper and more interesting than finding hostels all the time. Hostels can be fun, of course, but it would be wise to find free hospitality accommodation as well.

Canada and the USA are also good places to start vagabonding. I did my first vagabonding stint in North America in 1994, and had a great time. The key here is to travel in a vehicle you can sleep in, or find lots of crash pads along the way.

As for work on the road, you might be able to do some computer tech work as you travel, but only if you market yourself in advance. My advice to travelers is generally to do your work before you leave, save your money, and travel on that “nest egg”. That way, even if you want to work on the road from time to time, you can be free of it financially (since road jobs rarely pay well). Check out Transitions Abroad magazine for ideas about work and volunteering opportunities overseas.

Final advice, about avoiding painful mistakes: I’d just stay informed. Read your guidebooks for safety and cultural information, and learn as you go. You will invariably make mistakes from time to time (I still do, and I’ve been at it for years!), but it will get easier as you go.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | August 24, 2006
Category: Vagabonding Advice

One Response to “Planning your vagabonding future as a teenager”

  1. elektra Says: name is elektra .i am 15 years old and i study in a collegue.firstly i didnt want to go there because i thought that i would feel lonely but this is a big mistake because the college is like high has also funny things and it helps you ro learn a ot of new the way i am from alabnia. bye.