Response to Graduate Traveler
I had a read of the "Is it good to travel young?" article and wanted to throw out a resounding yes to the writer,
but not to throw your career away.
I can relate quite a lot with the writer as I have had a very similar journey in some ways. This post will sound a little bit self-promoting but I am trying to accentuate the positives of the path I have chosen and believe would be wise to follow to some degree.
I graduated from university back in 2004 and was lucky enough to land a graduate job with the largest financial institution in Australia before I finished my studies. I went into wealth management and by the time I was 23 was in a senior sales role earning more money than my parents ever did.
It was a different time when I started in wealth management however, and it is impossible to tell how life would have turned out if I had received a similar phonecall to the graduate traveller. My first trip to Thailand ended in October 2007, around the time the GFC started to cost my clients serious money, and it hasn't really stopped but once you are established it costs a lot of money for them to get rid of you through severance pay. What I will say however is that the GFC has slashed my bonuses significantly and should the good times ever return, the case for working will become even stronger as pay packets swell again.
Work your arse off in those initial years to ensure that when the inevitable downturn does come again, you are not first against the wall. The great thing about finance is that in the right role you actually make the business money and getting rid of you makes them less profitable, not more. After the initial graduate role the bosses are normally tracking your revenue and expenses to make sure you are not a waste of money. This might sound intrusive but it actually protects you from losing your job as long as you are making the dough.
I'm still just 27 now but with a combination of saving up all of my holidays in the first 3 years of my career, and then waiting for my income to be sufficiently high, I think I have managed to have some fantastic travels I wouldn't have enjoyed otherwise. I'll always make it to the best attractions attending major sporting events or music festivals in the countries and staying in relative comfort. If sport is not your thing you still have lots of other amazing experiences to be able to indulge in while you visit.
To avoid hangovers from travel there is two important things to do. The first one is not to live completely for travel, ensure you have a good life at home by keeping fit and sociable, stick with your hobbies and interests (even if they divert money from your holidays account) as they keep life livable back at home, where I spend an average of 44/52 weeks per year at the moment.
The second important thing is to never stop planning, and try to enjoy the planning and research as much as the trip itself. Make sure you research where you will travel to, what activities you are going to want to do, who you will meet up with and where you can take great photos to remember the trip.
I have traveled to Thailand of course, as well as Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, UK, Netherlands and Hong Kong. I loved all of these places for different reasons and realistically there is no need for me to stop travelling as long as I continue to work and earn good income. On the radar in the near future is Thailand again, Vietnam, more of Indonesia, Eastern Europe and Brazil. I am already planning as far out as far as 2014 to avoid the travel hangover and looking forward to life to come.
I try to run with a diversification strategy splitting my income between living an interesting life here in Australia, saving for the future and travelling overseas at least 2 times each year. I'm not sure how long service leave and annual leave work in the UK but once you have the good job, you have the ability to travel with good money in your pocket and experience the best of whatever is on offer in each country. I probably set aside around A$10,000 for travel each year which ensures you have a smashing time wherever you find yourself. If you want to go on the cheap of course you still can but once your job pays well the time is the scarce commodity not the money.
The only issue is it is difficult to "immerse" yourself fully in a country from a 2-3 week fleeting visit. You might need to head back to a country a few times to really cover it and waste a lot of money on airfares. This is why you keep your eyes on what stick calls "the long game" and try to save a significant amount for your retirement which may come when you have 30-40 years of solid travel still left in you and a pool of assets that will fund you wherever you find yourself. If you do land a job at another Megacorp – this shouldn't be a problem!
Thailand especially seems to be a country that can wait and make no mistake the job offers in Singapore or Hong Kong will come. I've already had a tough to resist approach from a firm in Hong Kong, and I might just take it when the hangover and the beauties I am missing out on finally becomes too much to resist. An old business colleague of mine was the one looking who actually did find himself out of a job during the GFC, but with 15 years of hard work behind him he is now a senior manager with the dream job in HK, and the dream redundancy package from Australia in his pocket.
I always say that one should play the long game. Plan a long way ahead, especially if you are young…