5 Reasons to Quit Your Job and Travel Now!

Feeding the deers at Nara, Japan
Feeding the deers at Nara, Japan

Whenever an acquaintance of mine tells me about their plan to save money in order to travel around the world 10 years from now, I cannot help but feel bad about their mentality.

Why is that? Not only because it is possible to afford traveling around the world right now (have you taken note of my 7 tips to travel more?) but also because traveling will be so much different 10 years from now…and not in a good way. The time to travel is NOW.

If you don’t believe it, here’s 5 reasons why:

1. Mass tourism will end up polluting the world

The time to travel is NOW. Without making any judgements or trying to separate myself from the rest (after all, we are ALL visitors, travelers AND tourists), I have to admit that the carbon footprint we’re leaving is a very significant one.

Not only that, but, as the average purchasing power of the world is increasing and as people start to learn how to travel more for less (thanks to this site!), a bigger portion of the middle class will now be able to afford to travel anywhere in the world, encouraging airlines to create new routes in order to deal with the demand.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 50 daily flights from London to Siem Reap (check out my Alternative Guide to Siem Reap!) in the future! Trust me, the time to travel is NOW.

2. International relations might not be as good as they are now

The time to travel is NOW. Let’s admit it, as of 2012, the world was at the best stage of international relations in the complete history of humankind. Can you imagine the hassle that an American citizen had to endure in order to do some sight-seeing in Moscow during the Cold War? How about backpacking throughout China during the days of Mao’s revolution?

If getting visas for Asia is a headache now, can you imagine traveling within Europe before the days of the EU? The world changed for the better and today you can even visit North-Korea as long as you do so with an organized tour!

Sadly, the trend seems to be going backwards. As of 2014, international tensions between the West and the East rise at the same time that illegal immigration reaches a crucial point in human history, the most logical outcome is for countries to start protecting themselves against the rest of the world.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the United Kingdom started asking tourist visas to all non-EU countries once it realizes how their local economy has been affected by mass immigration.

Today, David Cameron is even trying to stop Romanians and Bulgarians (both EU members) from visiting and working in the UK! Trust me, the time to travel is NOW.

3. There might actually be nothing worth-seeing anymore

The time to travel is NOW. Without sounding pessimistic, let’s take a look at the facts: The Great Coral Reef is going to disappear by 2050, Venice is slowly sinking into the ocean, the Peruvian government is now limiting the number of daily visitors to Machu Picchu, some Mayan Pyramids can no longer be climbed.

The Taj Mahal is changing colors due to corrosion and acid rains, the stone city of Petra is dying due to erosion and who knows how many animals will become extinct in the following decades.

Yes, I understand the big contradiction. After all, mass tourism (of which we all take part) is one of the reasons why most of these world monuments are now threatened. And yet, the selfish idealist in me wants YOU to see them before they are closed-off for good or even worse, destroyed.

Yes, maybe stopping people from seeing them now is the best option. Maybe… but until that happens, I would love for all of my readers to experience the amazingly rich cultural heritage that humankind has left us before it’s too late. Trust me, the time to travel is NOW.

4. Tradition and folklore will soon become artificial

The time to travel is NOW. Once, I met a 70-year old traveler who complained about how “every Indian wears jeans and t-shirts now” and how back in the day everything was more authentic.

Of course, his comment was out of the line and borderline-racist. “I’m sorry that globalization and economic development is ruining your travel experience” I told him in a very snarky way. And yet, I began to reflect about his words.

In rural Mexico, it is still somewhat common to find Indigenous women wearing traditional clothing and men wearing a big nice sombrero as they ride their donkey to work. But this is slowly changing. Those Mexican cultural dances that you see at the theatre?

The performers are college-educated people who bear no link whatsoever to the folklore that the dance showcases. In a few years, the traditional dresses will be confined to touristy places while the people who originally wore them will walk the streets wearing jeans and t-shirts. Those hand-made Mexican souvenirs? They’ll be mass-produced in China (some of them already are)!!!

Trust me, the time to travel is NOW.

5. It might actually be cheaper to travel…but prices will increase once you reach your destination

The time to travel is NOW. Common sense says that in the future, the act of traveling will become cheaper since both the supply and demand will increase at the same time that technological advances (such as Virgin Galactic by Richard Branson) will reduce the time and costs of traveling from point A to point B.

In fact, the owner of Ryanair just announced his plans to offer 10 USD tickets from Europe to the US (seriously, Google it)! Saving money to travel in the future makes sense because you’ll spend less on airfare but…

The prices of hotels/hostels, food, ground transportation and almost everything else will increase and not only because of normal causes like inflation. As I said before, the purchasing power of developing countries is increasing and I have no doubt that in the future, they will be getting real close to the purchasing power of First-World countries.

Suddenly, your dream vacation in Thailand will be as expensive as if you had decided to vacation in Japan. Right now there is a big wealth disparity between developed and developing countries…but the gap is due to become smaller and smaller as time passes by. If you’re saving money now with the goal of traveling to non-expensive countries…you better think twice. Trust me, the time to travel is NOW.

Travel now or regret it later. Are you ready to take the leap today?

Feeding the deers at Nara, Japan
Feeding the deers at Nara, Japan

50 Comments

  • Great article and photos. And, the reason to travel NOW is we’re not promised tomorrow. Live life now!

  • Anytime is a good time to travel in my mind. The earlier you get out the better. I definitely agree with your point about the cost of things. They’re only going to go up. I was looking at prices for some places that I visited in 2008 and now 6 years later, everything has increased in costs. Shockingly so. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler. Don’t forget to include a link back to one of the hosts :)

    • When I visited Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I was shocked by how expensive lodging was (specially after reading travel articles dated from 2012). I cannot help but think how expensive it is right now was the World Soccer Cup and the Olympic Games come closer and closer.

  • In a way I agree, changes in the way countries and tourism develops, more restrictions and increased costs and mass marketing of tourist sites make’s more sense to see things while you can before changes create more restrictions or worse no more opportunities to visit. BTW, hope you can also join us and link up Mondays on Travel Photo Mondays, the link is up for the whole week.

    • The romantic in me wishes to have been born in the 17th century, I bet the Pyramids of Egypt were definitely calmer back then!

      PS. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Travel Photo Mondays, thanks for the tip, Noel!

  • This is a really excellent piece! I was helping a student with an assignment about the effects of globalization on Africa. The student’s biggest concern about globalization is the effect it has on culture (language, clothes, and food). I have those concerns as well, even just in the US accents are flattening and we’re increasingly shopping at the same stores. Yes, now is the time to travel!

    • Cultural homogenization surely has its pros and cons. Here in Mexico we’re experiencing the same as local languages such as Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) are becoming less common in favor of Spanish and English. Yes, the average Mexican has no practical use of Nahuatl and NEEDS to speak Spanish in order to have economical success and yet, a part of me feels sad to know that it will soon be a dead language.

  • Now is definitely the time since yesterday is no longer an option. :)

    I’m glad that access to certain areas is finally being limited, but that’s another discussion for another time.

  • Oh I don’t like the list at all, but that’s maybe because I’m afraid you might be right. I don’t want cultures and folklore to vanish, I don’t want sights to be polluted and I definitely don’t want to be responsible for a world in which nothing is worth seeing anymore.
    I do think that we are actually on the right track, an eco- and cultural friendly possibility of travelling. We more and more understand that mass-tourism is bad, that we should respect nature and culture, so I hope you are wrong! I hope as long as I live that travelling the world is worth it, that cultures and folklore kept their strength and shine through this developing world like stars do through the dark. But if not, I’m happy that I’ve travelled now!

    • It’s happening all around the world, actually. I believe that in a few decades, the only “untouched” place is going to be Buthan (specially if they continue their policy of charging 250 USD for each day you spend there).

      I’m sure that the traditional dances and costumes will prevail throughout the ages, it’s only that the persons wearing them will no longer have the same background that made their ancestors feel connected to said traditions, thus, rendering them artificial.

  • Guys I can not believe that you all are cheering for this article, Raphael are you such a pessimist normally? The time to travel is now because of many many reasons but surly not those you have mentioned! How I should treat this article regarding the last post about Gringo Trails which you have wrote? Where you are saying that travellers do not destroy the world. Because those changes you are talking about happens because of us, because of people who travel and that is why Great Reef can be destroyed, that is why Temples of Angkor or Machu Picchu or Petra or any other site can be in similar situation! You know political situation with Russia can change or not, we will see about that soon. But do you know that people been travelling always and will no matter what are the circumstances! People travel to war zones and danger zones. If I would be taking in consideration what our governments say I would never visit Iran, Benin, Lebanon or Abkhazia. About culture and prices going up, this is a natural process which is happening everywhere… countries are developing. Coming to Poland 20 years ago for someone from Western Europe was like a travel back in time, you know feel of Communism, terrible winters, old soviet cars… now those people are overwhelmed with development and Michelin started restaurants… that is a natural process and not only a problem of our times, but of all times. We are living in constant change, I may be sentimental for 80′ but thats is something not everyone got to live and experience those crazy times and culture, same as some of us will not experience real life of tribes in SE Asia. I love your blog and your very mindful articles but I’m very disappointed with this one.

    • It’s not about being pessimistic, after all, change is a double-edged sword, the dead of traditions and local languages is done in the name of economical development and a better lifestyle. As prices increase in developing countries, the lives of their citizens improves since they earn more money now.

      Globalization and political conflicts have changed travel and will continue to do so. Two years ago a friend of mine backpacked in Syria. Today it would be suicide to do so. Likewise, visas are getting harder and harder to obtain for citizens of developing countries and I believe they will become near-impossible in the future as illegal immigrants give their own country a bad image.

      On the other side, The Gringo Trails was about how “backpackers” are destroying the world. And that’s not true. Mass tourism (which can come from backpackers to fannypackers) and globalization (after all, business travelers have also increased in the last decades) are the ones that are increasing the carbon footprint of the planet, even if they are extremely responsible once they land, the mere act of flying and being there is taking a toll on the world. And that’s not sustainable.

      • Raphael if anything those arguments should be used in the article under DO NOT TRAVEL tittle. Because if we had to be fully rational here, we actually should tell people not to travel cos it would actually help the planet Earth! If you telling them to travel now that will only fasten the process of pollution and decaying of the most spectacular sights on Earth such as Petra. So if we would be fully rational and care for Planet Earth we should cheer Peruvian government for actually trying to do sth to stop the process…. not otherwise!

        I’m a traveller myself so that would sounds slightly hypocritical and very selfish of me to tell people NOT to travel, but you just encourage people to travel for wrong reasons. People should travel to discover, to observe and understand different mentalities and cultures. People should travel to learn, to grow from those experiences into even better selves…

  • Some good points here. The Great barrier Reef is somewhere I’ve been wanting to go and I know it has to be sooner rather than later…

  • The time to travel is when it suits you . I prefer to do things at the first opportunity but others may have valid reasons to defer. In some cases they feel it gives something to look forward to. In some cases they are unlikely to do it at all. Ecological considerations should be observed whenever one travels

    • The environment always should be our concern, I agree Paul. Whenever tells me about their plans to travel “in the far future”, I cannot help but remember that scene in UP where Carl and his wife kept postponing their trip to South America.

  • On a recent visit to Luang Prabang in Laos, we started chatting with the young (relative to us) couple at the next table. We were on our way to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. They had visited Myanmar and told us we must go there now “before it’s too late”—I.e. before the volume of outside travelers changes it. We understood what they were saying. We visited Machu Picchu in 1982—on our honeymoon. There really was no town to house tourists there yet. Aguas Calientes was then little more than a train station. We didn’t need a reservation to climb Huayna Picchu. Now for the good news. Sometimes, people realize what they are about to lose and they work to keep it from happening. There’s the Gaeltacht region in southwest Ireland where the are schools teaching Irish Gaelic and you’re likely to hear it on the radio. We’re in Hawaii at the moment where there’s a growing nativist movement aimed at preserving Hawaiian culture. Children are being taught to speak Hawaiian.

    • Whoa, I just visited Aguas Calientes last year and I literally cannot imagine that this town is a fairly recent creation due to the tourism boom of Peru. I bet the lives of the locals have changed for the better :)

  • I’m actually a bit surprised at this article….it comes across as being a bit negative! I agree with some of the points (I have heard about the Great Barrier Reef problems, and Venice sinking…) but we should be trying to work towards solving a lot of environmental issues as best as we can. I’d like to think that we can travel now AND in 10 years from now. I’d like to think that some political issues will improve and we will have better times visiting places that aren’t quite as easy to reach. I think you can look at things from both sides…maybe traveling right now isn’t an option for some people as they have commitments to staying at home to take care of a loved one, or commitments to school or a family. I’d like to think that traveling will be something that I can do in great moderation throughout my life, and I wouldn’t have to panic and try to visit everything now all at once because it is all going to disappear or something.

    • A friend of mine told me that “as the old wonders fall, new ones will arise” and I believe she’s right. True, the Taj Mahal’s beauty might be gone in a few decades but maybe new archeological finds will uncover something as majestic in the near future.

      After all, from the original list of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, only the Pyramids at Giza remain intact while the other six were destroyed due to natural causes (the Colossus of Rhodes, hanging gardens of Babylon, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus) or by the hand of man (Temple of Arthemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia).

  • “I met a 70-year old traveler who complained about how “every Indian wears jeans and t-shirts now” Ha! That made me chuckle! What an interesting remark to make!!! …

  • Well, this post was depressing – but in the way I think you meant it to be…to get people thinking. I’m one of those people who wants to be a slow traveler, really taking a place in BUT I’m also the type that wants to make sure I get to see EVERYTHING! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler :)

  • Another thought provoking post! Funny because you can hear this argument made at any point in time– Raphael you should have seen Chichen-Itza 10 years ago when you could climb the ruins! : ). But I think what you are saying (and I agree) is there is a little bit of sadness in seeing old traditional ways die out. How can we learn from other cultures when globalization takes over and everything becomes the same?

  • Wow, these are all points that I have never really thought about, yet I have noticed all of them to be true in the past 30 years or so that I have been traveling. Things change and we can’t stop that, so you’re right, a lot of the traditional local customs will soon be gone forever. I guess we’d better hurry up and see the rest of the world!

  • sometimes people get upset by the amount of travel my husband and I do each year – perhaps we could be considered a bit decadent… but i’m an accountant so it is all sensibly planned! but these are the reasons why!! one of my major reasons is that I love finding somewhere before it is overrun – so places like Jamaica and Oman that are similar to their neighbouring areas, but are quiet. My dad something in his father of the bride speech about how much we’ve done already and how you never know when you won’t be able to, and also how this generation is so more able to do things… followed by Mark Twain’s quote “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    • I love that quote!!! And I’m so glad that you and your husband are out there exploring the off-the-beaten path destinations of this wonderful world! I’ll definitely ask you for advice when I go to Oman :D

    • I love that quote!!! And I’m so glad that you and your husband are out there exploring the off-the-beaten path destinations of this wonderful world! I’ll definitely ask you for advice when I go to Oman :D

  • Planning to save money for a year and then take off, is that OK? :)
    I need to say though that these points are not only good arguments on why we should travel now, but mostly points of reflection on how we really need to change our way of traveling in a more sustainable way … you agree?

Comments are closed.