Last month, I boarded a late night flight to Munich in unusual company – with a bunch of 15-16 year olds, flying internationally for the first time in their lives. My initial apprehension of travelling with “kids” was quickly washed over by their fascination for things I’ve started taking for granted in my nomadic life. Things like watching movies while floating 37,000 feet above earth, observing locals hanging out in Munich’s charming beer gardens, and connecting with people from around the globe even if our cultures, accents and appearances are entirely different.
Travelling with the junior Indian football team for the FC Bayern Youth World Cup on assignment for Lufthansa, was not only a revelation in terms of how the road can influence young minds, but also a reminder of what it is like to be sixteen and feel both, the yearning to see the world and the hopelessness that you must put your dreams on hold till much later in life.
Also read: An Open Letter to Parents: Let Your “Kids” Travel
So this post is dedicated to the boys I travelled with, who in their own quiet ways, shared with me their dream of travelling to lands far away. And to young adults everywhere who aspire to experience far off corners of the world… this is all the advice I wish someone had given me when I was sixteen:
I often look back upon my teenage years and marvel at the amount of time I spent doing nothing in particular. Don’t get me wrong; I mostly had fun in my little bubble of school gossip, competitive studying, basketball and teenage crushes. But I never got more imaginative; even when I got access to my first computer and a dial-up connection sometime in my teens, I only ever used it for chatting on MSN Messenger and Orkut (gulp ;-)). I secretly harbored dreams of visiting Mexico someday and loved Enrique’s music (don’t judge me!), but it never occurred to me to use the internet to learn Spanish. Or watch films or read books about far off places in the world. I would have loved a headstart, because as you go to college and become financially independent, those seemingly vast reserves of time deplete pretty quickly.
So even if you don’t afford to travel yet, do it virtually. Pick a country you’d love to see someday and use Duolingo or Youtube tutorials to learn its language. Watch movies from different parts of the globe on Netflix. Take a free course on Coursera on a travel subject that really interests you (anything from Buddhism to Greek Mythology). Imagine how cool it’ll be when you are able to travel to some of these dream places, and immerse deeper in them because of your virtual connections!
Read: Unlikely Books That Inspired Me to Travel
Work part time
The more I’ve travelled, the more it’s struck me that my native country, India, is one of the only countries in the world where we expect our parents to support us financially even after we finish high school or turn 18. And that’s probably a big reason why we don’t travel right after high school or college – because why should our parents pay for that too?
On my part, when I went for my bachelor’s degree to Singapore at 17, I had a big student loan that covered most of my college and living expenses. While I studied, I picked up part time work as a teaching assistant, did three internships during the summer holidays and even wrote for a couple of obscure websites. Whatever little I earned, I saved it for low budget trips with college friends around Southeast Asia – my first taste of independent travel.
Want to travel when you are 16, 18, 20 or any other age? Get a job. I know many parents tend to be against part time jobs when you are young, but look online. Cut down all that time you spend on Facebook and Whatsapp, and learn a skill like video editing, social media management or coding, create a simple portfolio of your work, and write to small companies with your work samples. You’ll earn some money to travel, and experiment with work you could do professionally in the future… win-win!
PS: I’m often on the lookout for creative individuals who can help me with video editing and social media projects. Email me with your portfolio if you are interested.
Read: Dealing With Travel-Wary Parents
Keep an eye out for travel opportunities
The one thing I regret about my college days was that I never took the opportunity to do a study exchange semester in another country. I saved money for it, dreamed about spending four months studying in Canada (randomly), but ultimately got lazy, nervous, too stuck in my comfort zone. I did travel to Canada much later in life, but it’s different when you’re a student; I can’t fathom how it could’ve changed my perspective. But life is too short for regrets, so I’ll say this:
Don’t get too cozy in your comfort zone. Keep your eyes and ears open, and try to grab any kind of travel opportunities that come your way. Anything from the football world cup that enabled ten boys from across India to travel to Munich, to writing scholarships, to travel contests. Follow brands in your field of interest on Instagram, join Facebook and Google groups that share such opportunities, and don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t make it.
Read: How I’m Funding My Adventures Around the World Through Travel Blogging
Look for courses and internships that involve traveling
In a country where most people tend to look upon travel as merely a holiday, it helps to have a “reason” to visit or live somewhere else. I’ve met plenty of people who did long or short courses in subjects like social entrepreneurship, travel journalism and anthropology – which had them do field work in interesting parts of the world. If you plan to intern, look for opportunities in a place other than where you live, so you can get work experience, pocket money and a chance to satisfy your itchy feet at the same time.
Depending on what you’re studying, you could look at organisations like Aiesec, which offer international internships; join Facebook groups that share unique opportunities from around the world (like Youth Opportunities); and dig deep on google to find others like you who added travel to their life at a young age. The point is to plunge into the endless pool of information online and find the opportunities you need.
Read: How to Earn Money While Travelling
Explore your own country
Many countries I’ve explored around the world (especially India) offer incredible diversity – culturally, culinarily, lingually and in landscapes – and much of it is undiscovered, affordable and full of kind souls. So this excuse that travelling is too expensive, or too time consuming, or too unsafe, needs to be thrown out the window. I was 23 when I did my first solo trip – on a budget of 20,000 rupees for a month. I was afraid to break out of my shell, connect with locals and fellow travellers, and open my mind to unexpected adventures. It was a steep learning curve, but I learned to train my instinct and free my mind of much of the fear of solo travelling.
So if you’re really itching to travel and manage to save a little bit of money, pick a place in your own country, do some research and travel with an open mind… you’ll always wonder why you waited so long!
Read: Solo Travel: To Go or Not To Go?
Travel to see relatives or family friends in cool places
I know, I know; who wants to go visit family in the name of travel, right? But when you’re young and crunched for funds, this is one way to get some support from your family and travel on the cheap. I remember the time I flew to Hong Kong for a job interview right after college (I didn’t get it), and reluctantly agreed to stay with my mom’s friends’ family so I could spend a few extra days exploring the country. They turned out to be very cool people; I went on a memorable hike into the surrounding mountains with them, and got my first taste of solo travel, yet with someone to fall back on.
So leverage the Indian mindset of finding relatives and distant friends, in some cool parts of the country or the world, and travel on a budget yet safely enough that your parents feel comfortable.
Read: 6 Alternatives to Travelling Alone
Chill… you have your whole life to chase your dream!
I know this is the last thing you want to hear when you’re a teenager and raring to go, but hey, you have your whole life to chase your dream to travel (or whatever it is that you want to do). Work on your skills, deepen your understanding of your options, take baby steps whenever you can, stay patient… but no matter what happens, don’t buy into the world’s greatest lie:
[The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho]
“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the little boy asks.
The old man replies, “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
Over to you, what advice would you give your younger self?
Thanks to Lufthansa India for the opportunity to travel to Germany for the FC Bayern Youth Cup, and be reminded of what it’s like to be young and penniless!
Join my travels virtually on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Subscribe to my newsletter to receive travel inspiration in your inbox!
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.
Enjoyed this read thank you x
I have been reading your blogs for a while now and have seen you at the Nation Geographic event at Title Waves in Bandra, Mumbai. I love your blog and somehow can connect to it because I am somehow trying to find the courage to quit my job and pursue my dream of traveling.
My love for traveling made me take an internship in an NGO in Nepal, to the Hornbill festival in Kohima or to Rumilly which is small village in France. I have extensively traveled across India.
I read in this post that you do need someone for your social media. I handle to social media account for this brand called Sophie la Girafe. (check : @sophielagirafeindia on instagram) and I also come the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication in Pune (popularly known as SIMC).
I would love if I could help your social media/marketing.
Would love to hear back from you.
Always have huge admiration for all that you do in living your dream and this article does the right thing by suggesting the colts and the young to seek love in travelling without worrying too much about any other thing
Thanks Diganta! I kind of envy the opportunities available to teens now, but I suppose we had our fair share too and we just didn’t know 😉
Yes Shivya, probably we were unaware of all the chances and opportunities that lay in front of us all that time😊😊
I loved this. You have beautiful photos and excellent advice. 🙂
Glad you did; thanks for reading!
Pingback: no dears no no no no no first with chaperonne……. – robert's space
This was an inspiring post. While I’m on the other side of the Traveling Youth spectrum, most if not all of your advice rang true to me. Taking initiative to reach for a goal (in this case a destination) AND having patience are such valuable traits.
Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to plan my next trip.
Hi! shivya, saving this one to share with my almost teens 🙂 Lovely to see you after so long.
Your post literally made me regret the times I wasted chasing some stupid crush or just lazing at home discussing some other girl’s crush during my teenage..I wish I had been little more imaginative and innovative…Great post..loved it
Excellent advice. But then, “youth is wasted on the young”. Many young people will, however, use your very specific pointers and take your advice. Others will stay with their high school crushes or college romances, even when they wish to travel. Now if someone could write a parallel blog on how to see through romedy dreams and the Mills and Boon versions of LOVE. Can you hear one regretful no-longer young person writing? But now my new mantra is better late than never. Love your blog because it actually helps others travel, and is not just a personal hey- look-how-lucky-I-am piece of writing. Used it while travelling in Europe. Finally made it. You certainly are my shooting star!
Thanks for advising baby step 😉 & travel with family friends..
Will definitely try first step in India !!!
Pingback: Advice for the Young and Penniless Who Want to Travel. — The Shooting Star | Special Connections
Thank you for this thoughtful & budget-minded post. I posted it to my blog with a couple of thoughts added here
Nice article for the traveler.
Thanks a lot Shivya!! You are topmost reason for inspiring & motivating me to travel and converting it into as career option. Coincidentally I too will be on sabbatical leave after few months. Will exploring Uttarakhand during that time along with opting for Basic Mountaineering Course and visiting few volunteering places. I wish to work with people like you with my photography and video making skills. 🙂
Hey, Shivya! Great post – have shared it on twitter.
Today, more than anything else, I see youngsters spending a lot of time on social media. That’s not necessarily bad, but I feel it’s a diversion from more worthy goals unless you want to leverage your social media skills in a job later in life.
There is so much online information available for free today – from universities offering courses to DIY videos, the sources have expanded like crazy and everyone, youngsters included, can take advantage of it. I too learnt everything about blogging and vlogging from such platforms.
An interesting account. One thing that I rue about myself is that I hardly traveled and forever whining about the lack of money. While I may not be young to do it, I take a learning from this post and it’s never too late to travel, exploring the world.
What a great piece of advice! My story is much similar, and the only regret that I have is not doing the things that I wanted to, much much earlier, maybe in the teens. Every youngster itching to travel should definitely pick up your words. I think youngsters are much better equipped with resources & technology, and with this mindset that you have told, they can surely give wings to their dreams!
Hi Shivya, We love this article and also wish someone had told us these great tips when we were younger. I could have started travelling at a much younger age. We love all your articles and have added you to our 10 Best Female Travel Bloggers
Keep up the great articles !!!!
your photos is very interesting of very super image of my give in life
Always intriguing to hear advice and inspiration from those who have already done it before and as a youngster i loved reading magazines that were for people older than me with words of wisdom. I guess one important thing to remember in life is that your never too old to travel. On my first group trip to India, there was a man in his 60s who had never travelled, however, once he retired, which was six months earlier, he had gone to Vietnam to volunteer and then came direct from there to our group trip in India. Since then he has travelled extensively. He was well received and loved in India because of his warmth and naivety if you like. I have met people in their 70s too who have only just begun to travel.
You never know where your travels will take you! I came to India on a group trip and within the space of a year I had moved out here permanently:-)
So true! To think about all of the ways I could’ve used the internet in my teens to help set me up as a writer back then.
Great advice, wish I had this a few years ago 🙂
This is so cool. I am a person who is stuck in the “Worlds Greatest Lie.” I hope who always have a yearning to come out of the traditional ways will never live in the Worlds greatest lie. You are a great inspiration for her. Yesterday she was talking about this post. Keep writing and inspiring the youngsters so that they can mould their lives.:)
I have always been waiting for your post….and loved every piece….be it pictures or words……plus the learnings. Thanks.
This is an inspiring post especially for the young minds. I often hear people tell me they’d love to travel but have budget constraints. Its so true that there are so many place to explore within ones own country. A surprising fact is that as a local we tend to ignore monuments, historic or interesting places right besides us !
Love your blog especially the advice you give here! I was wondering if you could check out my new blog? I’m looking for people to contribute!
I read almost half the posts on your blog and got inspired to pen down my travels too. I just created a blog, I have no posts yet.
What advice do you have for me? 🙂
Your posts are helpful and inspiring for those who want to travel and see the world we live in. In fact you inspired me to think about changing my path to full time traveling. A great admirer from Kerala 🙂
Super inspiring even at 37! 😀
The article is written correctly, we need to use our time productively, the points written are to be taken for consideration.
Hi Shivya, This post is great motivation to the young generation. I have few things to add, in my opinion, travelling doesn’t mean only going far away places. Nowadays, our young generation is more influenced by social media and more time is wasted on mobile phones. They should be motivated to explore their city, streets, markets, public places etc.They should first understand what is happening around them. I think this should be the first and most important advice.
My advice to younger people is 1) To say yes to opportunity and 2) The world can be a friendly place. Be smart about who you deal with but be friendly. A smile can open up the world.
inspiring post for young generation..your post also make me feel sad as I couldn’t make it in my young age
But still your writing inspiring me to do it at slow pace at this age
Being a travel blogger myself, I have been asked by many of my female readers on possibility of travelling solo across India. Quite a few times I have given your example to them. You stories and blogs are inspiring. Keep up the good work shivya !!!
Very good advice! I am looking for people to contribute in my blog, would you be interested? 🙂
This is a great post, I love your blog!
India seems to be a very interesting country to travel, one can use trains, buses or tuktuk
Pingback: A nice blog – Travelifestyle
How I wish I had read this blog post when I was younger… Very informative post! I would certainly rcommend to get a weekend job or something, just to gain some money so you can travel in school holidays. 🙂
Nice post. Even I have missed out so many thing in my teenage making me regretful now. I am exploring my surroundings now..
Pingback: 6 Asian Female Travel Bloggers to Follow – the red crowned crane
I love your tips. I’ve learnt so much from your post!
Thanks for writing this. This was really inspirational and motivating. At times you just need to come out of the shell of your comfort zone and never know a whole world of opportunities is waiting for for you.
I like your advises and your fotos are really pleasant for visual treat.
Love your write ups on the travel.I am fascinated by your quest for exploring the unknown and a burning desire to overcome fear to experience life to the fullest.
I just wonder if the people who have passed the single hood phase or are busy managing other priorities of life (Parenthood,career etc) can dream to expand their life and travel …travel like a carefree bird.
If one aspires to take up travelling and related work(blogging ,you tube channel etc) full time,how can one manage the challenges which will follow along this path while taking care of the other priorities of your life(Kids ,relationships etc)
Also ,while you are in 20’s or 30’s ,you can travel incessantly,Not really sure if one will be able to maintain the pace in 40’s or even later years of life ?In nut shell ,does this career or life path offer a life long possibility of sustenance .
Will appreciate you insights on the above concerns .
To be honest this is the first time i am reading your post. But your story inspired me. Basically i use to call myself a failure person. Cause i was never satisfied with any job. I always wanted to travel. But did not have the courage to do so. I am 23 now. And i think it is time to chase the dream now. Otherwise i will be stuck in the same life what usually people live always…
I wanted to thank you, cause maybe without reading these kind of blogs i could not able to find my courage to chase my dream. Wish you all the best for your future travels..
Hi I am james I love to travel and mostly with my friend your post is nice and so explanatory thanks for this … being young, it is quite expensive to travel but this is something new.brief an informative.
Wonderful and very truthful text on traveling. I´m a traveler too, and resonate with your words. I think we travelers who have decided we are on the road forever are a minority because the majority seems – as always – to fear a lot. I believe it is fear that holds these people back, I so much agree with you in that money is not the number one priority determining as to whether you get a good traveling experience or not. I have indeed very, very little money myself. I work whenever I can but my heart is in writing as is yours. I write poems, stories and articles for newspapers and magazines. If you like, I might send you a sample of my work. I am interested in working with you as you seem sincere, independent and strong to me. Inspiration is key. Thank you. God bless. Alma
Hi, I thought people of your kind live only on foreign countries. I was surprised to go through your story. Why dont you share something about your family and how your family members agreed to your decision.!! that must be quite interesting
Hello Mr. Kumar,
I honestly do not see the point. Why on Earth would I or anybody else you do not know personally wish to share intimate details from their family life with you? And what is this about “family members agreeing”? It is total crap to me. I went traveling because I goddam wanted to. Whatever members of a family or not members of a family happen to think of that decision is entirely their own business, not mine. But to have you or anybody else poking their noses into that borders indecency. So how about disclosing your own private affairs before you start expecting others to do so? Or else get brave yourself. It really is tedious to say the least to have people look at you as if you were a curiosity – or, in your own, very revealing words:”people of your kind” – and thus expecting private details for entertainment. Turn your gaze inwards instead.
My psychiatrist suggested me ur blog when i was in peak struggle with my ocd… May b she noticed my interest in travel even before i did…. And yes i took my baby step… My solo travel to jaipur in d name of a wedding…. I will never forget d experience and yes i did ask myself… Y didn’t i do this sooner… I have started finding my path and my life and now i’m getting lesser and lesser scared by d fact dat its different from dat of others…… So in d end….. All thanks to u shivya and preeti ma’am (my psychiatrist) and to dose who never left my side 🙂
I am vrushali just a 16 year old girl who is exploring carrier options.
By reading your blogs (and if i am being honest) for a girl coming from a middle class family from india has inspired me like in many ways ……in a country like india you quit your corporate job and decided to travel(signifies courage & confidence).
I am not sure if i will be a travel blogger or not…. but reading these stories and my love for travelling and different country cultures and traditions i think the chances are pretty good.#highlyinspired
HI Shivya, read your blog, wow, what a fascinating you live.wish i could do the same. your views on georgian deportation problem is very true, as i have a friend from punjab who has buyed land in georgia, he was deported inspite having 350 acres legal land, then you can think of travellers on e-visa. seems dis beautiful , friendly country from the old soviet era has become totally difficult to travel as tourist.So my next option is bolivia or equador.
Hi Shivya! I want to write so much but don’t know how to pen it down. Every line of this blog was so relatable that it felt it was just me who you were talking to. It’s so fascinating to travel and this blog made me emotional but gave me a sense of satisfaction and hope that there’s still a lot of time left to travel and to learn. Thank you. Stay safe!! Love 🙂
You really inspire to hit road. And best part is, you inspire to do it responsibly. The way you encourage veganism, plastic free travel and reducing carbon footprints are really phenomenal. Keep up the good work :).