Originally posted by davidI
Alright, I've scrolled through all of the posts and feel the need to add my $.02. Sorry - going to be a long post.
I just turned 28.
I bought a house at 25.
I have been to 50+ countries.
I've offered a lot of 'lifestyle' advice to friends in the past about these sorts of things - they often don't listen - and now I commonly hear how much they regret not listening.
My circumstances are a bit different from yours as I work overseas on 5 week on / 5 week off rotations which has made my accomplishments easier, but that doesn't mean I don't recognize how to make the same things happen under a normal Calgary job.
My plan is to take 2013 and 2014 off work. I'll likely sell my house, car and majority of my possessions and try to tick off more of my bucket list. I may rent out my house as an investment property, but that's just because I'm in a financial position to allow me to do so. I wouldn't hesitate to sell the house to pay for my 2 years of travel if it meant keeping me out of debt.
Retirement savings? Yea, I've socked away some money, and guess what? Over 7-years they've increased 1.1% (company DC plan - mutual funds). Interest rates are brutally low so 'saving' can potentially be a negative given inflation rates. Should interest rates rise, property prices will go down (granted mortgage rates will be higher) which I see as a wash.
First - you can't have it all at once. Decide on your priorities and sacrifice those things which can wait.
Second - Pay off your debt and save money until you can afford to travel.
Third - Travel young and take time off work to do it. Take 6 months to 2 years off. Assuming 3 weeks of holiday a year, it would take almost 9 years to accomplish the same amount of travel as a 6 month break from work. Many companies will offer you a 6-12 month unpaid leave if you ask for it and work with them on it. If not, there is plenty of work out there so once you have the experience, quit and go for it.
Why do I recommend traveling when you're young?
1. It's cheaper (I know you said you don't like hostels but $30 hostel vs. $200 hotel makes a big difference on overall travel costs) so suck it up. There's not reason not to like hostels! They make travel more social and fun. Also, if you take that 6 months - 2 years off you can buy an around the world ticket which will cost a fraction of what multiple trips would cost. You'll also better be able to handle the red-eye flights, slow boats, bus rides and cheaper transportation.
2. It's more fun. The backpacker party scene is phenomenal. You'll also get laid, a lot. Who knows, you may meet your dream girl which will turn your life plans upside down.
3. You'll see more and enjoy it more. Would you prefer to hike up to Maccu Picchu and beat the crowds, experience the area for yourself, or show up with 500 60+ y.o.'s on the bus? Same goes for activities. Can you guarantee you'll be able to go cliff jumping, scuba diving, snorkelling, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting etc. when you're 60+? You may be able to, and lots of people do - but lots of people don't.
4. You'll learn a lot about yourself. This is especially true if you backpack solo. You may also discover your true interests and passions in life, which will make your remaining years that much more enjoyable.
5. You'll be a smarter worker when you return. You'll better understand work / life balance, and probably be seen as more 'experienced' just for being older and wiser.
Fourth - Get a job and be so happy that you had that awesome mini-retirement at a young age. Don't stress about the fact that it may mean working one more year when you're 55. Who knows if you'll even make 55? Do you think the fun you'd have traveling at 55 is greater than the fun you'd have traveling in your 20's? Hopefully your travels will give you perspective on the rest of your life and allow you to make the most of your time on this great planet.
Fifth - I still see marriage as a questionable choice (lots of divorced friends), but if you do find that dream girl, you're going to want a different place to live than what you'd buy now anyways. Save on the costs of realtor fees, moving, lawyers etc. and wait until you're ready for your first home. Live in a crappy rental or with roomies or whatever it takes to bank some coin when you return from your travels. Your amazing memories from the road should make it bearable. This is especially true given the uncertainty in Real Estate these days. Condo supplies will probably keep increasing and therefore prices may easily correct (my bro just lost $40k on his condo sale purchased 4 years ago as he moves to a house). If you buy a house, as I did, it means a lot of time and money spent on maintenance and makes it difficult to pick up and leave. You'll also be further away from the 'action' making it harder and more expensive to have fun as a single 20-something. Same with posessions. You'll kit out your place, which just means you'll have a lot of stuff that makes it harder to pick up and leave. That's why traveling before you have 'stuff' makes more sense, and why buying a place with a girl if you plan to get married one day means less money wasted on duplicate possessions.
This is the best advice I've seen in the thread thus far.
Don't listen to those on here telling you that taking some time off will be detrimental to your career. Nonsense. When I graduated, a lot of my peers already had jobs lined up that started a week after school was out. They had panicked all of 4th year about having a job. I partied through 4th year, applied for practically no jobs afterwards, and knew I was going travelling. I got back a while later, and had a job within 2 months. Those peers to this day regret not travelling. You've got your whole life to be a corporate 9-5 bitch, so have some fun before you settle into a mondaine routine. The biggest problem I see with older people is that they're miserable. They haven't taken the time to get to know themselves. Tied down with jobs, mortgages, kids, needy wives/girlfriends, ect. Maybe if you take the time to know yourself, it'll make you happier for the rest of your life.