Picking up with nowhere to go.

Lets say you’re 20 years old, have a decent amount of cash (nothing unreasonably large, but enough), and no obligations. You’ve got a car, and a source of steady income when you’re done.

You’ve got between 3 and 6 months to plan ahead.

What do you do?
To set the proper parameters here, I’m talking (more or less) about me. I’ve got a car, no obligations and a decent amount of money… and I’ve got the urge to do something not mundane. Cliche, no doubt. But it’s what I want, and have wanted, for a while.

I’m trying to avoid spending too much at any given time (so that rules out hookers and blow), so I can do whatever I decide to do for as long as possible. I was thinking about bumming around the USA, visiting family I’ve never met (and sleeping on their couches, because I’m a mooch like that) and seeing parts of the country that seem interesting…

What did/have you done? Traveled South America, or the Middle East, or Asia, or Europe? How did you fair, and what languages did you need to know?

Edit: Also, how did you do, and would you recommend it?


as a young, adventurous male, with adequate cash and means, this is a subject of great interest to me. I have no idea how in the hell your personality functions, but mine clearly lends itself to being a hiking fanatic. That said, my ultimate dream for life is hiking the Appalachian trail.

I would never reject the idea of going on an extended road trip. Our tax dollars paid for them roads, we damn well better use them. Also, I’ve heard there exists scenery outside of the south-eastern US. Then again, I could be in a Truman Burbank scenario, where forces will always conspire to keep me stationary. Nevertheless, we owe it to ourselves and our peers to keep things from getting too boring.


Find the most beautiful, scenic, interesting places and just go. Stand on the continental divide. See a ball game at Fenway. Surf at Venice Beach. See a play on Broadway. Taste fresh maple syrup in Vermont.

What do you love?

If it were me and my husband, we’d go on a culinary tour of the country. Southern soul food. New England crab. Real Tex-Mex. Go to the newest, most interesting restaurants.

Last time my situation was akin to yours I spent several weeks touring the Desert Southwest on a motorcycle, camping out, hiking, exploring, meeting interesting people along the way, etc. I made a list of National Parks and the like I wanted to see, got some touring guides that outlined the most scenic roads and came up with a loose plan that tied them altogether. New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado… that’s where I’d go. Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with Montana or Wyoming either.

A few weeks ago I met up with a bunch of people from my high school days about 40 years ago. One of them has been living in Thailand mostly for the last 17 years (he works 2 or 3 months a year in Australia and then goes back to Thailand) . Over there he rents a 4 bedroom house for 17 a week. He pays 80c a meal to eat from the street stalls. He bought 1 and 1/2 acres out in the country for 5,000 and will build a two story home for $50,000. He laughingly kept telling me, “It’s a third world country you know…we are supposedly better off than them.”

Luckily I scored an open invitation to go visit. Should be fun as he is the only non-Thai where he lives, somewhere near the Burmese border.

If you take a road trip, don’t miss going south on 163 from UT to AZ through Monument Valley. If it were me, I’d would (and did) hard off to the Middle East and wander around Turkey, Syria, Iran and Yemen.

All I know is go go go!!! Do it before responsibility starts to show up!

Do the four corners of the US… New England, South Florida, Southern Cali and the great North West! You’ll drive thru a ton of greatness just getting to these spots. Its a great time to do this kind of travel as the winter months are leaving. Dont wait too long! And let us know where your adventure takes you!

My omission of Utah from my list was simply an oversight. Of the 4 Corners states it’s easily the crown jewel.

Not if you find the right hookers.

At around 22-23, I was out of college, had some money, and no place to be. I didn’t do anything exciting with it. I married someone, and spent most of my time dicking around, or blowing off to Vegas whenever I got bored, Key West to be fancy. Good times, then.

It has always been a dream of mine if I come into some money and have a few months off of work (yeah right) to backpack around Europe. Get an unlimited Eurorail pass so you can visit pretty much any major city in the EU and ride as often as you want. Don’t make a plan, just own a really good atlas/map. Just take what you can carry on your back. Don’t be picky about what you eat/where you sleep (I hear hostels are cheap). Force yourself to go to a different city every two days or so. See Rome, Paris, Berlin, Venice etc and all the famous landmarks you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

At least that would be mine.

Much as I love me a good road trip (hitch hiked from Toronto to the Yukon and back at your age!), I’d say you should head further afield.

The time for adventure is when you’re young. You can see N America, in nibbles and bits when your life precludes taking off great chunks of time. The larger world, however, demands a big chunk of time, several months if you want to see S America, Asia, the Indian subcontinent. I’ve done all three of those, when I was younger, and highly recommend them. But you should go to what draws you, not let others experiences inform your choices too significantly.

Personally, if I could wave a magic wand I would make travel in the third world a requisite for all teenagers. You should go expose yourself to things that challenge you more than your own country will. Now, while you’re still young and open minded.

Sounds like you’re in for an adventure regardless. Enjoy it!

I volunteered to work an an archaeological dig in Israel immediately before university and then wandered through SE Asia with my sketchbook for six months right after university - Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand. At the time, both were quite affordable.

I’m very glad I did it, because nowadays there is scant chance of having the time.

The closest that I’ve ever been to your situation was in 1993, when I had six weeks of vacation / flextime. My then BF and I kicked around the southwest USA in his van, going into Mexico when the spirit moved us, visiting friends in southern Colorado and New Mexico, riding down the Grand Canyon and spending a little time with family in SoCal and Texas before heading home.

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

I vote road trip.

Go to the places that are hardest to travel first.

You can get around America when you are old- now is the time to get those exotic far-flung places that require a big time commitment out of the way. It sounds scary, but really once you are on the road you figure things out pretty quick. There are thousands of people your age bumming around right now!

Soon after college I took a three-month trip to India. Blew my mind and changed my life.

You may also consider looking into short term volunteer opportunities- many want money, but there exist some free chances to help out. One of my friends stayed at a hostel in Laos for weeks working with the local community teaching English and the like. Traveling is awesome, but the real magic comes from living and working in a place.

Get out of your own culture. From reading the Dope, living outside one’s own country is something not experienced by many Americans, especially when responsibilities kick in. So while you’re young and before you’re too set in your ways, get to Asia or South America or Africa and experience life elsewhere - apart from the air fare (which isn’t even that expensive) the rest is dirt cheap. The hardest part is saying “I will go”. After that, it all falls into place.

Just being 20 would be enough for me.

Agreed with even sven. The most rewarding countries for me have been Iran, Yemen, Syria and Sudan. You will find very few visitors and thus nothing spoilt by tourism. There is tons to see in each country. Going someplace like Sudan is vastly more of an experience than going to France.

I’d go some place where my money’d last longer, maybe get your feet wet in say, Thailand, where it’s pretty fun & easy to get around, then as you meet more people & learn more you can get more adventurous. I agree it might be easier to see North America & Europe when you’re older, on smaller chunks of time. I was lucky enough to be able to just kinda bum around the world for a few years after college, & like someone earlier said, there’s tons of young people out there just backpacking around the globe. I guess more common for Aussies/Brits/Euros than Americans, for a variety of reasons. I think it’s often easier for them to work legally, but that info may be out of date (inside tip: sew a Canadian flag on your backpack. Just joking!), hell, it seems expected for an Aussie/Kiwi kid to travel for a couple of years at least, which I think is fantastic, but get out there & have a great time. It might not always be so easy to just pick up & go!

PS: Maybe check out the Lonely Planet web site. Has alot of current updates from people out travelling. :slight_smile: