When my son graduated from business school in 2008 with plans to travel around the world and then find a job, I gave him sound advice.
“Son, we’re heading in to a really bad recession. You have only experienced boom markets. You have no idea what is about to happen. Under no circumstances should you take off now and see the world. Times are too tough. Why put all your hard work at risk. Trust me.”
And his reply? “Thanks, Mom. See you in 6 months.”
The conclusion to this story is instructive. The young man in question went around the world, had countless amazing experiences, came back, struggled for a short while and then got himself an excellent job
So here is my top travel tip for members of the Class of 2010.
Ignore your well-intended relatives and their advice as well as your own worries about earning a living. Take that trip. Go walkabout. Go (deeper) in to debt if you must. You have the rest of your life to pay it off. I don’t think it makes a huge difference where you go. Just go.
Now if you are a parent of a member of the Class of 2010, and you have bought into the idea that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your graduate, then here are some suggestions for a graduation present that may be imprudent but will never be forgotten.
A train ticket on either the 6,000 mile Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Beijing or the Ghan in Australia - 2,980 miles in 54 hours from Adelaide to Darwin
A trip with either Global Volunteers – a well established organization offering the opportunity to live with locals and work on service programs or Relief Riders International providing humanitarian, medical and educational missions on horseback
A copy of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, a budget of $3,000 - $5,000 and 5 – 7 months to hike the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail
For far less money and time, tackle the 71 mile Apolobamba Trek in Bolivia – part of the ancient road network of the Inca, without crowds, where less than $40 a day will get you a guide, a burro and accommodation and transport to and from La Paz
And I add this last suggestion just to make every mother’s blood run cold – a copy of Patrick Symmes’, Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend – a travelogue that recreates Che’s eight month motorcycle ride through South America - and how about a nice BMW?
Graduates of the Class of 2010 – off you go!