There seems to be an exorbitant number of young people posting all kinds of pictures and stories about their incredible (and expensive) travels online. And alongside that, most of us young people are struggling just to find affordable housing. So what gives? How is this generation of Americans both more broke than other generations, and also traveling so much? Well, we’re diving into some answers here, so keep reading!
1. It’s All on Credit
One user said, “I have a friend who takes 4 or 5 vacations annually. She and her husband are not wealthy by any means. I asked how they could possibly afford it (bc I was jealous), and she said it was all on credit. I stopped being jealous after that.”
It’s true: a lot of people use credit cards to travel and then make payments afterwards to catch up. Sure, you get cool experiences, but is it worth it to have standing debt that’s accruing interest at an exorbitant rate? Most of us would say no.
2. Debt and Nihilism
One Redditor shared, “Debt and nihilism. A lot of them kind of think the world is going down the crapper and their lives will only get worse from here on out, so might as well enjoy it.”
Another user replied, “Pretty much, honestly. I’m 26, a relatively s- job. Want to start a career, but that’ll require more school, which is fine. The [debt] will only set me back around a year, and I’ll make a bit more thereafter. Even after that, I won’t make enough to both afford a house and contribute a lot to retirement, though; I might as well get my money’s worth in life in my 20s and 30s while I’m still a beast physically (ski vacations, backpacking, running every event from 800 to ultras, hopefully after graduating more expensive stuff even like mountaineering, alpine touring).”
Ok, we understand this view a little better. It’s true, the world is changing rapidly and there’s a lot of joy to be found in traveling while you’re young, and strong enough to have the more intense adventures. But just proceed with caution, especially where credit cards are involved.
3. Rich Parents
“Rich parents,” one user posted.
Another user commented, “Definitely rich parents or running up credit card debt. I went to school for 8 years and ran up around 300k in [debt]. About a year or two after graduating, a classmate shared that he paid all of his student loans off. While I was funding everything with [debt], he was being heavily funded by his parents, so his [debt] was a fraction of what mine was, and he knocked it out fast.”
To be fair, if we had wealthy parents, we’d probably travel too. Probably the worst part about this one is that young people with wealthy parents are more often than not quite out of touch with the struggle middle-class people have to save up and travel. So, compassion might be the key here. That, and maybe keeping some of those gorgeous photos in a private chat instead of an Instagram feed.
4. Credit Cards
One user shared, “Credit cards are a [hecking] drug.”
Another user commented, “Yup I worked collections for too long, and I would see people barely make the minimum payment and then turn around and ask how much [they had] left to spend. Crazyyyyyyyyyyyy.”
One added, “When I was working in retail, I had an amicable ‘cash or card’ chat while ringing someone up when I said something like, ‘I’d just as soon use my card for everything and get the points.’
“The customer, 10+ years older than me and spending a couple hundred dollars, kind of scoffed and said, “Yeah, if you pay it off!”
“That’s not to knock anyone using credit cards to make ends meet. Still, it’s stuck with me because she was fully insinuating that it was unreasonable for anyone to pay off their balance reasonably regularly. Like, ma’am, are you sure you want to buy this dress?”
5. They Live With Their Parents
Generational living has been a feature of many cultures both across the glob and throughout history. In fact, Americans are more of an anomaly in this regard than we usually think. But taking the opportunity to live with your parents, especially if you have a healthy relationship with them, can set you up financially for more than just travel, although that’s certainly one motivation to practice generational living!
One Redditor commented, “They live with their parents.”
Another user replied, “My dad lived with his mom until he was 45. I live with my parents as well. No rent makes a huge difference.”
6. Hard Work or Rich Parents, Possibly Both
One Redditor added to the thread, “I work with a 24-year-old. After college, he got an entry-level job at our company (he was 22) and did really well. He probably makes $70K+, has a roommate and has no kids—plenty of extra money.
“My stepdaughter is 21, works part-time at a coffee shop, and her parents pay her rent, her tuition and most of her expenses. She also has plenty of extra money. So, either hard work or rich parents, possibly both.”
7. High-Income Jobs
While we’re in high school, most of us are told to follow our dreams. And it’s really life-changing to have a job you enjoy versus a job you tolerate or really dislike. But some of us have the talents and dreams that guide us towards higher paying jobs, and that’s a fact we all have to come to terms with. Somebody who loves math and dreams of engineering will probably make more than somebody who has a passion for children and teaching.
“Rich parents or high-income jobs,” one user stated.
Another Redditor replied, “High-income jobs really hit you differently when you don’t have any dependents too.”
8. Saving Up
“When I was a new grad, a bunch of my friends/acquaintances moved out and lived independently. Had the nicest clothes and went out to every event. I lived with my parents and saved. (Lucky enough that they didn’t need my help.)
“Well, I’m in my early 30s now. I have my own condo; it’s not the nicest car, but I’m happy with it. All my friends/acquaintances had to move back home because they couldn’t afford to live independently anymore.
“I don’t know their financial situation, but they always ask how I could afford it. My parents aren’t rich, but living with my parents after I graduated definitely is the reason I could eventually move out and buy my own place,” shared one online user.
9. Being an “Influencer”
It’s not a secret that much of what we see online, especially influencer content, is mostly illusion. There are private jets to rent as a photo set; you can go get your pictures and then fly a budget airline. All the appearance of being rich; none of the reality.
One user posted, “Where do you ‘see’ these people? Are these people you know or people you see on social media?
“Being an ‘influencer’ is a freelance entertainment job. These guys earn money by appearing to have perfect lives in every way. If they don’t provoke envy or aspiration, they aren’t making as much money as possible. Don’t let yourself be sold a bill of goods, okay? There’s a man, not a wizard, standing behind that curtain.”
Ok, it’s hard to fault people for inheriting money enough to travel. And some genuinely do. But that doesn’t make it any easier to follow along with their adventures while we work away in our offices.
One user posted, “Inheritance, trust fund babies, parents’ gifts.”
11. Work in a Tourist Attraction
Credit cards seem to be the biggest answer. Young people aren’t afraid of debt in the way many others are. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with putting trip expenses on a credit card if you know you can pay it off, there’s definitely a risk to traveling on credit too often. Your future self may not thank you.
One user shared, “I work in a tourist attraction. I’ve seen many 21-25-year-olds from the U.S. and other continents travelling here. A lot of them are in college! I’m the same age as them, and I wasn’t able to afford to go travelling or party while in college. Edit: I would like to note a majority of them are paying with credit too.”
12. There Are More Affordable Options if You Plan It Right
“Everyone else has covered the how, but I do want to mention how important it is to travel when you can. There’s no reason to make it lavish to get the benefit from it. There’s lots of more affordable options if you plan it right. Start with weekend road trips. I never left the country (USA) until I was 25, and now I’ve been to 16 countries (although some were for work trips). I try to take one proper vacation a year. Every other year, I do something more extravagant (that I have time to save up for), and the off years, I do something domestic.
“I think it’s the best gift you can give yourself to see how other people live and experience their culture. It expands your horizons and also helps you appreciate home,” one user added.
13. Making Money off Scams
One user shared, “A lot of people I’ve seen in their 20s are doing fraud. I don’t know in detail how they do it, but it’s something with CPNs and people’s social security. I’ve seen people with all these designer bags and designer clothes and going on all these trips. Yet they work in a warehouse or a low-paying job. They are, without a doubt, scamming. Also, I know a lot of women deal with men who are willing to spend money on them. I have friends who will get flown out by men they are dating. These men also seem to be doing illegal activities. Trust me, a lot of people out here are not living right. They are risking their freedom for a fake lavish lifestyle.”
14. Selling Themselves Online
One user commented that most likely, lots of influencers have switched to having paid subscribers to their accounts. And while it’s not exactly easy money for just anyone, a lot of people are succeeding at drawing in people who are willing to pay for their content. It takes a pretty high comfort level with posting yourself online for others’ viewing pleasure, but those who have the guts and the success will probably have the ability to travel on that money too.
15. They Know Someone Who Works for an Airline
“People give others gift cards and airline points and know people who work in airlines. So, if you know someone who works for an airline, you can [often] get a $100 guaranteed ticket for a flight. Or buddy pass is free! Also, work in an airline that gives you free seating when empty seats are available. Also, parents sell their homes to their kids for $80K, and the home value is $500K plus.
“They take out a second mortgage on the house to live it up in their 20’s and slowly roll into their 30s and, by 40’s, divorced and in Debt. Also, Credit card points from people to buy airline tickets and travel expenses. They also have their parents credit cards and order ride shares with accounts of their parents that have corporate accounts credit cards on them. Females are more likely to have Dad’s credit cards for emergencies and Guys more likely to have [Mommy’s] credit cards that stepdad or birth dad pays for. Also, they have credit card debt that they file Chapter 7 on, and parents most likely pay the vehicle/ rental payments. Now, they use their parents’ vehicles to make money doing rideshare/or gig work while their parents pay the rent/ and the vehicle they pay bills. Parents paid for the college! Things I have learned about from people doing rideshare and people I have met in life,” posted one user.
What do you think of the statements listed above? Share your thoughts down in the comments!
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