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Articles > Student Life January, 15, 2018

Should I Go To Uni Or Go Travelling?

Beth Bartlett
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8.40 / 10

‘So where are you thinking of going to university?’

That is the first question posed to me at any family gathering this year. It’s also slightly different to the question which is really on my mind right now, that is, do I even want to go to university, or just spend a year travelling? You may have clicked on this article as you are faced with the same dilemma as me, here are my thoughts so far…

going travelling

What’s of more value: seeing the world or getting a degree

1. I want life experience, not work experience:

“Wanderlust: A strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world.”

Scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest we are bombarded by images of different cities and sights all over the world. I can’t help but think “I want to go there, and there and then, there”. How am I going to have the time to fit all of this in?

If you’re anything like me, you’re naturally curious about different cultures. I want to learn about different religions and traditions.  Just like Alice in Wonderland I am becoming “Curiouser and curiouser”. I want to experience festivals like Holi, I want to be educated on life and the world, something that appeals to me in a way that Law or Finance at University doesn’t. I want to learn through direct experiences and through meeting and talking to people.

2. Either way, it’s going to cost you.

So my basic understanding is that money is needed for everything. You’re going to need it whether you decide to travel or study after finishing school. The cost of travelling for a year while being ‘fairly comfortable’ can range from £7,700 to £14,000+ depending on the traveller.

There is no set cost for deciding to travel, but this shouldn’t put us off because deciding to study instead is still expensive!

Although the numbers for tuition fees and loans set by student finance appear rigid, they are still arguably just as vague as working out travelling costs. Both carry their expenses and provide different yet valuable outcomes. You just need to figure out which you value more.

3. Should I just delay university?

I actually really want to go to university. I want a degree and I enjoy studying. I’m an academic person and my plan has always been to go straight from school to uni and get my degree. But then why not defer, travel, and get my degree afterwards? That way I can enjoy travelling while I’m young and have no responsibilities, and still have uni lined up for when I’m back. Sounds like a great plan, right?

But I have heard stories of people who have taken that route and found it difficult ‘re-entering’ academic life.  You go from being completely free to a strict study schedule and being stuck in lectures.  There’s the risk of getting frustrated and dropping out before finishing the degree. So is it better to save traveling until after?

4. Jobs are necessary, but do I need one right now?

The basic structure of life is that when you’re a child you play.  As a teen you study, and as an adult you work. You’re constantly asked as a child “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Maybe what they should also be asking is “Where do you want to go when you grow up?”

When I was 8 I wanted to be a bin-lady, at 10 a fashion designer, then a teacher, then a midwife. Now what I really want is to be Peter Pan and not grow up just yet. Yes, a job is necessary, but why are we pressured to get one straight away. Why shouldn’t it be expected of us to explore and gain a better understanding of the world first? Wouldn’t these experiences give us more perspective on life?


At the heart of it, I simply want to do the right thing. For my parents and society, but most importantly for myself.

So what is right for me? If you were waiting for the answer, I’m sorry, I don’t have one yet.  At the end of the day, each of us, with all the facts in front of us, must make our own decision.

If you’re in the same conundrum as me then comment below as I’d love to hear what you’re thinking right now.


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  1. Lauren

    I’m so desperate to travel before uni but none of my family are taking me seriously. The world is wide and the town I’m from is tiny, all I want is to escape and find my independance while learning from people of all cultures. I’m also very academic so I feel kinda guilty for not pursuing that, I just feel like my heart yearns to travel to all corners of the globe

  2. Deborah

    I think that travelling before university is a great idea if you can afford to do so. Being able to relax and take a breather before you go into a hectic 3 year degree (or 4) would be very helpful and relaxing to the mind after the exams you have just done to get into the university. If you want to travel, travel. Only you know what you want and if you’re able to do that then why not.

  3. Miriam ziarat

    To be honest its up to you I mean sometimes in life we all need to go out and enjoy life and not get stuck in more work. I mean you are still young and all, so you should enjoy before you get busy. Also I’m pretty sure in uni there are exchange international programmes that could take you abroad. Which seems so exiting, experiencing a different way of life. Or just take a gap year and volunteer at WWOOF where they pay everything for you to go abroad and volunteer. Our lives are wasted because we don’t make good decisions. so go ahead and do something different sometimes those who travel more are better than those who stay at home and learn. You’ll probably have a lot skills by then. In the end its your choice.

  4. Mariana

    I’m in the same position. 2 out of 5 of the courses I’m applying for do not allow me to apply deferred due to extreme competition and so I have no idea what I’m going to do yet. Much of it depends on which offers I get back and ‘what my heart tells me at that point in time’, as I always say. If you do take a gap year, how will you fund your travels? I’m having problems with that too.

  5. Queen Zim

    I think you should go to university first, it’s always good to get a degree or two and once you finish university, you can take a year off before looking for a job and go travelling.

  6. jayson delequina

    I think we should go to uni first before travelling. When you complete your studies and achieve your goals, then that is the time to do what you want. So STUDY FIRST BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE.

  7. Karain

    I think that deciding to travel! Making yourself happy is good and by all means go for it, but we must also be smart and think long term and facts are we can go to uni and travel on holidays. I think that young adults feel like have to live their entire lives now in a rush.

  8. mohmed

    I think if you have money to travel

  9. Sarah

    As a person who went to Uni straight from school, got a job straight after Uni and then went travelling, I would say that there are benefits and disadvantages to all approaches. The main benefit I found to my approach was that I was able to finance my own travel with savings from my job and therefore didn’t need to rely on parents. On the other hand, if you can get people to donate towards your travel, especially if you go somewhere and volunteer for a worthy project, you are equally non-reliant on parents. The other main benefit to the way I did it was that it has been easier for me to get back into the world of work since I had two years of experience on my CV rather than just lots of education. In the end, you have to do what is right for you.

  10. Lyka Macbeth

    you can do both things at the same time like travelling and doing online classes.

  11. O onehoney96

    If you can afford to travel, that’s great but don’t you think it’s more rewarding to go to university first as it gets education out of the way, as well as gaining qualifications.

  12. Rach

    Travelling would be a great advantage as it gives you a clear mind and allows you to think about what you actually want to do as it gives you a break from studying after studying and constantly working. However I feel like I may just give up and decide I want to travel all the time and not actually got to University or I might decide I want a job straight away, which is not necessarily a bad thing

  13. ClaudiaLDN

    It all depends on what you get out of it, education isn’t for everyone because you could end up going straight into work figure out that none of it is for you

  14. Rai

    I think it’s best to go to university first as it gets education out of the way, as well as gaining qualifications. If you can afford to travel, that’s great but don’t you think it’s more rewarding to take a break from the 3-4 hard working years?

  15. Anita

    I didn’t go straight to uni as I wanted to have a back up qualification if uni didn’t work out I think that people should go to uni because I regretted not going 2 years ago due to other reasons. You can always go travelling and not regret not going in the moment. Also uni can give low confident people chance to build up confidence to go travelling, that’s my opinion

  16. Kyah Sisulu

    I did my degree and I’m going to travel even though I was on a set path for a masters and then a doctorate in clinical psychology. I got my first class degree while working three jobs and realised it would never stop. Next there would be the masters and then the pressure to get onto a doctoral course and then to get the doctor jobs. When would I travel? I decided now.

  17. Emily

    I strongly agree with your first point and personally I would go travelling before uni as right now you have no job, no children, no commitments which means you have the time to travel and experience the world. university is important but at the end of the day, don’t you want to be able to look back on your life and remember all the experiences you had and once in a lifetime opportunities?

  18. Chantelle Rose Collins

    I would like to believe that travelling before university is the best thing, but I don’t. I feel like keeping that academic mindset by attending university soon after college or six-form is the most beneficial thing to do. Travelling beforehand can be seen to throw you off the idea of staying in education all round. I mean if you could afford to do so though, I’d say go ahead. But maybe after your 1st or 2nd year of uni 🙂

  19. Emilia Sokolowska

    I think you should just follow your heart because when you go to uni you will not be able to do much with your family friends boyfriend or girlfriend. Enjoy life while you can, you got freedom use it

  20. Patrycja

    In my opinion if you really want to go to university, a year won’t change anything. I would even say that can help you to be more aware and mature student. During a gap year you can get to know different cultures, gain life experience, meet people from all over the world. You can learn a lot about other countries, but also about yours, cause you get the perspective and easily compare them. It’s better to travel at young age, because you don’t have so many responsibilities (uni, work, children etc) that you have to think of. And of course there’s difference between going somewhere for a week or two and spending more time in foreign country, because you have real opportunity to get to know this place well then. However, this is just my opinion. Good luck!

  21. Mohammed Abdo

    I think it is great

  22. Alan

    Hi, I didn’t go to Universtiy straight out of School as I made the decision that I wanted to study Film Production rather than some media studies type course that I had applied for. I then spent a year working and another year working on a portfolio which got me into art college to study film production. I decided to defer for a year and go travelling as I knew that after studying if I wanted to make it in the film industry I would need to work really hard after my degree and wouldn’t have the chance to go travelling again for a long time. During my first few months of travelling, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t go back after a year. I ended up deferring for another year but still knew I wasn’t going back. I travelled for 4 years in all and It was the best experience of my life, I wouldn’t change it for the world. If you are evening thinking of travelling I would suggest going for it. You can always go back to University later. I have just applied to go and study Fine Art as that is my passion now and I think that going to University as a mature student will give me the opportunity to come at it with a more mature head.
    I know that you are not likely to take that long out but I think that the life experience you would gain from travelling can only help you when you get back. As for the people that can’t settle back into academic life, I feel that is more to do with the sort of people that they are and that is why they went travelling instead of straight to Uni. University isn’t suited to everyone and they may not have settled into academic life that well anyway. If you are sure about the degree that you want to do it will still be there when you get back. It will also give you the time to know that the degree you have chosen is what you want to do as you will be looking forward to going back to do it. It also looks great on CVs when applying to Graduate jobs etc.
    As you can see I am on the travelling side of things. I hope that this helps you to decide.

  23. Jasmine Laskar

    Love the article… i can definitely relate!, I suppose its each to their own. Everyone is different but if you want to travel first then study you 100% have to be in the right frame of mind. My path hasn’t been so straight forward so i have traveled, worked abroad and got used to having a full time wage each month. And there is is still SO MUCH i want to see and do. Only now, as i get older the thought of university comes to mind and i know i could survive uni but its going to be tough. There is so much beauty in the world and now i’m just totally in love with travelling and i miss my old surroundings…its definitely hard to re enter the academic life. But remember age is just a number and you could still enjoy your travels after completing your degree, it would be a nice break and reward for all the hard work! I hope everything works out for you 🙂

  24. Tharanath

    Interesting Article! However at this point, I believe attending university is more important than traveling. You can always travel the world, but completing your studies now is more practical 🙂

  25. Tina Howe

    Life experience is a magical thing, the question you should ask is, if you went to UNI first would you, although still young, feel able to walk away and travel? On the other side of that question is the one you have already posed, if you travel now would you be able to recommit to study? As an adult I have bitterly regretted not having the courage to go back to school and study, my dream of being a midwife was always weighed up against my ability to earn money. Have the strength to look at yourself and answer the question, “what is best for me in the long run”!

  26. syedaMomina

    no doubt that student life is different to travelling and gaining life experience. But I feel like at this age we should keep our desires aside and focus on studying.

  27. Nic

    Neither travelling or uni has to be done at 18, theres no rules to life. I gained work experience for a year before going to uni, worked a few years bought a house then went travelling for a year. I thimk i gained more out of travelling this way as i didnt just get pissed all year and was old enough to drive campervans in oz. Im now planning on renting my house out and heading back out on my adventures. What course would you do at uni? Could you work abroad for a year whilst travelling? I worked in oz and left the uk with just £1,500 but worked in oz to fund my year I’m lucky that im a nurse so eaay to pick up work! But a lot of jobs pay well especially in the outback! Bar work if youve got experience or consider getting exp before you go. You’ll have a fab time whichever order you decide!