Need Some advice


Dryer sheet aficionado
Jun 26, 2004
I need some advice on a financial matter.  I am currently in college and working park time.  I was thinking about taking next summer off to backpack through Europe.  A trip to Europe costs about $4500.  I started wondering if I should take this once lifetime opportunity to travel or put the money to better use.

My current financial situation:
1, 500 in the bank
No credit card debt
Car is already paid off
8k in student loans
5k in a mutual fund

Should I take the trip to Europe or use the money to pay down student loans or invest the money?
Go! Go! Go!...

I had the almost exact same situation when I was 18...finished high school, was working FT in the summer to pay for college in the fall and had the opportunity to backpack across Europe for a few months with a buddy of mine...did all the prep work, got passports, travel visas the last minute, I backed out. My buddy was pissed, but he went anyway and had a BALL. Travelled all over....

To this day I still regret it. I'll never be young again and likely will never have the opportunity to backpack across Europe....of course, I have a lot more dough now, and will travel across Europe when the kids are all gone off to college, but it just won't be the same experience when you are 60 and married.... can make up the $4500 some other time. I sure wish I had.....
It's really a personal choice but I'd suggest that if you're even thinking about it that you do it. It will delay FIRE a miniscule amount and the experience will be well worth it. With the possiblility you have for an early pension at 46 that you discussed on another thread that makes it an even easier decision.

I passed up some opportunities to do similar things when I was younger and I've been working at making up for it in 3-4 week increments over the years. It's one of the few things that I regret.
You didn't read my posts correctly.  I'm a MBA student who in Air Force ROTC(Reserve Officer Training Corps) and this is my final year before being commissioned into the Air Force as an officer.

Just in case you don't know, there are three ways to be comissioned as a officer in the U.S. military:

1) You can attended a service academy(West Point and etc)

2) You complete ROTC at your local college(ROTC is the largest commissioning source for new officers)

3) You can direct commission(This reserved for nurses, doctors, and lawyers)

Many people who hadn't much experience dealing with military find it confusing.  But, I hope this info helps.  As it's final year of school, I'm already under contract to serve four years as an officer U.S. Air Force.


Run. Run like your head is on fire. Go do it!!!!!!!
Go to europe! This is an easy answer. Try not to think of all the years that money would compound. But I would definately pick the trip.
I almost forgot about OTS.  However, it's super tough to get commission through OTS.  In the Air Force's case, I've been told most of slots are reserved for active duty members of the military who just gotten their degree.

OTS only commisions 10% of the officers in the force.
I'm sure USAF will give you many more chances...

... to live in Europe. But this could be the last time in two decades that you get to do it on your own terms.

Unlike most college students, you're reasonably assured of reliable employment after you graduate (whether you enjoy the working conditions or not). Future cash flow won't be an issue to pay off those loans.

Keep a good journal-- you'll need dates & locations to fill out the questionnaire for your security clearance. Hopefully you won't need to supply any names!

A couple decades ago two midshipmen went to a Rolling Stones festival in Europe, camped out in a stadium with other Stones fans for two days-- until their sleeping bags were completely infused with second-hand smoke from a variety of illegal substances-- and then packed their camping equipment back to the U.S. Their fun ended when they returned from Germany to U.S. Customs at a New Jersey military airlift terminal and met a very excited drug-sniffing dog... so don't let a momentary lapse of judgment screw up your triumphant fall return.

But I don't think the dogs are trained to detect fine lagers.

- More advice: After you're on active duty, if when you buy a used car, your first stop should be at the cop (MP/SP/SF) building on base. Call in advance and make an appointment to have the car checked for drugs. It only takes the dog about a minute and you may save yourself a LOT of grief later during a random check coming into the gate some night.

Is there a story you want to tell us, SamClem?

A shipmate of mine had a similar problem when his car was repaired at the local garage.

Turned out the mechanic needed a little toot every so often to keep going, but he spilled some on the floorboards...
Its a no-brainer GO to europe! The real question is, "Given world affairs; should you come back?"

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