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Why Backpacking in Your 30s Kicks Your 20 Year Old Ass

You Have More Money

With at least 10 years employment under your belt, it’s safe to say you’re going to be more financially savvy in your thirties than your 20 year old younger self. It’s likely you’ve built a good career and earn a decent salary that allows you to squirrel away a tidy pot of money every month. Am I right?

So what does this mean for the traveller burning inside you?

On the whole, you’ll benefit from a better quality of life when travelling. For example:

  • In a hostel, you can afford to stay in a private room with ensuite instead of a shared dorm.
  • You could pass on the whole hostel experience entirely and rent an Airbnb.
  • You can enjoy tailored or private excursions.
  • If it’s quicker to catch a flight instead of an overnight bus, you can do that.
  • Not all your meals have to come from the local street vendor or cheap eat. If you like, you can dine in nice restaurants and go to that fancy bar with the best rooftop views over the city.

Partying Your Way Through Every Country Is No Longer Appealing

I’m pretty sure I surpassed my quota of Vodka Red Bulls and Jägarbombs whilst at university.

“Who’s up for a bucket full of cheap alcohol?” Nah, I’m fine thanks. 

Those days of party, party, party every night are lonnnng gone and I’m happy with that. Give me Game of Thrones, a cup of tea and an early night any day. Who’s with me?

But in all seriousness, when you’re travelling it’s amazing to feel hangover-free, energised and exhilarated each day by what a country has to offer.

Nothing beats waking up early to watch the sunrise over the mountains, catching the first boat to go scuba diving or beating the midday crowds and wandering a city when it’s still sleepy and quiet.

Adam and I often have a little laugh to ourselves when we spot the group of 20 year olds who are holed up in another cheap bar nursing their hangovers with a hair of the dog. We’re 30, we’re hangover free and we’re smug!

Backpacking in your thirties - Mountain views in Viñales Cuba

You Have Life Experience On Your Side

In our thirties, we take for granted the common sense we develop. Little things that seem obvious to us now are not factors that our younger 20 year old self would consider.

I padlock my backpack every time I go out and I don’t walk around with my phone in my hand. I turn down the offer of cheap drugs from the guy on the street and I certainly don’t leave my drink unattended in a bar whilst I go to the bathroom.

So obvious, right?

That’s because you’re in your thirties, my friend.

Your Friends Can Afford To Fly Out To Meet You

Now that I’m in my thirties, my tight knit group of friends in London have well established and brilliant jobs – I’m proud to say my friends have worked up the career ladder and have become lawyers, fashion designers, talent agents, brand managers and interior designers. This means that when I’m craving a bit of girl time (feel my pain here – I’m living and travelling with a boy 24/7), one of my friends will fly out wherever I am in the world for a week’s holiday.

How amazing is that!!!!

This means the bouts of homesickness are kept to a manageable level (because yes, there will be times when this hits you) and my mates get to experience an awesome travel destination that they might not have considered.

And they get to see me, which is doubly awesome.

You Have The Skills To Work Whilst Travelling

Pretty much any job you’ve had back home can translate into transferable skills when you travel. If you do a little research, the job possibilities for working abroad are endless.

Here are just a few that might spark some interest:

Are you a Teacher? Teach online, offer private tutoring.

Are you a Creative Designer? Help start-ups through logo design, packaging design, presentations, brand identity.

Are you an Accountant? Become a freelance bookkeeper or help people with spreadsheets and basic finances.

Are you a Photographer? Sell your photos, create an online course for newbie photographers.

Are you a Hospitality pro? Work on a cruise ship, for a hostel or hotel.

Are you Bilingual? There’s a ton of translation jobs out there or editorial work.

Do you still think you’ve got zero skills? Although I’m sure you don’t, there’s jobs for you too – house sitter, au pair, work in a hostel, bar tender, promoter. 

As you can see, there are countless opportunities out there for you. Do a deep dive of your skills and strengths and then start thinking outside of the box.

You Have The Confidence To Say No

In your twenties you constantly want to feel included, accepted and liked and in your efforts to be “one of the gang” you may find yourself swept up in round two of boozefest and miss out on that hike you really wanted to do the next day.

In your thirties, you have the confidence to know what you like and what you don’t like and you’re happy to stick by that even if that means passing up on activities. You care less about what others think and so you’re happy to stick to your two beers and then call it a night.

No FOMO, no peer pressure.

Backpacking in your thirties - Drinks-at-Nomade-Hotel,-Tulum-Mexico

You Really Are Wiser

When it comes to risk taking, I’m cautious but that doesn’t mean I pass on the fun parade. I simply take calculated risks.

If I want to go sky diving, I don’t rock up to the first guy standing on the street offering me the cheapest price. I do a bit of research, take a look at their equipment, scope out if they seem safety conscious. No one wants a really cool chilled dude taking you skydiving. You want someone who’s switched on and knows his stuff.

Similarly, I always check the government tourist information before heading to a new country and cross-check this information with travellers who have first-hand experience. There’s been times when Adam and I have weighed up the risks of a country that’s experiencing a bout of political unrest, violent crime or kidnapping, and questioned whether it’s worth the visit if we’ll feel constantly on edge.

Spending Time On Your Own Doesn’t Freak You Out

When you’re in your thirties and you’re working hard, networking in the evenings, spending your Sunday at yet another baby shower, going to family get-togethers and meeting up with friends down the pub, you learn to really cherish those snippets of alone time you get.

Back at home, I would indulge in quality “me” time by going out to a restaurant for lunch on my own, treating myself to a manicure or watch a movie I knew my boyfriend would snooze through.

The same applies when travelling.

You’ll happily pass up a group tour to get lost in a good book on the beach.

Or opt to spend an extra £3 on dinner at that nicer restaurant up the road that doesn’t look like it comes with a side of food poisoning.

Self-love isn’t so high on the priority list for your younger twenty-year-old-self but these days we appreciate our bodies and our minds and take active steps to nourish them.


Are you already on Skyscanner booking a ticket to anywhere but home? Or still not totally convinced? That’s ok too! 

Read: How Backpacking In My 30s Changed My Life For The Better


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