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

I’m guessing you’re reading this post because there’s a part of you that’s considering packing up your current life and booking a one-way ticket to see the world. Good! You’ve come to the right place!

Whether you’ve only begun mulling over the idea or have put some serious thought into it already, I’ll explain how backpacking in my 30s (or whatever age you are, in fact) is a seriously, seriously good idea.

I’ll let you in on what motivated me to quit my job and begin this awesome journey in just a moment, but first, let’s explore some of the thoughts and feelings you might be having right this second….

How Backpacking In My 30s Changed My Life For The Better: Hiking in Trinidad, Cuba

Have you just come out the other side of a divorce, or a break up?

Do you hate your job and get that feeling of dread when your alarm goes off at 7am?

Are you bored of the town you live in?

Feeling fed up of the daily grind?

Have you lost someone close to you?

Recently suffered from illness that’s made you re-evaluate your life?

Or do you simply want to experience more?

Any of these sound familiar?

Whatever the reason, I can tell you now, you must 100% travel! Do it do it DO IT!!!

4 weeks holiday every year Is. Not. Enough. It doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Backpacking in your thirties, forties or any age is an experience that will change your life forever. It’s already changed my outlook on life and I’ve only just scratched the surface in my travel journey, so to speak.

Why I Quit My London Career At The Age Of 32

It all started with a guy….this may sound like a cliché “I met a guy and he turned my world upside down” scenario, and I’m not going to lie, it actually is! But I couldn’t be more thankful to him.

I met Adam in the summer of 2017 when coincidentally he had just returned from a 6 month stint in South America. On our first date, I remember listening intently to his stories of life as a digital nomad and thinking, “wow that’s incredible. How lucky is he?!” but it never actually crossed my mind that I could do that too. I had a great London career, I lived with one of my best friends and all my mates lived and work in London too. This is where I belonged. This was my path.

Or so I thought.

Just 3 months after dating each other, Adam and I spent 3 weeks in India where we hiked the Himalayas. It was a holiday of many firsts – my first time donning a pair of hiking boots (I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about forking out for these ugly things at the time), my first time staying in a hostel, my first time climbing a mountain and the first time I had ever travelled with a backpack. My friends and family thought I was bonkers!

But I did it. I spent Christmas Day at the peak of the Kauri Pass in the Himalayas. The most magnificent viewpoint providing uninterrupted views of the peaks and valleys in the Himalayas.

I couldn’t stop pinching myself. It was without a doubt the most incredible achievement I’ve ever done.

Whist I returned to London, Adam continued on to Nepal for another 3 weeks where he reached Mount Everest Base Camp.

The day of his return turned out to be a day of BIG decisions. We sat in a little café near my flat in Islington where over breakfast, we decided to move in together. We were both beaming with excitement and love for each other to be taking this huge step together.

But it gets better. Adam then dropped ANOTHER bomb shell….

He asked me if I would go travelling with him!!!!

At this point, I was feeling overwhelmed and no matter how exciting the prospect sounded, there were so many reasons running through my head why I shouldn’t go.

Read More: 7 Thoughts I Had When I Decided To Quit My Job & Travel In My Thirties (And Why They’re A Load Of Rubbish)

But there was one fundamental reason to go that I couldn’t ignore.

What if I didn’t go?

My head was full of all the awesome experiences I‘d be missing out on. What was the alternative? To stay in London and carry on with my 9-5? Errrr, HELL NO!

So the rest is history, we spent the next few months planning how we were going to make this work, including how we would earn money and making all the necessary preparations to pack up our London life.

Looking back, taking the plunge was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Here’s Some Of The Reasons How Travelling Has Changed My Life For The Better

1. I Spend My “Lunch Break” Sunbathing And Swimming In The Ocean

Seriously. It’s. AMAZING.

Being a digital nomad means my office can be anywhere in the world. Most of the time, my workplace is a beach café overlooking the ocean. I still can’t believe I get to do this! It’s a complete game changer for my whole mentality, health and happiness.

I’ll be writing another post soon about ways how I earn money through being a digital nomad and ways in which you can earn money whilst travelling too. In the meantime, let these thoughts settle on you for now… 

Goodbye London rush hour commute, being sardined on a sweaty tube.

Goodbye sitting at the same desk every single day.

Goodbye clock watching waiting for 5.30pm.

Goodbye eating the same Pret A Manger salads for lunch.

Goodbye working for the same clients, doing the same job.

2. It Made Me Re-Evaluate What’s Really In Important In Life

What do you actually want to achieve from life? Like really. Spend some time really thinking about this.

Some people think that by making the choice to go backpacking in my 30s, I’ve forfeited having a good career, a house and a family. That’s simply NOT TRUE!

First of all, you can still have a good career and travel.

And secondly, what’s the rush? I’m simply postponing everything else.

There are 195 countries in the world and we’re on this planet for say, 80 years, if we’re lucky. How many of those years will you be in exactly the same place doing exactly the same thing?

I have school friends on Facebook who have lived in the same village all their lives. It blows my mind.

Yes, owning a house is fantastic and a huge achievement. Not many people, especially Londoners get to be homeowners. And yes, starting a family is a beautiful thing but is that all you’re destined for?

3. I’m Less Materialistic

I’m a blow-dry-loving, Christian-Louboutin-wearing, Gucci-bag-holding kind of girl. I’m that girl, and I still am.

Just because I’ve gone backpacking in my 30s doesn’t mean I’ve turned into a hippy. I still have all that stuff in storage back in London, and I still yearn to shop in Zara and Topshop sometimes!

Having said that, I have learnt not to use material objects as a marker for my happiness.

Nowadays when Adam and I have a really successful week, instead of running out to buy something, we treat ourselves to a romantic meal so we can spend quality time together, or we book a tour we’ve wanted to do but hadn’t yet because it was quite pricey.

Alternatively, we use the money to try our hand at a new skill such as a cooking class, or salsa lessons. Sometimes, I might even treat myself to an extra yoga class that week because having some “me” time, especially when travelling as a couple, is super important (and also a great way to make new friends).

So I’ve learnt to feed my soul with experiences rather than objects, and this makes me happier than any Gucci bag.

4. It’s Pushed Me Out Of My Comfort Zone

I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I’m independent. In London, I made my own money, paid my own rent and I’d even happily go out for dinner on my own or to the cinema. There wasn’t much I felt I couldn’t do on my own.

In contrast, being thrown into unfamiliar cultures where I don’t speak the language or know anyone else apart from Adam was tough for me. I found myself relying on Adam more, I’d shy away from simple things like speaking to the waiter and I felt like my independence was slipping away from me.

Eventually I realised I had to get a grip.

Not everything in life is easy but equally, things are never as bad as you think they are.

So what did I do?

I started to learn Spanish so I could speak to people and at least order food on a very basic level.

I began going out during the day on my own which led to all sorts of little internal challenges, such as riding a bicycle on the roads which I haven’t done since I was 12 years old.

But above all, I learnt that smiling and saying hello is all you need to do to start a conversation and make new friends.

Being a bit of an introvert, I find making new friends difficult and daunting. I get lost in big groups and worried that other girls travelling wouldn’t be like me. But if you don’t talk to people, how will you know?

Frida on hammock Holbox Mexico

5. It’s Spurred Me On To Learn Another Language

When Adam came back from his last stint in South America, he hated the fact that there was a language barrier, which he felt, meant he missed out a lot on opportunities to learn about the culture through lack of communication. He enrolled himself into a Spanish course and urged me to start listening to podcasts to learn the language too.

I’ll be honest, I’m terrible with languages. I’m half Thai and every time I come back from Thailand I swear I’m going to learn the language. But then life gets busy, I get lazy and it never happens.

I also have the worst memory, which makes learning a language tough. However, it’s naïve to assume that people can speak English. There are 21 countries in the world that speak Spanish, predominantly found in Central and South America. Now is the time to bite the bullet and learn!

I’m still very much a beginner, but I’m slowly learning bit by bit. It’s incredible to see how much people appreciate you just trying to speak their language. Even if I get it totally wrong!

To spur me on, I keep thinking that if I can actually crack this language malarkey, how great will it be that I can speak another language?!

6. I’m More Focussed

As a digital nomad, I work the hours that suit me and my client. This could mean some days I start at 11am and sometimes I finish at 10pm, it’s entirely up to me.

The beauty of this is that I’ve become even more productive and efficient with my time. Since my working day is no longer dictated by certain working hours, this means that if I’m struggling with a particular project, I can stop and prioritise a different project, or take a break entirely. As long as you get the work done for your client, it doesn’t matter when you do it.

On top of this, the quicker I finish my working day, the more time I have to do something else, such as work on my blog, or enjoy happy hour on the beach! It motivates me to focus so much more and get the best use out of my time.

7. I’ve Learnt To Give Back & Appreciate the Bigger Picture

From living and travelling in less developed countries than I’ve been accustomed to growing up in the UK, Adam and I appreciate how we, as tourists, can contribute to an economy and we would often feel an urge to do something useful to give back to a community if we could.

Whether that is simply walking along the beach and collecting up the plastic, volunteering at an animal shelter, taking the time to teach a little kid some English or even stocking up on items that you know aren’t readily available in a certain country so you can gift them to families and friends you meet.

I feel this awareness has come about twofold:

  1. As a direct result of backpacking in my 30s compared to if I had backpacked in my 20s, and;
  2. By travelling slowly.

If I had backpacked in my 20s, my goal would be to travel on what little money I had saved for as long as possible. This would mean hopping from place to place grabbing a taster of life at each destination, and perhaps this would mean I didn’t fully see what was going on past enjoying myself.

Now in my 30s, Adam and I have decided to try to commit to the slow travel way of life. We usually aim to create a base somewhere for at least a month which means we get to immerse ourselves in a community. Through experiencing cultures first hand, we’ve become more aware of how the community works and have begun to recognise if there are even little things we can do to help.

I personally didn’t decide to go backpacking in my 30s in search of myself, I went because I didn’t want to look back on my life and wonder why I hadn’t seen this beautiful world.

So tell me what you think in the comments box below! If my rambling on has even slightly tipped the scales from dreaming to planning your backpacking adventure, I’ll feel so happy that I’ve achieved something.

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