I’ve traveled the globe and experienced a lot. But when I turned 30, I felt a little self conscious about solo traveling which was a feeling I never used to have. I thought people would look at me differently me since I was traveling solo. There were times when I even got stopped at immigration with a weird look when I told them I was just on vacation traveling solo. “Just by yourself?” was a fairly typical question as if I was doing something illegal.
But as I’ve continued by solo travels, I think it’s only gotten better since turning 30. Why? Here are 7 reasons why I feel my travels have gotten better since getting older.
- I have money
- You can budget
- Not searching for a deeper meaning
- Appreciate time off work
- Know your likes and dislike
- You’re still young (at heart)
- Like nice things
I have money
I’ve been working steadily since high school, worked through college, and have been working since getting my degree. Am I Richie Rich rich? No. But do I have a little money tucked away? Yes. That means I’m not living like a starving student anymore. I don’t eat ramen everyday. I don’t need to live with ten people to make rent.
Being older with a steady job means I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. This means I don’t have to stay in hostels, take crowded public buses, or backpack and hitchhike to get from one destination to another. There’s nothing wrong if you want to do that. A lot of people enjoy staying at hostels and feel like that’s the only way to travel. That’s fine. My point is that I don’t HAVE to travel that way.
I choose to stay in hotels because I like hotels. I like the privacy, comfort, and ease. I enjoy having a comfortable bed, air conditioning, fast internet, and whatever else I need when I travel. I like having a desk so I can work when I need to. I like being able to watch tv when I want. All the things I couldn’t afford when I traveled when I was younger is now mostly attainable. Now that I’m in my 30s, I can afford to stay in slightly nicer places. When I was in my 20s, it would have been a struggle to think I could travel this way.
This isn’t just hostels but also with transportation. I will almost always travel via public transport but for long distances or some instances where I know it’s going to be packed and uncomfortable, I’ll just rent a car to drive myself or pay for a driver for the day. Does it cost more than the super low cost alternative of public buses? Absolutely. But do I want to be stuck in a crowded bus that may have ten too many people and not completely safe? Absolutely not. So is private transportation well worth the extra expense? You bet.
Transportation isn’t just limited to buses but also to hitchhiking/backpacking as well. In some countries, trains don’t connect major cities so the only way to get around is via bus or air. In my younger years, I would have had to suck it up and endured the long bus ride. Now, my first thought is to see if there are any commercial flights that could get me there faster. It isn’t just about money but also about time now. I only have so many days off from work so I have to maximize the time I have. Flights obviously cost more but it’s faster and way more comfortable. That’s an expense I can afford now that I’m older.
You know how to budget
When I was younger, payday couldn’t come fast enough. That meant I had money to spend that night. I could go out with my friends, take my girlfriend out on a nice date, or buy something I’d been eyeing for a while. The idea of budgeting didn’t cross my mind and I just spent my money as quickly as it came in. When I traveled, I tried to stick to a budget but inevitably, something would come up and the credit cards weren’t far away to come to my rescue.
Now, I not only know what a budget is but know how to stick to it. I’m looking at ways to save money by traveling in the off season, not during popular times like spring break. I know how much I have to spend going into a trip and it isn’t a surprise when I get back. If I can’t afford something, I know going in that I won’t buy anything or just won’t go in at all to avoid temptation.
As we get older, budgeting is just a way of life so it comes more naturally to us. When I was younger, it seems like I could always make ends meet because my expenses were so low. Splitting bills helped but I also didn’t have to worry about a mortgage, health insurance, or property taxes. Budgeting for those monthly, big ticket expenses forces us to be more mature in our budgeting and we understand the importance of keeping and sticking to a budget.
That knowledge goes a long way when we travel because we know our limits. We know how to have a good time but we also know what our limits are when we travel. That means we know how to have fun during our trip but avoid money disaster when we get back.
You’re not searching for a “deeper meaning”
I’m not referring to a midlife crisis here. I’m not referring to some major life changing event that occurred in your life that made you question everything. I’m referring to traveling for the enjoyment of traveling and why we travel in general.
As we get older, we know who we are as a person. We know what’s important to us. If you enjoy hiking, you’re doing it because you like the outdoors, not to find yourself. This isn’t about trying to find the meaning of life but is about doing what we enjoy for the sake of enjoyment.
Traveling for us isn’t about finding a higher calling or trying to understand our path through life. We have a life. It may not be perfect but it is a life. We might find the meaning of life while traveling. But we don’t go traveling to FIND the meaning of life. It isn’t a quest we need to finish or a cause to find some deeper meaning. If you happen to stumble across some enlightenment, that’s great. But that isn’t the reason behind our travels.
Time off work is meaningful
Working nine to five. Wake up, clock in, clock out, go to sleep, repeat. Exciting stuff eh? Is it any wonder why people just get fed up with their workplace after a while? We spend more time at the office than we do with our friends and family. Think about it, we spend 8 hours at work and another hour getting to and from work. That’s a full 10 hours…and we get 4-7 hours at home with those we actually care about. Some of us (myself included) even take work home, or worse (again guilty) work when we’re on vacation or on the weekends.
I try not to check work emails but I’ve done it for so long it’s now second nature. That just isn’t healthy. It isn’t natural. But we don’t want to look like we’re lazy in front of our boss so we accumulate the measly number of vacation days a year and do nothing with them. But Americans are notorious for not making use of their vacation days. Now, as an older millennial, I love taking time off. But that isn’t the norm.
Not having to worry about emails, phone calls, and meetings is great. Not having to go into the office is great. I actually feel more productive when I’m not in the office because I’m less distracted. But when I’m in the office, the desire to be efficient isn’t nearly as strong as the urge to just get through the day.
When I do take a vacation, I try to enjoy it as much as I can. And I try to enjoy everything about it. Not just the destination but the journey as well. The feeling of “at least I’m not in the office” is a great feeling. I appreciate my time off because it gives me a chance to recharge my batteries but also appreciate the fact that there’s more to life than just the daily monotony of work, sleep, repeat.
By finally taking advantage of vacation days, we can appreciate what we have and understand what’s important in our life. Maybe we start working to live rather than living to work. I know as soon as I get back from a trip, my mind immediately starts brainstorming for the next trip. That gives me a goal to work toward. Something to attain. A reason to get up every morning and work through the monotony so I can save enough money to go on vacation. I love taking vacations because I get so much more out of them than just time away from the office. It reminds me of what I is meaningful to me.
You know your likes and dislikes
When we’re younger, we may have gone along with the crowd to something even though we had no interest in it. We did it because we didn’t want to be the odd one out and bring down the vibe of the group. But now, I just don’t care about what others think and I’ll do what I want if I enjoy it.
As we get older, we know what we like and dislike. We don’t have to feel pressured into doing things we don’t enjoy. It’s more about going on vacation to places to do things we enjoy. If that means going fishing on a quiet lake, that’s fine. If that’s climbing Everest, well good luck and have fun. It’s about what you, the traveler, wants not about what everyone thinks you should enjoy or like.
By traveling solo, we don’t have to compromise. But by doing it when we’re over 30, we really know what we like because we’ve had time to mature. It might not be about having a wild weekend in Ibiza, Vegas, or Amsterdam anymore. It might be about relaxing on a beach, going river rafting, or skiing the alps. It’s up to you and no one needs to tell you what you should do. Your likes are all the matter and you have the resources and confidence to do it.
You’re still young at heart
Just because we’re not in our 20s anymore doesn’t mean we have one foot in the grave. We can do everything we used to do in our 20s, we just need a few more breaks. There is nothing we can’t do or experience. If you want to go skydiving, you can fall out of a plane now just as easily as you did when you were 25.
I remember when I was climbing up to Huayana Picchu while at Machu Picchu. This climb is tough. In many parts you’re bear crawling up the stairs because it’s so steep. Add in the heat and humidity and I seriously didn’t know if I was fit enough to do it especially when I was surrounded by all the twenty somethings just running up the stairs like it was a race. As I was climbing up, I saw an elderly man (maybe in his 70s) who was coming down from the mountain after reaching the summit. And you know what? He was blind. Of course he had a guide there to help him navigate the trail but this man climbed all the way to the top and joked with everyone on the way down saying “the view is great!”. That might be something I’ll never forget because I knew if he could do it, I certainly couldn’t use being 35 as an excuse.
Being older isn’t a drawback to anything. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it shouldn’t prevent you from doing things. Age is literally just a number.
You’re better at figuring things out
Well with age and experience comes knowledge. By being older, we get to use the things we’ve learned over the years to our advantage. We know what’s important when we travel and what isn’t. Safety is important. Finding that perfect Instagram photo? Not so much.
Our knowledge also comes in the form of being able to work out the problems or situations that arise. Instead of panicking when things go sideways, we’re better prepared mentally to deal with it since we’ve probably been through it or seen it before. Missing bags, delayed flights, illness are all issues we can encounter. But since we’re older, we know how to approach the situation and deal with it.
We also know how to avoid scams and other sketchy situations. Anyone who has traveled for any amount of time has been scammed. It just happens and we’ve all been victim to a scam or two. If you think you haven’t been scammed, you haven’t learned anything. But most of us have learned and we know how to avoid them.
Knowing how to deal with problems and how to avoid scams are just a few examples of how being older is an asset to traveling.
Like the nicer things
Let’s face it. As we get older and have a little more stability in our lives, we grow accustomed to certain standards. I don’t have any problems admitting the fact that I like nicer things. It might be nicer accommodations, airline seats, or even food. I know I really enjoy eating street food more than anything but I also know that I like to eat a great meal especially if I have an opportunity to eat a renowned restaurant.
Liking nicer things isn’t a crime. Being able to afford nicer things is a byproduct of hard work. When we’re over 30, we’ve more than likely been working at a company for a bit, put in our time, and climbed the corporate ladder to some extent. With that comes success and the ability to like nice things. I don’t think there’s anything apologize for here. You’ve worked hard. Enjoy it in any way you want.
Traveling at any age is great. But let’s not think that since we’re not in our 20s anymore that we can’t enjoy it as much. In many ways, 30 is just the starting point of better trips with even better trips to come. We have more disposable income, more appreciation for travel, and have more knowledge of how things work. Sure, we may not have as much energy or be able to party and drink like we were in college, but that doesn’t mean can’t have fun. We just have fun differently and more responsibly now.