Is travel age-appropriate?

by Annie on May 13, 2012

Today L and I were talking about travel and where we stand; our place in the world at this point in time. The visa talk is one that we have often, as we sit stuck between knowing what we can and can’t choose next. As I said in a previous post, I want to settle down a bit, and I’m okay with that because I know that I’ll never stop traveling. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t days that I feel envious and wonder if I’m hanging up my backpack prematurely. Australia is an infamous backpacker destination, where young gap years and thrill-seekers run around the East Coast crowding into backpacker bars and doing all they can to sleep two to a bed in giant dorm rooms. To be honest, I’ve seen the backpacker trail, although I didn’t do it quite by the standards (if you are even allowed to call them that) but I don’t have a huge desire to see those places again. The more I talked about the dilemma of the words ‘traveler’, and ‘backpacker’ the more I realized that I no longer believed that a dilemma existed.

Annie in Balmain - Sydney, Australia

When I think about the possibility of sticking around Sydney and working in my office job for another few years, the only thing that makes me seize up a tiny bit on the inside is that I might loose the freedom of a working holiday traveler. If my travels become spread along a string of annual leave days, suddenly I loose the freedom of choosing where I go and for how long when I’m already there. I may have to meticulously plan my holidays and I will loose the freedom to ever be ‘free’ as a traveler in this country again, as I’m here now. It sounds scary, and it did scare me for a while. And then I started telling L about my fears and realized that the feeling of fear was not accompanying the word fear.

Local Beers @ Sydney Opera House

Would you rather this be your local or a quick stop on your way through town?

I have no trips left that I feel like need to be done in a certain way, I know that the way I do them, is the way they were meant to be done. I never really felt limited by age, I can just as easily see myself as a 30-something toting a backpack through SE Asia as I can as a 20-something. I can just as easily walk by the backpacker bars in my 30s as I would in my 20s. And I think I’m quite capable of making friends of all ages with like-minded people and travelers.

I have a lot of trips left that I want to take, some of them I hope will take place over extended periods of time, but I no longer see any of them as trips that need to fit into certain years of my life, as long as they are within my life’s years, whatever those happen to be.

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  • Michael Hodson

    40something backpacker here…. it’s possible, for sure. Tougher (especially for a guy), but nothing at all to fear about being a backpacker in your 30s. There are tons of those.

  • Kyle

    I honestly think that backpacking as somebody older could be even more fun. You have more appreciation for life and more confidence to do what you want to do…

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    You are certainly never too old to travel! I feel you with your dilemma about staying in Oz or continuing to travel with the freedom you currently have. It’s a really hard decision. I thought about sticking in Oz and working towards residency or and I still think about doing it in NZ, but every time I immediately think, I’m not ready. I’m not ready to invest the time, but it’s different for everyone. You could stay now and travel later, travel now and stay later. Either way, I think as long as you know you’ll always travel, you’ll have the best of both worlds in time!

  • Jeremy Branham

    Age definitely isn’t the issue.  As Michael said, look at how old he is and he’s still doing it! :)

    Even in my late 30s, I take many trips and still travel with the backpack.  As you get older, things do change – preferences, style, interests, and dreams.  There is nothing wrong with any of that.  As I am learning, travel is an attitude and a state of mind.  You don’t have to go far, always explore multiple countries or destinations for months at a time, or be a round the world traveler to have awesome travel experiences.

  • Leslie (Downtown Traveler)

    We quit our corporate jobs to backpack around the work in our late 20s. There’s definitely no age limit on travel– although most of the travelers we met in hostels were 18! Now that I’m older (and part of a couple), I prefer to stay in private rooms at a hostel or in small pousadas. I do think the hostel partying/dorm room scene is one you grow out of!

  • Erica

    After being in Tokyo for 3 years (though on and off), I’ve come to realize that I appreciate being able to live somewhere so I can really get to know it- there are many things that I hear tourists say about Japan that make me think “yeah, that’s totally not how it really is” and then wonder if it ever bothers them that they don’t know the ‘real’ Japan/Tokyo that I know. While that means that the honeymoon period is over for me and this city, I love it a little more because I love it despite all the grime that I’ve found through our 3 year love-hate relationship :) 

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  • Samuel & Audrey

    I think travel transcends age barriers that exist in other professions or pursuits.  I’ve met some of the most energetic backpackers who were over 70.  It’s inspiring to me to see people of all ages going out and exploring the world.

  • Audrey Bergner

    I used to think that backpacking and indefinite travel was something that you could only do when you had the freedom of your 20s, but as I’ve gotten older I have realized that age has nothing to do with having the freedom to explore. :)

  • Tom

    You’re never too old to travel! Like so many other travel bloggers, I plan to be travelling for a long time. Do I want to settle down at some point? You bet? Have kids? Yep! It doesn’t mean we can’t travel though, it should never mean that!

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