25 Things Every Backpacker in their 30s will Understand

Sitting in the pub and reminiscing about that year that you took off to backpack around Asia, you suddenly realize that perhaps you would like to relive those heady months. Then you remember those awful meals.  You remember those back breaking bus rides. You remember those nights of broken sleep as drunken dorm mates performed all night. Suddenly the whole exercise doesn’t seem quite so enticing but then the idea that you are getting old seems less enticing, and your decision is made; you are going to do it again. When you were 20 nothing daunted you.  Any travel challenge was met head on and seen as an adventure, not as a trial. Well now you are older and wiser so for a few weeks, you are going to relive your twenties!

On your return, you are back in the pub, and a mate asks how different was this trip to the first. Thinking back there are many things that were different, and with a wry smile on your face, you start to recall.

25 Things Every Backpacker in their 30s will Understand

1. All night parties and booze cruises did not attract you once. Thrilled to have packed a travel kettle, you rather spent a quiet evening with a cup of tea.

Thailand party

2. Those street meals may have been fun at 20, but now you are a little more discerning.  Spending a few extra pennies to eat at a better class of establishment was no imposition.

3. Backpacker dorms were not on your list of accommodation options. Never again would you put up with a lumpy mattress and broken nights of sleep to save a couple of dollars.

4. Those rock hard seats on an overnight bus never saw your pampered behind. Sleeper compartments on the train or local airlines are the way to travel.

5. Dodging the traffic in a tuk-tuk will never happen again. You know that your guardian angel used up all their favors when you were 20. Now taxis with doors and a roll cage see you to your destination. 

6. Not one of the tattoo parlors held any allure for you. Deep and meaningful life messages stayed right where they were, printed on a poster and not inked onto your shoulder. 

Thai Language Tattoo

7. Rather than suffer the inane chit-chat of your fellow travelers, you simply draw on your headphones and lose yourself in the music of the 80’s. Backpacking Bores leave you unimpressed. You feel no need to find out who everyone is, where they have come from and how long they have been traveling. You also find spotting the aggressive, bragging type of traveler much easier and turning the volume up does not embarrass you.

8. This trip is not underpinned with the need to find yourself. You tried that when you were 20, and as you are still lost, it obviously did not work! 

9. You picked up a magazine and found a list of the top ten places to visit in the country you were in. Taking a pencil, it was satisfying to cross them all off and know you have seen them all.

10. You realize that the backpack you chose this time around has wheels on it. No more dragging 65 liters around on a shoulder (you know your back would not cope!) you wheel it next to you. 

11. You were booked on a trek that left at daybreak, and instead of sliding into the party directly from a rave, you went to bed at midnight and woke up refreshed. 

12. Knowing that you are diving the next day you didn’t go partying the night before. No trying to equalize ears with a pounding hangover and a parrot cage mouth.

13. When you packed up on the beach and found your flip-flops missing you didn’t choose to walk around barefoot.  Instead, you stopped at the nearest stall and bought another pair.

14. You were not chased out of your room at the hostel once. In fact, several times you beat everyone out and you were bright-eyed and ready to face the day.

15. you did not feel the need to read Elizabeth Gordon’s book, Eat Pray Love, nor Alex Garland’s book The Beach nor Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. You look after your own spiritual enlightenment and do not look to books for it.

16. Sitting on the beach listening to the music does not make you want to have lessons to play the guitar, ukulele or any other instrument. You had realized that your mother was right when she said you were tone deaf.

17. You have realized that there is more to life than standing on the street haggling over the price of a sarong. If you want the sarong, pay the vendor his price and move on to more interesting things. The extra couple of bucks will not break the bank.

18. When looking for a place to stay you take care to check and see if it has a bar or a happy hour or they advertise drinking games. You are long past the stage of wanting to stay at a party hostel and get no sleep or wake up with a thumping hangover. The idea of staying in one is as appealing as recovering from malaria.

19. Watching a troupe of performers do the fire dance is mesmerizing. Remembering how painful it was recovering from the burns inflicted by the flaming batons put paid to any idea of joining in. Learning to fire dance is not on your bucket list. 

Fire Dance

20. Even though there was no place for your first aid kit, sleeping bag liner, and survival blanket in your backpack, you really enjoyed yourself. You are still alive, not suffering any injuries and you had an amazing time.

21. It was valuable for me to break out of my daily routine. The nine to five grind had got to me and to break out and do something out of the ordinary restored my zest for life. I had a chance to think about my life and make decisions on what to change. To make more time for my hobbies and get back to playing sport.

22. I found a new appreciation for the cultural side of the countries I visited. I enjoyed the museums, art galleries, and cultural tours. To be honest, I figured I did not need the party till dawn side of life though I thoroughly enjoyed attending beach parties and street parties but found I could leave early with no regrets.

23. My family did not worry about me quite so much. By now they realize that I can look after myself and I don’t need to spend every second afternoon checking in via Skype.

24. I found I was able to deal with difficult situations far better than my 20-year-old self. I am less volatile and far more empathetic, so traveling was more peaceful than the first time around.

25. I am happy to once again take risks. I seemed to have lost the ability to go out on a limb but having taken on the world with just my backpack (on wheels!), I find that taking a risk is not as frightening as it was a few months ago.

All in all, I am very happy that I took off and left everything behind for a few months. It gave me an opportunity to get out, challenge myself, get used to being on my own again and to appreciate my own company. To anyone thinking of backpacking at 30, I would advise, go for it!  You won’t regret it.

The travel risks for backpacking at 30 are no different to those you faced at 20.  Carefully examine your travel insurance and make sure it will cover all that you want to do.  If you do intend to hire a motorcycle or do a bungee jump, make certain that the insurance covers these types of activities. Carrying a little extra insurance for medical care will not hurt either. Check out our interactive travel insurance platform for quotations for your next trip.