5 Reasons Travel Gets Better as You Get Older
So many travel blogs are by young people for young people. But I want to inspire older people to start travelling or keep traveling and having new adventures here on Get In the Hot Spot and, after reading many travel blogs by young backpackers, I’ve realized that a lot of their travel experiences don’t sound much fun anyway.
When I was young I did some fairly crazy things in order to pursue my love of travel. It’s perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
So many of us older (or advanced travellers as I prefer to call us) may still be stuck in the groove of thinking that travel and adventure are better when you’re young but that’s not the case at all.
One think I’ve learnt after 28 years of nomadic living is that, like a fine wine, travel gets better as you get older. Here’s why:
1. A more relaxed attitude creates a more relaxed experience
When I was younger I felt that if I didn’t travel and see the world right now I’d never be able to. I really thought that life was over once you had kids and settled down into family life.
Thankfully that’s not the case. Now I’m 46 years old with a husband, a business, two teenaged sons and a tweenie but travel’s still a huge part of my life and always will be and I’ve got a more relaxed attitude towards travel now.
When I was younger I took on all manner of jobs to pay for travel and put up with all kinds of bad experiences because I was hellbent on seeing, doing and experiencing as much as I could with the least possible money.
I endured many hellish bus trips. The bus trip from Tel Aviv in Israel to the Sinai Penninsular in Dahab was particularly bad. Let’s not talk about how distressing it is for fertile young women to be deprived of a toilet for way way longer than modern personal hygiene products are designed to cope for.
Another character building experience was a bus trip in Southern Turkey with such terrible roads, hair pin bends and reckless driving that I sat there weeping and alone, totally convinced I was about to die. Those are just two examples from many many uncomfy,dangerous and just plain miserable bus trips.
Other times I couldn’t even afford the bus fare and had to hitchhike instead. That makes for another funny travel story but not an experience I’d wish on any young girl. Spoiler alert! There are perverts around and they prey on young women but not so much older chicks.
Then there are the bedbug, cockroach and rat-infested places you end up staying when you’re young. There’s a funny travel story about that but it’s only funny in retrospect. Not having anywhere to stay at all makes for a funny travel story too but not a relaxing travel experience.
But I digress. The point of this point is that I’ m more relaxed now and I enjoy my travels more. I know I can’t see and do everything and I enjoy the travel experiences that do come my way more.
Maturity and wisdom make you smarter, more balanced, more responsible and more considered. Which all adds up to a more relaxing travel experience.
2. Less hassle
This may be specific to women because when I was young I got flashed at repeatedly. Most often in France, once while snorkeling in Egypt, another time across a very busy highway.
If I wasn’t trying to ignore flashers it felt like there were men hitting on me repeatedly when I traveled. Whether those men are other travelers or locals it gets tiring trying to avoid attention and turning down unwanted advances.
Traveling alone becomes fraught with problems because the sight of a woman alone in a bar or restaurant is so often seen as a sign that she’s looking for a man.
When I was young I took self-defense classes. If forced to be out alone after dark I walked in the middle of the road to lessen the possibility of people jumping out on me and clutched keys in my hand to attack my imaginary attackers back.
Now I’m older, wrinklier and have a wedding ring on my hand I never get hassled. It’s such a welcome relief and means that I can chat openly with men I meet when travelling, just as I would with women without worrying that they’ll get the wrong idea.
For someone who’s spent her life hiding in baggy clothes and doing her utmost to avoid unwanted male attention it’s totally liberating to be old and undesirable and makes travel much easier.
3. Less scams
Travel scams abound and you have to get ripped off a few times before you get wise to them. Once you’re older and wiser you not only recognize scams quickly but you also get a good radar for scammers. So you’re less likely to get ripped off and have bad travel experiences that so often ruin travel.
Scammers tend to avoid older travellers too because they know we’ll be onto them and are less likely to fall for their tricks.
4. No need to party
Despite my checkered past as a party animal it’s not my natural milieu. I do like to go out to see what the party animals are doing but I’m more of an observer than a true party girl.
These days I can admit that I’m anxious, shy and introverted. I’d much prefer to talk to a small group of people, one on one with someone or just have a quiet evening writing my travel journal or reading a good book.
I spent weeks partying on Ios in Greece, at the Oktober Fest in Germany, in Bangkok, at a full moon party in Koh Panghan. I thought that’s what I had to do to be fun, accepted and to fit in with the other travelers.
But I’d have been much happier trawling round ancient ruins, eating local foods or exploring offbeat markets. So I love that no one expects you to want to party when you’re older and that it’s perfectly acceptable when you’re aged 40+ to slope off to your room at 10pm.
You get the best travel photos as dawn and dusk so I want to be up in the morning to make the day last as long as possible when I travel.
5. Confidence to do your own thing
Just as I can now forgo parties when I’m not in the mood I also focus on doing the things I really want to do when I travel. I’d still love to try, see and do everything but I know that life’s short so I have to pick and chose what I do, where I go and who I spend time with.
Now I’m older I’m more discerning and more confident about turning down offers that don’t set my world on fire. Even “free” press trips.
I’m a people pleaser who hates conflict but I’ve gained enough confidence now to speak up for myself, tell people what I do and don’t want to do and make sure that I get what I want. Hopefully without coming across as a stroppy cow.
That means that when I travel I make sure every moment of every day has something to offer me. Whether it’s the solitude to enjoy a special place by myself, the time to just be somewhere without doing anything special or the effort it takes to make sure you get to do something you’ve always dreamed of.
Looking back there was an element of desperation about the way I traveled when I was young and a lot of underlying anxiety. I’m more self-aware and more contented now and that contentment spills over when I travel.
I don’t take anything for granted, I appreciate every moment and find joy in whatever I’ve chosen to do.
So if you’re young and you’re not enjoying travel as much as you thought you would don’t worry. It gets better. And if you’re not so young any more and thinking that travel’s a young people’s game rethink that.
Travel’s great at any age and it just gets better as you get older.
What do you think about travel for older people? Do you think travel’s better when you get older?
PS. You can read the story behind this photo in Planes, Trains and Biker Boys in Wollongong
Want more travel tips and inspiration?
Stay tuned to Get In the Hot Spot – a travel blog for women aged 40+ who want to enjoy new adventures, have more fun and feel fabulous.
Subscribe now by email for free weekly updates.
I was too busy trying to be a grown-up, raising kids, and struggling financially, when I was young. Now I’m looking forward to more freedom. Love your insights, Annabel.
More freedom is another great reason travel gets better when you’re older!
I know travel gets better as you get older! We spent 8 months away last year and have just embarked on another 5 month sojourn a couple of weeks ago. Age is only a number…the fact that you are older should not make any difference. What age does give you is the freedom and the time to travel for as long as you can. We’re all a bit smarter about our travels too. I plan to keep on travelling for as long as I can! See you on the road Annabel!
Love that you enjoy your travels more now you’re older because you’re freer, with more time and more travel smarter :) I’d love to see you on the road!
I totally agree with you. Travel for me, is sooo much better these days at the age of 42.
Like you, I’m no longer on a mission to travel the world in 80 days on a shoestring budget. Awwwh, I couldn’t do that again!
Fortunately with age, there might be a little more money to play with and my expectations of a holiday are very different. Nicer hotels, better restaurants, interactions with older and like minded folk. I can relax and take my time to observe what’s happening around me.
My partner and I are off to Cairns for a week in September, a place we often visit because it is truly another world up there. The climate is steamy and the landscape is lush. There are still so many little pockets of terrain we want to explore.
The town itself has got spunk! Lots a great urbanites have created a very cool culture in Cairns with restaurants, galleries, bars, music…
There are lots of backpackers who base themselves in Cairns to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, it does cater for them but it also provides a lush and exciting lifestyle for the oldies too!
Keep sharing your inspiring thoughts Annabel!
Sounds like you had as mnay crazy travel plans as me when you were younger. Cairns sounds amazing. I have a very cool friend who lives there – time to pay her a visit I think. Enjoy your holiday! I’m sure you will :)
My husband just retired, but even prior to that we managed three months a year travelling. That is enough for Marty but I confess that after being home for a week I am ready to go again! I travelled as a single teenager early 20’s and with Marty till mid twenties. We had a big gap with the child rearing years. Well we only travelled within Australia then. But we have been travelling around the world for a few months each year since 2008 now and loving it. I think the biggest advantage with age is the confidence to do it however we fancy. We havent changed our style much, just replaced backpacks with wheels, and dorm rooms with private rooms or apartments. The one draw back to travel when older is that our parents are getting older too and need us more. That’s life :)
You and Marty have a great history of travel there and so good to hear you’re right back into it after child rearing. I’m in that phase right now and looking forward to more travel when I don’t have to buy and pay for five people!
Even backpackers seem to have bags with wheels these days. I’m not sure anyone does the hard core travel we did in our twenties!
I think life, full stop, gets better as you get older ;)
You’re more comfortable in your own skin to do what you want, and not be swayed by what your peers all think is ‘cool’!!
Instead of following the crowd, you lead the way :D
Yay! That’s great to hear.
There has to be some benefits in getting older! One thing I do know is that I enjoy it more now because I have so much more appreciation of the history and cultures associated with places I visit.
Great addition. I appreciate and am more interested in history now too. I’ve always been interested in culture – maybe that’s part of the reason I love travel – and probably ask better questions now so learn more :)
Love this….as this soon to be 40 year old – OK, I’ll be 40 in 6 months – but anyway, I started off from a prospering space, when I did the international bit for the first time 39 months ago so I avoided some nightmarish scenarios.
Sure we hit a lowpoint or 2 during our travels 3 years back, with the requisite cheap hostile or 2 during a lean 1 month stretch, but before then and for the 3 years since we’ve lived in really nice spots, in some way cool lodging.
Kelli – my fiancee – did the budget bit a few years before we traveled together and she vowed to never do it again. I feel blessed that our prospering online businesses have allowed us to miss out on some of the more agitating travel experiences.
With that being said, I was also taught to be patient by traveling. I was a chill, patient guy to begin with but living in SE Asia for much of my 39 month trip has taught me to take things down 22 gears from my New Jersey/New York City type speed of a zillion RPMs, and to also, be a ton more patient.
Thanks Annabel, I heartily agreed with your take.
Tweeting in a bit.
You’re a spring chicken :) Yes we do get more patient with age too and that helps for a better travel experience. Sounds like you’re having some real adventures.
I cannot agree more that travel gets better as you get older. And the more interesting stories I have read in travel blogs and heard of are from people over 40. I think this is definitely a question of attitude. Young people tend to be in the “competition mode” and do crazy things to feel cool, whereas at a “mature age” we are more aware of our self and we do only things that matters to us and makes us feel good. And you can still challenge yourself in many different ways, without going for bungee jumping :)
Ah that brought back bad memories of trying to save money… when my pal and I went to Ghana from London we went with Air Egypt via Cairo… two flights, an overnight, to save 50 quid…. what were we thinking!!
I completely agree with your premise here. I will travel more and more as I get older (and, crucially, the kids do) and I hope to live overseas again someweher, and will do it all more for me and with more confidence and less alcohol-fuelled mishaps and men troubles!
Annabel, what a BRILLIANT post! Love all the points you make and agree that travel does seem a lot more fun when you describe it! I have noticed that my style of travel has changed as I moved from my 20s to my 30s. No more shared bunk beds, no more putting up with all sorts of crazy inconveniences just to save a buck and definitely no more going along with stupid group decisions just to feel like I fit in. These days I can afford comfortable accommodation, don’t mind spending a few extra dollars if it means I get a good night’s sleep or better quality food and absolutely no more bowing into peer pressure while on the road!
I’m definitely glad we travelled in our mid 20s as opposed to, say straight out of school. That said, I’m not sure we would’ve had some of the fantastic experiences we did if we’d done the same trip when we were in our 40s! There are joys in all types of travel.
Working as a tour guide I get to meet all sorts of travelers. I have found over and over again that older people tend to enjoy travel more.
My best tour of the year was with two older guys in their late 60s. We hiked and canoed. And had a really interesting tour.
So many of the younger people we work with are in the money making mode and it takes them three days or so to be fully present on tour.
I’m certainly looking forward to doing more personal travel in the coming years, and I’m also getting to my mid 40s.
Thanks for this article Annabel. I am 32 but even though I have spent quite a bit of money on some travel I have been a bit disappointed with the experience. I either find it to be overwhelming (feel disconnected in new foreign environment) or pressured/rushed (i.e. so much I need to see in a certain space of time and organising/scheduling activites to optimise the time and because it costs so much). Also usually I am also dealing with other changes/goals in my life (i.e. new job, or saving up for home, transitioning into married life) so I do find it hard to switch of the enjoy the moments overseas. Plus strangely I hate leaving my parents behind. They can’t afford to travel so I feel guilty going without them. I am hoping when I am in my 40s or 50s or 60s or even 70s I will be more settled and open to appreciating the gift of travel!