As we grow older, many things change. Our bodies, our opinions, our level of patience, our health, our hair colour, and pretty much every aspect of our being – both mental and physical – morphs and transforms.
Travel is very much susceptible to these same changes and many people experience a shift in their travel style, mentality and overall world view as they grow older. We noticed a huge change in our travels as we entered our 30s, some of which we were very surprised about…
1. Don’t Bargain As Hard
At the age of 24, I bartered so hard with shop owners during our first backpacking trip that I’d end up spending twenty minutes haggling (arguing?) just to save 50 cents.
At 31, this is now my thought process:
“I definitely want a good deal, but that 20 minutes is worth more than 50 cents to me, and this man will be able to buy bread for his family with that money”.
2. Travel Slower
Gone are the days of an overnight bus ride to arrive at a town early in the morning, only to visit it for 12 hours before hopping on another 15 hour bus journey.
We’ve now slowed down our travels – perferring to smell the roses and get under the skin of the destinations we visit, rather than just blazing through.
3. Less Partying
Hangovers now last 2 – 3 days! We used to party all night (although not often), but now a full moon party consists of us staying out until we can see the moon, before going home to bed.
These days, party nights seem to mean having a few beers or glasses of wine with good company, and then going to bed by midnight. And night’s out happen once every couple of weeks.
4. Nicer Hotels
We still love hostels and we spend most of your time in them, but we now treat ourselves to a nice room every once in a while.
5. More of an Interest in Culture
We always loved experiencing different cultures, but now we are looking for a personal connection and a better understanding of the places we visit.
We question local people more about their life and their customs and we attempt to find a level of empathy with their situation by trying to live it, or at least experience it for a fleeting moment.
6. A Love For History
Beaches and tree bars were the most interesting part of travel once, but suddenly, learning about the baroque architecture of Havana, the ancient ruins of Mexico, and the plantations of the Caribbean is what really excites us.
7. The Urge To Live Somewhere
We’ve noticed over the past couple of years that we have an urge (desire) for a home base, or at least a temporary one. We’re now interested in living in an apartment for a month, or more, in between our travels.
8. A Bigger Backpack
This may be another product of our ever-travelling lifestyle, but we no longer felt the need to travel ultralight. I find more value in having a change of clothes and a secure backpack than I do in keeping it carry-on sized.
And, let’s be honest, we carry our entire lives on our backs. It’s inevitable that we’re going to want some nice clothing and practical items from time to time!
9. Thinking About Safety
We used to travel a little bit on the wreckless side – visiting Lamu in Kenya while foreigners were frequently being kidnapped from the island, heading to Egypt during the revolution and staying at a hotel in the central square of Tetouan, Morocco during a town riot.
Back in the day, we would ride on the roofs of buses, get into overloaded boats, and ride motorbikes without helmets.
These days, we’re more careful of our belongings, and our well-being – if there’s a choice!
10. Missing Family More
This is probably another result of permanent travel, but now that we’ve been on the road for 7+ years, we’re missing our family more and more.
At first it was just a trip, we’d be home. But now that our life is lived abroad and on the go, we make more of an effort to see our families (and they make more of an effort too).
11. Controlling Hunger
I’d say most of our arguments on our first trips came because we were hungry. Really, really hungry. When you’re on a super-tight budget, you don’t really have extra money for snacks and, in some cases, lunch.
We used to go many hours without eating sometimes due to long bus / train journeys that we were ill-prepared for, or because we didn’t want to “go over budget” for the day.
These days, food is a priority.
12. Interest in Food
I’m not sure when Dariece and I turned into foodies, but we are now totally in love with cuisine and plate culture.
We always loved eating, but now we find that food is one of our favourite parts of travel. We take food tours and research local dishes before arriving in every place we visit.
13. More Wine!
I would say that we probably drank more wine in 2015 than we had in the previous 6 years on the road!
We’re not total winos, but we’ve just recently discovered our love for wine and cheese platters, and we are starting to feel a bit like connoisseurs 🙂
14. An Urge To Return
When we were in our 20s, we were trying to see new places and as many destinations as possible. While we did return to some of our favourite countries more than once (India, Thailand), we never really felt the need to return.
These days, we’ve gone back to our beloved island of Grenada two times now, and are going returning again later this year.
Plus, we feel Asia calling us. There’s a level of nostalgia that we feel when we think about our travels there and we are dying to go back and see how much it has changed since our last visit.
15. Can’t Stay At The Beach
We used to sit on a towel on the sand for hours on end, soaking in the sun and getting as brown as possible.
Now, we could care less what colour our skin is (in fact, we wear SPF 50), and we usually just go for a swim and then head out to do something more interesting and active.
16. Festival Fever
As Dariece and I are planning our next trip, we’ve noticed that we’re a lot more interested in the festivals and cultural events than we used to be.
We actually made the effort to go to Antigua, Guatemala this year to experience the Easter celebrations there. We make sure we’re in the Caribbean for Carnival season and we’re excited for the Spring Festival in Hungary.
I think the only festivals we saw on our first trip were ones that we just stumbled onto, but now they’re an integral part of our trip planning.
17. More Hassle From Vendors
To be fair, this one really isn’t our fault. As we grow older, we seem to be perceived differently by salesman around the world.
We used to be those grubby, young, broke backpackers that definitely couldn’t afford to go snorkelling or jet skiing. These days, because we look older, it’s assumed that we have extra cash to spend, and we’re always asked to go on tours…can we look younger somehow? 🙂
18. Shopping Less
Maybe other people start shopping more as they get older, but we are finding that souvenirs look more and more useless each year.
This is probably because we have no place to put them, or maybe because they all start to look the same, but we have had less of an urge to shop than ever before – unless it’s for a product that will help expand our business.
19. Keeping Better Contact
Whether we meet a fellow traveller or make friends with a local from the countries we visit, we now try to keep in better contact with the people who we meet.
So many times on our first trip, we met cool people but never ended up emailing them. Now we know just how fun it is to have friends from around the world and we cherish their contact info.
20. More Taxis
Certainly a product of a higher budget, we find ourselves taking taxis if they will save us a lot of time. We used to just take local buses, even if they took twice as long, but now we’ll often throw $30 at a situation just to ensure that we have more time to visit the site or the town that we’re heading to.
21. Feeling Charitable
Perhaps we’ve always wanted to give back, but never had the extra means to do so? Lately, we’re looking for more and more ways to help the communities that we travel to.
The countries we’ve been to have given us so much, we feel that it’s time to give back. Whether it’s donating a goat (more about this idea later on the blog), volunteering as English teachers, or building a well in Cambodia, we are making an effort to help out where it’s needed.
22. Classin’ Up
Not only do we take more taxis than we used to, but gone are the days of the lowest class transport for the lowest possible rate.
We’ve spent more than enough sleepless nights with rats rooting through our bags in India, now we go for the air-conditioned class and the comfortable seating. Sleep is important!
23. Fancy Clothes?!
I never thought I would travel with a pair of dress pants and a collared shirt, and maybe that’s because I really never needed them while backpacking in Southeast Asia. But now that we sometimes go to nicer restaurants or bars, there’s actually a dress code.
I prefer to wear my board shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt, but I don’t want to miss out on the country’s best steak, or a famous cultural show, simply because I don’t have any nice clothes. The same goes for Dariece, she has a dress or two, dress pants, nice shirts and even a pair of heels!
…and good thing too, as here in Barbados, there is a dress code for many places.
24. Cultural Shows
I used to think that cultural shows were “too touristy”. It’s true, they’re mostly attended by tourists because we are the ones most interested in the country’s culture.
Oftentimes when we were younger, we wouldn’t go to a show, thinking it was just for package tourists, or the older crowd.
But these days, we’re starting to learn that sometimes these cultural shows are often the best (or only) way to witness ancient dance, dress and traditions.
We have always done some tours, but we skipped many of them in the past because we thought that they were too touristy, or too expensive.
We now realize that tours can give you an invaluable glimpse into a country and its history, and although we still prefer to hire our own, private guide, we don’t miss out on great tours just because there will be other tourists around.
We’ve found that the best tours often come from ones that our hostel has put together, as that way we know we’ll be surrounded by like-minded travellers.
26. More Savvy
27. Too Many Gadgets
I wouldn’t say that this is a typical result of getting older, but for us, for some reason, we’ve accumulated way too many travel gadgets in the past couple of years!
A drone, Note 3, iPod, iPad, 2 Macbooks, GoPro, Gimbal, microphones and much more. This is all because we’re travel bloggers, but still… it’s getting out of hand.
28. Health is a Priority
As we age, we’re more concerned with our health than before. If we get sick, we go to the doctor. We try to eat well and keep fit. We stear clear of budget food stands that have clearly left their chicken out in the sun all day. We’ve been sick enough times on the road, and our health has definitely become a more important part of our travelling life as a result of experience and age.
29. We’re Old
Looking around at the crowd in hostels, we’re starting to feel a bit old! This is a weird feeling for us, but it’s noticeable that the travelling crowd is typically in their early twenties or even late teens.
We’re starting to feel old when we’re in backpacker spots, but that’s alright. It just means we’re seasoned… right?
30. It Keeps Getting Better
Every single year that we spend travelling, together, and on the road, we fall more and more in love with each other, and with this incredible lifestyle.
Our lust for travel hasn’t faded and we still get jitters when thinking about our upcoming trips.
These changes may be a product of us having more money, the fact that we’re a couple, or because we’re in our 30s. Whatever it may be, we’re happy with our current travel style and are enjoying life to the fullest.
Travel is like a fine wine, it gets better with age.