Thursday, 4 October 2018

Why travelling over 30 is different

I am writing this on the morning of my 32nd Birthday and my desire to travel shows no signs of slowing down! Travelling over 30 doesn't feel the total 'norm' as a lot of my friends are already settling down with families and lovely houses in the UK. I own a flat but wouldn't necessarily say I am settled in it and although I long for a proper house soon, I wanted this year to be all about ticking off those big travel bucket list items!

I moved to Singapore earlier this year, and thought it was the best time for me to start this blog in the hope that I could inspire others to do something similar rather than spending their life thinking, 'What if I had lived abroad when I was younger?'.

Without further ado - here are the reasons why I find travelling over 30 is different from in your teens and 20's!

It's less about hostels and more about boutique hotels

I did things a bit differently to other people I know. I worked super hard (too many hours) and got my career nailed first, then decided to travel a bit later in life. The beauty of this is I have the financial backing I wouldn't have had when I was 10 years younger. 

I travel everywhere with my partner and we are lucky enough to be able to pick nicer hotels than we would've been able to afford when we were younger. Although we do try to budget as much as we can, we try not to worry about doing any organised day trips we fancy and enjoying that extra cocktail here and there! One of my fave hotels we have stayed in this year was Hotel Stripes in Kuala Lumpur: you can read my full review here.

Natural beauty is suddenly, well... beautiful!

I honestly feel like I appreciate the world so much more than I would have done if I'd done a gap year straight from University. I remember being a teenager and my grandparents pointing things out from the car window: the seasons changing, the sunny weather, the formation of clouds, and I just used to think why are you telling me this, I don't care (such a moody devil)! 

I am now at that age where I find myself appreciating the changing seasons, beautiful greenery and all aspects of nature just so much more. I honestly have so much gratitude for every country I visit and the small moments that make each trip unique. 

For example, I visited the Angkor temples in Siem Reap earlier this year and found myself completely overwhelmed by their age and magnificent beauty. I just couldn't believe I was actually there. This destination would have never even appealed to me a few years ago and I certainly wouldn't have been as mesmerised! I visited Japan for the first time last week which is where these photos were taken, and I couldn't have felt more at home surrounded by this amazing woodland.

You know how to 'adult' that bit better

Now I certainly wouldn't say I have it all figured out (nowhere near, but that's a story for another day!) However, some things are just a bit easier when you are travelling over 30 with that extra bit of life experience. 

I know how to pack lightly now and can easily do a holiday on hand luggage only (I recently did the Maldives just with carry-on!). Part of this is down to having more confidence which I will come onto next. Also, I have done enough trips lugging a massive case to realise that it just isn't worth taking that extra pair of shoes if it means I will have an awful time getting around!

Instawanderlust is a thing

Facebook came in when I was at University with Instagram following in October 2010. Fast forward to now and it literally just takes a few taps on your phone to find thousands of inspirational photos. 

I have mixed feelings on this and try not to let Instagram dictate all my travel plans but it has certainly opened my eyes to destinations I never would have known about otherwise. This definitely makes me glad I did my travelling over 30 and had my 'gap year' when there is so much more information out there!

You are more confident in yourself

This is true not just for travelling, but for life in general. My mum always said to me that her 30's were her favourite decade because she accepted who she was and had loads more confidence. I have to agree, it's my favourite decade so far and when it comes to travel that extra confidence really helps. 

I am not shy about asking for directions or help from strangers now. 20 year old me would've been a right wuss and ended up wandering around aimlessly not daring to speak to anyone. 

I remember going to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil with work when I was 22 and I didn't even dare leave my room on my own. I bought crisps from a corner shop to have for my dinner as I was too nervous to even order room service! 32 year old me is actually laughing at 22 year old me for being that shy, but it was so far away from home and so different that I just felt constantly frightened. 

You do the right things, not everything

I guess what makes things a little more different when travelling over 30 is the fact that I am just more tired. Anyone else of a similar age knows that once you get to your late 20's you start to get those random aches and pains and when it comes to nights out you need to allow 1-3 days to get over the hangover. 

The same applies to travel: it takes me a good few days to get back to normal after a trip and feel less worn out. I just can't pack as much into a day trip as I used to, even though I try! This is good in some ways as it means I have to select the best things to do in each destination, rather than trying to pack in every single thing. I like to do walking tours, especially food ones, as they tie in my interests (eating, trying new food!) with also seeing plenty of a new city on foot.

You have less leave time

Sad but true, most of us travelling in our 30's are restricted to our measly annual leave allowance as we have most likely got ourselves into 'proper jobs' by now! This means that those lengthy trips aren't always an option and your travels are constricted to long weekends and one or two longer trips a year. 

However, particularly when I lived in Singapore I found that it was so easy to pack plenty into a long weekend. I recently blogged about a long weekend in the Cameron Highlands and you can see from that how much is possible to fit into a two or three day trip. 

I guess the positive aspect of having less time is that you can be more choosy about how you use your holiday allowance and do lots of research to really make the most of that leave. Bank holiday weekends are great to use for exploring new cities; I fully intend to get round Europe over the next couple of years using lots of mini weekend breaks.

You know what you like

I guess by the time you reach 30 you know what interests you and what doesn't, and whilst finding new interests is amazing you are more aware of what floats your boat and therefore can prioritise things to do quite easily. 

I suddenly like art galleries - never thought I'd be saying that, and I tend to like an organised tour when going for a day trip out of a city just so I feel taken care of and can relax. 

I don't do water sports. I am not a confident swimmer and I've tried to do this kind of thing over the years and just don't enjoy it! It's very liberating to know what you like to do and make sure your trips are full of your kind of activities. I love history, art and especially temples.

The future bucket list

I have no intentions of abandoning my travels any time soon and hope that over the next few years we can explore more of what Europe has to offer. Meeting people in Asia made me realise that we are lucky to live in Europe with the ability to travel to exciting places like Paris, Milan and Copenhagen so easily: they are so jealous of our cheap European flight options. It's funny isn't it, I could say the same to them about having access to cheap flights with Scoot to explore exotic Asian destinations. 

I guess the main aspect that makes travelling over 30 different is that extra gratitude. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be able to travel and explore everything this wonderful world has to offer. 30 countries down and I'm only just getting started...

I hope you enjoyed reading and I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Do you think travelling over 30 is different? Have I missed anything? Please let me know in the comments below!


  1. This resonates so much with me! In my early 20s I only ever did beach/pool holidays in Spain and was happy with that whilst I focussed on my career. Now I’m a bit older, appreciate travel more and can afford to go further I’m so much more adventourous! The struggle with time off work is hard though.
    My latest trip included a stay in Singapore - it must be so great to live there! We had a blast.

    1. Hi I'm glad to hear that you could relate! I totally agree with everything you said, I wanted to see everywhere but work just got in the way so saved madly and took a few months out to explore Asia. So glad you enjoyed Singapore, it's amazing.

  2. Such an interesting post and definitely agree with you! Simon and I are turning into such hotel snobs in our old age and now we can't help but spoil ourselves when we go away ... I guess when you're older it's nice to have some creature comforts (I make it sound lIke I'm about to go into a retire home!)

    We also love pottering about on tours (usually with loads of older people who we find we get on better with than younger people!) and bars where we can hear ourselves talk!

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yes I totally agree, I'm not as comfortable in cheap hotels any more which was hard when we did so many trips. Haha you don't at all, I get it! I absolutely love those tours you know, I really get on with the older people and love hearing about the places they've been... I am embracing being a granny inside! :D

  3. Lovely post! I am in my 20's and I'm really looking forward to my 30's. I'm hoping that I can travel more when I have my life a little bit more on track! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    1. Thanks for commenting, really glad you enjoyed it! Yes it's definitely easier once you are stable with work etc to plan trips - but my biggest piece of advice is just don't turn down any opportunities if you can make it work! I missed a couple of trips where friends lived abroad and I probably could've gone - I regret it a little now.

  4. You do not look 32 at all! I reckon that's because you have such an amazing attitude towards life. Such a great post, although I'm in my early 20s and to be honest, most of this resonates with me as well. I've never stayed in a hostel, nor do I wish to. Such a lovely blog!

    1. Thank you, what a lovely comment! I am trying to cling onto that youth as long as possible haha... really glad you like the blog!

  5. I 100% agree with all of your points. I cringe at the places I travelled and holiday choices I made in my 20s! Always so much better these days :-)

    1. Ah I'm glad you can relate! I would never take back my previous holidays like Malia 2009 and Magaluf 2010 with the girls.. but I probably would rather we hadn't worn questionable T shirts and stayed in the most rough hotels that I'd never want to even walk past now!

  6. Great article! Whilst I'm not quite 30 (29), I've just come back from 10 months travelling and I completely agree with what you're saying. The extra money really helped when my style is nicer hotels rather than hostels! We were in two minds about emigrating to Australia but then you realise how much is actually on our doorstep in Europe and within the UK; it's just taking that time to get out there!

    1. Yes it defo starts in your mid-20s I would say, your tastes just change don't they! I loved travelling 10 years ago but my priorities (and energy levels) are so different now haha. You're so right - I have been to everywhere I wanted to in Asia this year and so glad, now it's time to get through the rest of Europe as I have SO much left to see!

  7. I will be 33 when I start full time travel this year!
    I think when your older your definitely more cautious, which definitely has it's pros and cons.
    Other peoples reactions are different the older you get, I think people expect me to be buying a house and not spending all my money on traveling!

    I feel like I can still do a good mix of things when I travel, but I definitely appreciate time to chill out and read a book!

    1. That's brilliant, well done for doing something you really want to do! Yeah I agree, and do you know what, people's set expectations on certain ages for doing things need to stop. Hence why one of my more recent posts is about why I ditched my 5 year plan and feel better for it! Thanks for your comment. I wish you all the best for travelling. Melis x

  8. Great post! I’m about to turn 28 in a couple of weeks, so not in my 30s but definitely not 20 anymore. I can relate to all of your points! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Hillary, yes I do think my travel style probably started to change mid-20s and beyond. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, thank you. Melis

  9. Loved this post - true for me as well! I love the idea that we do the right things, not all the things - definitely getting better at that!! xx

    1. Thanks I am glad you liked the post. It is definitely all about priority! Melis