When we were researching for our triple could not find much relevant information about backpacking in your 40s. This article, and others that we are currently constructing or have posted is our attempt to provide more useful insights into others in our situation.
Backpacking in your 40s is an amazing experience. However, as with any of our views on this blog it is fair to say that our detail comes from our own experience, and indeed probably a comparison between us when we travelled in our younger days rather than a generalisation of different age groups.
We have found on this trip some considerable differences in the way we have planned, travelled and participated in the trip verses our 20s. We’ve broad brush applied this to everyone in their 40s and 20s, knowing that it doesn’t apply to everyone. Should our thoughts not match yours, please don’t take it as a specific sleight at the way you may travel (though do leave us some comments where we might have missed some key points, or where you beg to differ) but consider this an evaluation of ourselves.
1. You are more streetsmart
You’ve probably spent the last 20 years or so working in a commercial environment, you might have travelled when you were younger but you’ve almost certainly ventured abroad on several occasions over the last 20 years. Throughout this time, you’ve developed a degree of streetsmart. You’ve potentially been the victim of, and subsequently avoided, different scams and rip offs employed on the travelling vulnerable and so have grown accustomed to the tricks of the trade; as such you know when they are likely to happen. You’re not immune, but you are ready for them, you know when they are likely to happen and you avoid them. Backpacking in your 40s is therefore less stressful with fewer incidents. This may mean that you are more cautious and less likely to throw everything into the ring to go out partying with some “friends” you’ve just made.
2. You have more financial flexibility
Inevitably over the last 20 years or longer you’ve built up some savings. You’ve got some money put aside for your trip, but also being the prudent and mature 40/50 something you’ve also got some stashed away for a rainy day. No matter how budget conscious you are, you still need to feel that you have got some security. This may be needed for when you return from your travels, or to get you through any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. Therefore, you are much more relaxed about undertaking any length of backpacking in your 40s and can flex more depending on your own situation.
3. You can travel in a higher standard of comfort
You’ve probably developed a higher degree of comfortable living standards. Somehow you can feel the lumps more in mattresses, pillows become critical, a private bathroom is almost an essential (we just can’t keep it in as long as we used to) and more than one or two nights without a good night sleep leaves you cranky and best avoided. Hopefully you enjoy the budgetary flexibility that comes along with being a more of a “flash” than a “back” packer. Backpacking in your 40s means you can afford, and indeed choose, to stay in accommodation which offers a slightly higher standard of service. Private rooms, en-suite bathrooms, quieter locations, better rated on Tripadvisor or Hostel.com. Of course, you can choose to stay in the cheaper dormitory style hostels, but it is a choice not a necessity. When you need that great night’s sleep, a hotel standard room but at a fraction of the price is within your grasp.
4. You can go further faster…if you choose to
Sure, there is something to be said about the experience and camaraderie of taking some very long bus journeys but rarely are they as comfortable or enjoyable as you choose to remember! Sometimes they are entirely necessary to get to the amazing places, however, sometimes a one hour flight (usually at least 4 times the cost) beats the hell out of a 12 hour bus ride. Trust us, we’ve done both.
5. You understand your own pace and reap the benefits
You’ve realised that you don’t need to go with the flow, you travel to enjoy the experience and see amazing things but you do it on your own terms. You know what you enjoy and how you enjoy it. This means you absolutely maximise the opportunities available to you…be it adventure, extreme sports, exploration etc and the beautiful thing is that you mix it with just the right amount of sleep, relaxation, appropriate research and ‘l’asiaz faire’ attitude to truly get the most out of it. You don’t worry if you have a day off in between tours and experiences. In fact, you probably quite enjoy the respite and relaxation having already factored it into your plans.
6. You fit in
Look, you’re not over the hill yet. The reason why your 40s is the perfect time to unleash yourself on the world again is because you still are close enough to fashion to know what to wear albeit tailored to suit your age. You are still physically active so there are few, if any, things that you can’t do know than you could in your 20’s (possibly with the major exception of not being able to stay out drinking every night past midnight and still function the next day! You may be different in which case you deserve a merited place in the 40 Steps Beyond Hall of Fame). In fact, if you chose to because of your financial flexibility you can probably do MORE than what you could have done in your 20’s. There are more and more people out there travelling alone, as couples or in groups that are of the 40’s age group, so much so that you will blend in unnoticed. Perfect all round.
7. You embrace your freedom
If you have broken free of the shackles holding you back at home then you are in the perfect stage of your life to travel the world, Embrace it, pack the things that bring you happiness; because your increased security conscious attitude and higher standards of accommodation mean you can safely do so, don’t accept second best in the hostel world there are many great places with private accommodation (and you can choose your sociability levels without compromising your own room choice) and take things at your own pace. You are free, probably for the first time in 20+ years. You won’t have a better experience.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our thoughts – please do leave any comments if you have any points that we’ve inevitably missed – we promise to respond to every one.
Bye for now ……… we’re off to find travelling photos of us in our 20’s!