Professionals in their 30s and 40s are rewriting the rule book on life goals to make adventure their raison d’être, according to an eye-opening new study out this week.
Flash Pack’s poll of 3,000 people* in the age group reveals a growing movement of careerists who are using their hard-earned cash to put wanderlust front and centre.
For this demographic, ambitions such as climbing a mountain or going on safari are over-riding the more traditional milestones prized by generations gone by.
Where once upon a time, the average Brit dreamt of a house and 2.4 children, now 82% of those aged 30 to 50 crave amazing life experiences – and 77% say that seeing the world is their priority.
This is followed by a drive towards career progression (72%), greater self-confidence (65%) and overcoming fears (59%).
Read more: Why it’s OK to not want kids
Meanwhile, having children – once considered a major hallmark of adulthood – lags behind, with just 18% of people in their 30s and 40s making this their life goal.
And long-rooted objectives such as marriage (20%) and buying a house (17%) also fall down the list of aspirations in a bucket-list age.
Moreover, 50% of those questioned would postpone having children, and 49% would delay marriage, in order to answer their wanderlust.
Bucket list dreaming
This picture is mirrored in the States, where a parallel study by Flash Pack* shows that 54% of Americans aged in their 30s and 40s would rather invest in experiences than save for a house, while they’re still young.
In the poll of 1,000 Americans aged 30-49, adventure again ranks as the number one ‘bucket-list’ goal; outstripping more dated ideals such as marriage, children and owning a home.
The type of life-affirming experience this group aspires to includes watching the Northern Lights, cooking with a Michelin-starred chef, and staying on a private island.
A seize-the-moment lifestyle
Marriage and having children may not be a priority for this transatlantic movement of travel-lovers; but creating a brilliant career is.
In the States, working in a dream profession is a goal that’s over three times more desirable than having children for 30 and 40-something professionals. Across the pond, 23% more Brits prioritise career rather than marriage when it comes to thinking big.
Of the UK group, 67% balk at the thought of spending the typical £30,000 on a wedding, or the £230,000 on raising a child, but say the investment of £4-5k on a trip to develop their life experience is something they wouldn’t think twice about.
Similarly in the States, 84% of respondents wouldn’t hesitate to splash $4,000 on the trip of a lifetime, while 66% would pause over the average $33,000 price tag of a wedding (a figure that rises to 71% among women only).
Read more: The truth about being single in your 40s
All of this spells the rise of a free-wheeling lifestyle amid 30 and 40-somethings, who are often child-free, and with enough verve and disposable income to go where the wind takes them.
Facing an uncertain future, and with the world on their doorstep, people in this growing subculture aren’t waiting around until retirement to fulfil their dreams, but instead are seizing the moment in the spirit of “No More Not Yets”.
Forging a different path
The fact that adventure travel is now a driving force for today’s 30 and 40-somethings doesn’t mean that parenthood is completely out of the picture.
Rather, it no longer carries the weight that it once did. And without this pressure, a new wave of aspirations has had room to surface.
“Over the last three years, we’ve seen an 87% increase in customers coming to us having postponed goals previously held-up as important for the age bracket,” says Flash Pack co-founder Lee Thompson.
“This isn’t to say that having children or ‘settling down’ isn’t on the cards. Nowadays, it’s our thirties and even forties where we can take stock, investing hard-earned salaries into amazing experiences that really will set us up for the next phase.”
All about adventure
One person who’s doing exactly that is Deb Ashby (above), a 40-year-old product trainer from London.
“Most people crave a traditional lifestyle of stability, roots, a nice home, a partner and children,” Deb says.
“There is nothing wrong with that at all but that was never me. I grew up dreaming of climbing Mount Everest as opposed to walking down the aisle in a big white dress. I put off buying a house choosing to invest my savings in travel instead.”
Abbie Burton, a 36-year-old PA from Windsor, agrees.
“I’ve not set out to ‘shun’ the perceived norm of marriage and 2.4 children but as my life hasn’t taken that route, other paths have opened up and I’m more than happy to embrace them,” she says.
“I feel quietly proud when I tell people of all the places I’ve been and experiences I had. It’s generally met with a, ‘oh wow that’s amazing, I wish I could do that!'”
Adventurist Ed Stafford says that, rather than settling down, the 30s were a time when he learned to truly live and take risks.
“This is the decade to cut cords,” he says. “To allow yourself to fall apart in order to put yourself back together in a unique and amazing way that is just you. Take the road less safe every time and hold your own hand through it.”
Are you ready to embrace your No More Not Yet moment? Find out more right here.
*Survey conducted by third-party research firm Mortar, polling 2,000 30 to 49-year-old Britons and 1,000 30 to 49-year-old Americans in December 2018.
This story is part of Flash Pack’s No More Not Yets campaign. Our mission is to eradicate two powerful words that can stop you achieving your dreams: “not yet”. The not yet seen, not yet swum, not yet sat in the suns. Not yet met, not yet tried, not yet climbed, braved or conquered. What’s your Not Yet? Find out more here.
Three great adventures to seize the moment with
Explore jaw-dropping Jordan
The rose-red city of Petra awaits to dazzle you in this cracker of a Middle Eastern adventure. Hike a secret back door route to the ancient city carved into rock, plus go canyoning through the Wadi Mujib, star-gaze in a nature reserve and bed down in a Bedouin desert camp.
Free your mind in Bali
Solace comes calling with anti-gravity yoga in the jungle hills of Ubud, followed by a sunrise hike up a volcano, hot spring bathing and snorkelling round a WWII shipwreck off the fishing village of Amed. Not to mention the finale on an idyllic traffic-free coral island.
See the animals of Zimbabwe
The magnificent creatures of Africa want to say hello in a whirlwind escape that will take you from dawn bush walks and spectacular game rides across the Savannah of Zimbabwe and neighbouring Botswana, to a helicopter ride over the mighty Victoria Falls.
Images: Shutterstock, Flash Pack