When I was younger, I made many, many mistakes. From the mullet that launched a thousand Facebook Memories, to the hours I spent obsessively learning the lyrics to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Greatest Hits, we all have our own personal eye-rolling sins to bear. But with age comes wisdom (or so they tell me) and hindsight that makes you appreciate the value in those oft-facepalming learning curves.
I hadn’t realised this quite as much as when noticing the difference between travelling in my 20s and then in my 30s and 40s. Youth may be wasted on the young, but adventure, experience and travelling only gets better with age. Here’s why I believe that travelling in your 30s and 40s is better than in your 20s.
5 reasons to travel solo in your 30s and 40s
1. You don’t rely on a drink to find your comfort zone
I imagine most of us who drink alcohol can relate to the cringe-worthy morning after, and the attempt to piece together a litany of embarrassing escapades from the night before. The combination of social anxiety, backpacker booze culture and thrifty living meant that boozy nights at 7-for-1 bars were a common occurrence during my 20-something travels.
But as an older, wiser traveller in my 30s, with a decidedly more delicate liver, I don’t feel the need to rely on a drink to find my comfort zone anymore. Walking into a group of strangers is nowhere near as worrisome when you know you’re all there for the same shared experience. Even better, when you’re travelling in your 30s sober, you can soak up each new place undiluted, allowing for a more ‘in the moment’ holiday and memories you can actually remember.
2. Solo travel is a form of self care
Something I’ve learnt with age is that it’s important to treat yourself every now and again. Travelling in my 20s, I didn’t have cash to spare. But travelling in my 30s and 40s there was a little fiscal wiggle room – something I wholeheartedly embraced. In ten years’ time, I guarantee I won’t remember what I spent on that hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, private boat trip and local hammam in Turkey. I’ll only remember the happy, joyful feeling of what it was like to live it.
I’ve found that taking a breather from the madness and monotony of a professional and personal life becomes ever more important the older (and more responsible) you get. Which means that when I travel to a new location and soak up all the new sights, smells and sounds, I appreciate every second all the more. Contentment is about balance, perspective and living in the moment, and travelling in your 30s and 40s allows you to experience each and every one of those in surprising harmony.
3. You are more assertive
It doesn’t matter how high your IQ is, there are some common sense life lessons you only learn through trial and error. That innate sixth sense for knowing when ‘going with the flow’ has slowly morphed into ‘oh whoops, what have I done and how do I get out of this predicament’. I’ve found that it factors into your travelling experience on a daily basis and becomes a finessed self-preservation instinct the older you get.
Next time, I won’t follow a complete stranger to a bar purely because they’re offering a margarita BOGOF deal. Next time, I won’t hitchhike with an overly smiley stranger because they reckon they know a quick shortcut that’ll shave minutes off my travel time. These all provided such beautiful interactions with strangers but I now, as a traveller over 30, find other ways to do that. And yes, I will live to a riper old age with many more stories to show for it.
4. You make your own travel memories
For me and many others, the fear of leaving the pack to follow your own path is an anxiety-sparking issue in your 20s – especially when you’re travelling with best friends or significant others. But when travelling in my 30s and 40s, I’ve realised that while having someone else to do something with is lovely, you don’t need anyone else to make the memory – just the confidence and happiness to blaze your own path.
If you’ve always wanted to explore the sights and delights of Japan or Peru but you don’t have anyone ready to join you on the adventure, then it shouldn’t stop you from doing it anyway. Especially when companies, like Flash Pack, which specialise in group travel for 30-40-year-olds, exist and are ready and willing to pair you up with other like-minded people equally as excited to explore.
5. The people you meet are more interesting
Not only did I find it easier to connect with others the older I got, but – shhh, whisper, and definitely don’t tell the best friend you’ve had since primary school – the people I’ve met on my trips are usually infinitely more interesting. When travelling in your 30s and 40s, everyone’s lived a life. Everyone has a backstory (or ten) and multiple reasons for joining the trip in the first place. While the ‘I’m just out of uni’ conversation starters I endured when I was younger were all well and good, as a traveller in my 30s I’m now more likely to meet people with fascinating jobs, eyebrow-raising life situations or Pulitzer-worthy travelling tales of their own.
Because of travelling in my 30s and 40s, I can now count the owner of a billionaire member’s club, an ex-yogi to the Hollywood stars and an ultra-marathon runner as friends – something I never saw coming. But they are all relationships that have brought a lot of laughter, happiness and opportunity into my life as a result.
How to embrace solo travel in your 30s and 40s
There’s no doubt that solo travel in your 30s and 40s is enriching – but there are still several ways to approach it depending on the experience you’re looking for. Here are the two most common routes you could take.
Go it alone
Committing to ‘going it alone’ entails planning the whole of your trip (flights, accommodation, excursions, the itinerary – everything) by yourself. Truly putting the ‘solo’ in solo travel. This means you can enjoy the freedom of not having to please anyone else, but it may also be a daunting prospect if you’re travelling alone for the first time.
Join a guided solo travel group
Another way to experience solo travel in your 30s and 40s is by joining a solo group with Flash Pack, where the hassle is taken out of travel planning, giving you access to unique experiences that are difficult to arrange on your own. You’ll also be paired with a small group of like-minded adventurers so you can make lasting friendships.
Explore our adventure trips.
Experience the freedom of travelling in your 30s and 40s
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Images: Flash Pack