Travel in your 30s: become the adventurous badass you were born to be

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Real tales of adventure, told by real Flashpackers. This piece is written by a member of our incredible Flash Pack community. To share your own Flash Pack story, drop us a DM on Instagram and we’ll be right there.

Serial Flashpacker Jenni has travelled with Flash Pack on a series of adventures, including Sri Lanka, Thailand/Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines.

Before I travelled the world, I was happy with my life. I had just started a new job I really loved, I had a close circle of friends and a daily routine that I enjoyed. My week mainly consisted of work Monday to Friday with weekends as the highlight: meeting with friends, going to dinner parties and generally having a good time. 

 I had been single for a while, which was never a problem until things changed. One after another, my friends started having babies, getting married, building houses and generally needing more time with their own families. 

Spontaneous meetups were happening less and less, and planned summer holidays and fun weekend getaways were postponed.

“We’ll go next year, I promise!”

“It’s so busy at work, I really can’t take time off right now.”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t afford it this time.”

 I’m sure many of you over 30 have heard these sentences more than once. My daily routine started feeling more and more like a treadmill without any goal at all. 

In search of adventure

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Komodo in Indonesia - travel photography from Jenni

I always wanted to see more of the world, but I was hesitant to do it on my own. I started looking into group travelling but I had some misgivings about the idea. The thought of sharing a room with a stranger worried me. Paying for a single supplement felt too expensive. What if I didn’t get along with the group?

There were always some things on the itineraries I found that didn’t really speak to me, too. Would I be forced to do stuff I’m just not into? Would I still have time on my own? I decided to jump in at the deep end, booking with a non-Flash Pack company on a round trip to Costa Rica.

It was my first time flying alone overseas and it was quite exciting. I loved the country, and I liked the general concept of group travel. There were just some things that needed improvement, including a targeted age range. 

I couldn’t keep up with 20-year-olds who wanted to party every night. But neither did I want to be in bed by 8pm, like some of our 50+ participants. After that first experience, I felt the need for:

– Better accommodation

– More people who were on their own like me. A group of pre-existing friends travelling together on a group trip tends to separate off a lot.

– More exclusive activities that would be harder to organise on my own

– No hidden costs

A Flash Pack awakening

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The temples of Bagan - travel photography from Jenni

 I started searching the internet and stumbled over Flash Pack. Was this just what I was looking for? I had a chat with one of their travel agents and after asking a tonne of questions, I booked my first trip with Flash Pack to Sri Lanka.

Just two months later I found myself on a flight to Colombo. As a WhatsApp chat group had been set up in advance, I was able to connect with my fellow Flashpackers before the trip and some of us arranged to meet up during transit. 

Our guide gave us a warm welcome at the airport in Colombo, including a flower chain. After checking out the spacious room at the first hotel, I spent some time at the pool before the welcome dinner kicked off our vacation. 

It turned out that we were all women on that trip, and we came from all over the world. We connected easily and after just the second day together, we ended up drinking and talking through the night. It felt so good to feel understood and be at the same point in life with my fellow travellers; we were all going through similar life situations, and were facing the same fears and challenges. There was a lot of laughing involved, as we exchanged personal stories over ex-boyfriends, job failures and our funniest sex stories (let’s just say, the thought of Ninja action figures will probably haunt me for life!)

All those stories were the perfect start to the adventure that followed, from hanging out in a train to Ella, to performing Britney Spears songs on a bus ride at night, and releasing baby turtles back into the wild.

Making memories and moments of joy

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Rice fields in Bali - travel photography from Jenni

I returned home with a load of beautiful memories, a lifted spirit and a heart full of love for the people and the country I just got to know a little bit better. I’m lucky that I can still call some of these ladies my friends; even though we are spread all over the world, we are forever connected by sharing the same experiences. 

My trip to Sri Lanka opened up a whole new world full of possibilities for me I wasn’t even aware of: I was hooked. I felt like I immediately needed to book another trip, and just six months later, I decided to join Flash Pack’s Thailand and Laos trip. Not having to worry about any level of organisation was a big bonus for me: it got rid of so much stress. 

I met my new group at a hotel in Bangkok before heading for welcome drinks at a rooftop bar. Our wonderful guide Amy went above and beyond to immerse us in Thai culture. We joined snoozing locals on the sleeper train to Chiang Mai, before eating a typical kind of Chiang Mai sausage and noodles. We trekked through the jungle where we got treated to an alfresco feast: super-spicy chicken and rice that had been cooked in bamboo just for us. I’m sure many of us still have those handmade chopsticks and cups now. 

We went white-water rafting, which was such a daunting prospect for me, it left me in tears before we started everyone from the group was so sweet about it, though. Group travel helps you to step out of your comfort zone and it can be great for facing your fears straight-on. 

Soon after, we jumped on a boat on the Mekong river to head to Laos. Our time in Laos was really one of a kind. On the constant hunt for an even better massage place, I always remember the time I ended up showering under a rusty showerhead placed directly over a toilet in a backyard; having been invited to sit in “a steam sauna”. I was half-laughing, half-crying during the massage as my fellow Flashpackers begged for more pressure, or fell asleep snoring. Needless to say, I went to bed afterwards full of memories and overflowing with joy.

The badass within

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Loboc river in the Philippines - travel photography from Jenni

My time in Laos and Thailand made me even more of a fan of group travel, and I joined a couple more Flash Pack tours after. Happily, the timing of these in 2019 allowed me to tick off a few bucket list moments before Covid hit.

Hot air balloon ride over Bagan? ✔️

Spending NYE on a secluded beach in the Philippines ? ✔️ 

During these Flash Pack tours I learned to step back. I got to know different cultures and perspectives while living in the moment, without worrying about anything else. 

Don’t get me wrong; even while travelling with a group you’ll sometimes feel lonely. On the other hand, you’ll find people to share these special moments of awe. No matter where you choose to travel to, I can promise that the experience of a group adventure will lead to personal growth and challenge. You’ll leave prejudices behind, and will feel better in your own skin.

I loved my little escapes from everyday life, work and society’s expectations. It was an invitation to be the adventurous badass I couldn’t be at home with zero judgement. During my trips, I met people who inspired me – people with totally different backgrounds and unique professions. People I would have never met in my everyday life. Now I feel connected to the world – and to myself more than ever before.

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