Why travelling in your 30s and 40s is so much better than your 20s

By Matt Risely

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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.

Never more so is this more realised then the difference between travelling in your 20s, and then in your 30s and 40s.

Youth may be wasted on the young, but adventure, experience and travelling only gets better with age…

Drink disasters are a thing of the past

Most of us 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.

Read more: My 30s life – welcome to the age of self-confidence (finally!)

But older, wiser, and 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, you can now soak up each new place undiluted, allowing for a more ‘in the moment’ holiday, and memories you can actually remember afterwards.

Carpe that diem and flex the purse strings

In the immortal words of Parks and Recreation, it’s important to treat yo’self every now and again.

Most of us travelling in our 20s didn’t have cash to spare, but your 30s and 40s offer a little fiscal wiggle room, and one you should embrace.

In ten years’ time, I guarantee you won’t remember the £279.82 you spent on that hot air balloon experience, camel ride and local hammam – you’ll just remember the happy, joyful feeling of what it was like to live it.

Common sense really is a wonderful thing

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 woops what have I done and how the chuff do I get out of this predicament’.

It factors into your travelling experience on a daily basis, and becomes a finessed self-preservation instinct the older you get.

No, next time I won’t follow this complete stranger down an alleyway purely because they’re offering a margherita BOGOF deal.

Read more: 5 ways solo travel could be the most empowering thing you do

No, next time I won’t hitchhike with an overly smiley stranger because they reckon they know a quick short-cut that’ll shave ten minutes off my travel time.

And yes, I will live to a riper old age, with many more stories to show for it.

Solo travelling really isn’t scary

For many, 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.

Yet as I’ve matured, I’ve realised that while having someone else to do something with is lovely, you don’t need anyone else to make the memory in the first place – just the confidence and happiness to blaze your own path.

If you’ve always wanted to explore the sights and delights of [insert your dream destination here], but you don’t have anyone ready to join you on the adventure, then it shouldn’t stop you doing it anyway.

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Nepal Trip Trailer | Follow in the footsteps of mountain legends – Mount Everest awaits. Join us as we hike at high altitudes, pass through traditional Sherpa villages and reach peaks at 5,000m above sea level. This is our trip to Nepal to hike the Everest Trail 🇳🇵. [Full video can be found on our YouTube] . . . . . #nepal #everest #everesttrail #himalayas #travelnepal #nepaltravel #sherpa #sherpafilms #travelfilm #travelvideo #videooftheday #flashpack #adventuresworthsharing #adventuretravel #travel #traveling #solotravel #luxurytravel #lovetotravel #travelmore #adventure #bucketlist #wanderlust #explore #travelgram #passport #roundtheworld #placestogo #beautifuldestinations #earthfocus

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Especially when there are so many companies like Flash Pack ready and willing to pair you up with other like-minded people who are as excited and eager to see [aforementioned dream destination] as you.

Your travel mates are probably going to be more interesting

Not only do you find it easier to connect with people the older you get, but – whisper it, and definitely don’t tell the best friend you’ve had since primary school – the people you meet on your trips are usually infinitely more interesting.

By your 30s and 40s, everyone’s lived a life. Everyone has a backstory (or seven), and multiple, varying 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, I’m now more likely to meet people with fascinating jobs, eyebrow-raising life situations, or Pulitzer-worthy travelling tales of their own.

Read more: Feeling lonely? Try finding better friends 

Because of travelling, 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 mates – something I never saw coming, but relationships which have brought a lot of laughter, happiness and opportunity into my life as a result.

You realise the importance of self-care

Taking a breather from the madness and/or monotony of your professional and personal life becomes ever more important the older (and more responsibilities) 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 harder.

Contentment is about balance, perspective and living in the moment – and travelling when you’re a little older allows you to experience each and every one of those in surprising harmony.

Three epic adventures to get your holiday inspo flowing

Smash your bucket list in South Africa

 Take Cape Town in style, with a one-day trip that sees you hiking Table Mountain before abseiling your way back down, heading off on a safari of a lifetime, and rambling through the Stellenbosch vineyards.

Let’s go

Savour the sweet life in Costa Rica

woman kayaking in costa rica

Explore the wilds and wonders of Costa Rica, with an 11-day trip that includes kayaking alongside turtles, tubing down turquoise rivers, hiking across lava fields and trekking up volcanoes.

I’m there

Let Sri Lanka be your solace

Get your nature on with an exotic trip through Sri Lanka, as you search for elephants, sloth bears and leopards on safari, cycle through UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and release baby turtles into the Indian Ocean as the sun sets. Dreamy.

Hell yeah

Images: Flash Pack, Shutterstock


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