Changing as a Traveler: 20's to 30's

June 27, 2016

I don't know about you, but there are some parts of my personality that have changed (for the better!) as I grew older. I know it's cliche, but I do feel like I learned many important lessons in my 20's that have made me both stronger and wiser. If a problem arises now, I handle it differently than I would have back then. There are also activities that I would have enjoyed in my 20's that I steer clear from now. Wait...that sounds a little shady, but I don't mean to be. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm a little more tame than I was in my 20's. Just as I've changed in my every day life, I feel as if I've also changed as a traveler over the years.

* My overall travel style is not quite the same. When I was younger, I knew exactly how many countries I had been to and wanted to go to as many different countries as possible. If I throughly enjoyed a weekend trip to...say Brussels, I wouldn't have revisited it in hopes of going to another city in a completely different country. Instead of trying to jump from country to country, I like to take things a little bit slower these days and spend additional time in an area so that I can explore it more thoroughly. And, now if I fall in love with a place, I have no qualms about going back time and time again, even if that means missing out on seeing a new city. Savannah is like that for me, and there are many cities in Italy I'd revisit in a heartbeat. Last year, I went on a trip to Iceland and the old me wouldn't have wanted to go back again so soon, but I thought it was beautiful there and wanted to have more time, so I planned a trip for this summer. Mind you, due to a major back surgery, I had to cancel the trip, but still... When I told others of my plans to go back to Iceland again, most people understood, but a few others did question me, asking why I would want to go back there again when I could go anywhere else. When it came to traveling as a younger person, I was very ambitious and wanted to do as much as possible in as many countries as possible. There isn't anything wrong with traveling this way, but now I think more about the logistics, as in, "Is it worth it to spend the money on airfare just to stay there for a few days?" 

* My interest in domestic travel within my home country (USA) has grown. In my 20's, if given the choice to travel within the States or to travel internationally, I would have chosen the international trip, hands down. Since I've done the majority of my traveling overseas, I realized that I have skipped over many incredible sights and interesting places in the USA. That's why when Rachael brought up possibly traveling to Hawaii this February, I was game. There are so many places on my domestic bucket list now like: The Badlands, Alaska, Santa Fe, Seattle, Oregon, New England, Havasupai Falls, etc. 

* I would never, ever, EVER travel without travel insurance. In my 20's, I worked for three years in a foreign country and was provided with insurance through my employer. While that insurance was good in the country where I was living and working, when I traveled to other Asian countries, I had no idea if it was valid. I was young and healthy and thought I'd rather just pay out-of-pocket for healthcare instead of "wasting" money on insurance. When my back suddenly went completely out on a recent trip to Urumqi, I was in so much pain and was extremely worried about my health. The absolute last thing I even wanted to think about was the financial aspect of the whole situation. Luckily, my insurance will cover at least $15,000 of what I spent. You don't want to go into financial ruin or worse yet, be denied care because you cannot cover the costs! 

* I make more educated decisions, especially when it comes to how animals are treated. I had a chance to visit the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin this year, but opted not to because of some questionable practices I'd read about that occurred at the park. In 2008, I did travel to Nepal and rode an elephant through Chitwan National Park. Would I do this now? No, because I know about the cruelty these animals are forced to endure. I'm not trying to sound preachy here, but merely want to reflect on how important doing a bit of research can be. 

* How good the nightlife is no longer factors into my decision to travel somewhere. Now I couldn't care less about the nightlife because it's not important to me. I care more about cultural attractions rather than if a place has a hopping bar scene. Of course, in my 20's, it's not that I ONLY cared about that, but sometimes I really did! 

* My preferences concerning accommodation are different. Even in my early 20's, I didn't really like staying in the large dorm rooms in hostels, but I would. Now that I'm in my 30's, I just can't! I'm more of a hotel, Air Bnb, or guesthouse kind of girl these days, but when I do stay in a hostel, I'd much rather pay more for a private room for me and my friends. The days of sharing rooms with strangers are hopefully behind me! I do value a good nights sleep a lot more! 

* I don't care about my looks...as much. I'm more concerned about whether or not I'm actually comfortable. I remember one time in Scotland, I wore these shoes that rubbed my feet raw but I suffered through the pain because I thought they looked good. Yeah, I don't like to wear trainers that much, but I'd gladly take them over blisters. I'm also totally cool with not wearing makeup in tropical climates. In Sri Lanka this year, I didn't even bother with it on most days. Now I'm all about comfort over fashion when I travel.

* I don't feel guilty for taking "me" time. Now my favorite part of traveling is that I try to make it a combination of taking in new sights and relaxing. I realized that chilling out plays an important role in my trips. In Iceland last summer, Rachael and I just spent an afternoon binge watching Season 1 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and we didn't feel guilty for not being out at that exact moment exploring Iceland. We had a very fulfilling trip and got to see and do so much. Spending an afternoon like that made us feel rejuvenated and eager to be "on the go" the following day. 

* Technology has changed the way I travel. In my 20's, my travel buddies and I got around by using paper maps or by asking for directions. I didn't have a GPS or Google Maps to look at if I got lost. Since directions are not my strong suit, I guess I'm rather glad about these technological advances. Now when I travel, it's rare that I spend more than 2 days in a row without access to wifi, so I'm always connected, which is useful, especially if there were to be an emergency. Although I do love Instagram and other forms of social media, sometimes I do also miss the simpler times!

* I have to think more about my physical limitations. Some people in their 30's might be super healthy and this might not affect them, but for me, my back problems have and will hold me back from doing everything I would have done in my 20's. When I was in Koh Tao this year, my travel buddy Scott and I signed up to take diving lessons. On the first day, we had to assemble our equipment and I was struggling to carry it. Leaning over and putting everything together, really hurt my back a lot since I had a bad massage a few days before. I told Scott that I was just too wary to dive the next day and that I was out but he could feel free to go ahead and continue the course if he wanted. Because of my spinal fusion, I just don't think I will be doing things like riding horses or anything super crazy. I probably won't be getting any more back massages (lesson learned from Thailand), and I really have to try not to sit for extended periods of time. This might mean that I'll book myself some stopovers as a break between long flights or splurge on a business class seat to get the flat bed. 

What's your traveling style now? Has it always been like that or did you also change?
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