I’ve been travelling for the past few months, and this is the first time, as a 30-something, I’ve travelled for more than just a few weeks. I’m only realizing now that I could have done a lot more travelling in my 20s, and if I could do it over again, there are some things I would do differently. So take the chance to travel if you can – these days, there are also many resources and technologies that could help make your travels more comfortable.
Do it now
When I was in my 20s, I told myself that I would travel more in the future. But now, something often always prevents me from doing so – weddings come up, work gets busy and I even had to take a long sick leave; this shows that you never know what could happen to you. Of course, things like budget, time and school may make it seem like planing travels are impossible at the moment, but if you plan in advance, anything is possible. To save up for travelling, spend less on material things and eat out less.
Get in pictures
When you do travel, get in pictures – they make the best souvenir. You may not like the way you look in pictures now, but in the future, that won’t matter. You’ll want those pictures, or at least your future kids/family members/friends will. I have lots of photos from my past trips, but I’m hardly in them because I’m always the one taking the pictures. I wish I were in more of them. So now, I try to take group pictures with those I am travelling with, get someone nearby to take a picture of me, or take a few selfies.
Take advantage of social media
I wish social media was around when I was in my 20s. One of the best things about it is that you have a whole array of benefits at your fingertips. Use Facebook and Twitter to search for promo codes before booking hotels or flights. Look through photos on Instagram to get an idea of what the area you’re visiting will really be like and how locals dress. Turn to apps like Couchsurfing and Travelstoke to connect with locals for tips or those who will be visiting at the same time as you to meet up.
Say yes as often as you can
Say yes to trying food and drinks you’ve never heard of before, because it might end up becoming one of your favourite things. If a local recommends going to a place that you didn’t plan on visiting, go along – they often know what’s best. Give in to an experience that may seem scary and out of your comfort zone – maybe you’ll be glad you did it, or if not, you’ll have a great story to tell.
Don’t wait for others to travel
Part of the reason why I didn’t travel when I could in my 20s was that I kept waiting for people to come with me. If you’re not comfortable travelling alone, look for tours or community-based travel groups to join. Another option is to work abroad for a few months, which is easier if you’re under 30, especially if you want to apply for a student or working holiday visa that allows you to stay in a certain country for one or two years.
Settling down can wait
When I was in my twenties, I lived the “responsible life” – I worked hard to succeed in my career, made enough money to get a mortgage and bought a place in my late 20s. It was great. Then one day in my 30s, I looked around and thought, “that’s it?” I felt like while I had security for the next 25 years or so, I had barely experienced anything that I wanted to. I then decided that would travel and move abroad for few months before anything really ties me down. There will always be a full-time job for me to come back to, and as we get older, we may have even more responsibilities and limitations.
Don’t sacrifice travel for your relationship
If your partner doesn’t want to travel with you, don’t wait for them or omit trips because of them. Go by yourself or with friends or family. Hopefully, your non-traveller partner will learn that it is an important part of your life and eventually want to experience it with you. It’s ok to be with someone who doesn’t share your passion for travel, but it’s not ok to let them hold you back from going to places that you want to go to.
Explore with people of all ages
I used to think it was “uncool” to travel with people who were far out of my age range. But not long ago, I was lost wandering alone when an 18-year-old guy staying at the same hostel invited me to explore the city with him. I went along and explored places that I wouldn’t have gone to alone, such as cool alleyways and artsy ditches. When I’m visiting a place, I also like to have an older local show me around and tell me stories about what it was like for them to grow up there and about how it’s changed since then.
Book cancel-able accommodation
Sometimes trips turn out the way you want it. Sometimes, especially if you meet people along the way, you may end up making spontaneous travel plans. If you book accommodation, use sites like booking.com, which allow for free cancellation for a certain amount of time. Airbnb also provides affordable accommodation, and some of them will give you a refund if you cancel.