Getting older isn’t necessarily a slow march towards death for your travels but as you age how you travel tends to change. Physically and mentally, if you continue to travel you’ll tend to see a slow shift in many of these directions; each of which can keep your trips, outlook, and self youthful over the ultimate journey.
You’ll Move Slower
I’m not talking about creaking knees (although that might happen as well) but rather the pace at which you travel. Younger travelers tend to want to “see more” and by doing so can often end up seeing less since they’re in constant motion. Being on the move is an important part of traveling (and the definition of it) but moving only takes you to and through places.
- Checklists are fun but might not be as gratifying as the to-do list dwindles.
- Seeing places with your eyes is a quick process but tasting foods, chatting with locals, and experiencing a culture is much more involved and requires time.
Perhaps consequently, the age of expatriation floats around the mid-30s and might reflect the trend of older travelers to stay much longer in a single destination.
Seeing More Similarities In People And Places
The more you travel to different places, the less intense the visual differences become and the more evident our human similarities come to be. The same phenomena also happens to the things we see – the monuments, historical sites, and beaches – while perhaps lovely and fascinating, are only as memorable as the experiences we connect with them.
- These sights may be architectural marvels in themselves, but it’s the human story behind them that binds our consciousness to the people and the land.
The same goes for those beautiful beaches in Boracay, Santa Cruz, or any number of the best tropical islands – after you see all of them, what makes each one stand out?
Independent And Family Travel
Statistics show that as travelers age they tend to do more of two things – travel independently and travel with their families (of those 11% travel with pets). Your meetings with other people may be more targeted (e.g. visiting friends) rather than a hostel lobby, or might start a decade of travels from a single solo trip by operating outside of what you previously thought possible.
- The typical adventure traveler is a woman, 47 years old, and wearing a size 12 dress.
- 36% of globetrotters are baby boomer travelers – over 56 years old.
As you travel (and age) your confidence grows, along with a combined stubborn development of determination. Being less worried about “what will I do by myself” you’ll learn how to travel alone and make your plans reality no matter your situation.
Don’t think you can do it? Be inspired by a few of the many traveling families, solo travelers, digital nomads, female vagabonds…as you age you’ll realize how irrelevant age can be when it comes to traveling.
There is of course useful technology as well like travel social network TripSay, language social networks, location-based social networks, Twitter, Facebook, and many local travel blogs to help keep you connected and social worldwide.
Putting Up With Less
Bad tours, dirty hotel rooms, and hidden charges might be brushed off in your earlier years but as you get older the likelier you are to speak up. Your complaining repartee and prowess will enable you to work your way around luggage fees winning battles at the ticket counter like Sun Tzu.
- The same also goes for the places you visit as well. It doesn’t make you a bad traveler to admit it’s OK to hate some places or question whether poor places are any more real than rich ones.
Hopefully as you travel and age you’ll begin to see how many people don’t have same the opportunities to do what you are doing. Although you’ll put up with less, you’ll appreciate that you can travel and embrace it. Often that leads travelers to consider volunteering abroad. (Learn how to get started with The Underground Guide To International Volunteering.)
Change Will Inevitably Happen
How your travels change as you age will vary but change will definitely happen. For better or for worse, now that part is up to you. Keep the journey going and stop aging out of travel by making the most out of your last impressions. Continually challenge yourself to overcome the obstacles without neglecting to protect your body from the physical effects of traveling so globetrotting never gets old and neither do you at heart.
[photos by: cam knows (grandmother with granddaughter), Stv. (family travel), guiliomarziale (stubborn donkey), (R)DS (airport ticket counters)]
Oh how I resemble this post. Been ages since I commented, huh? Some good insights here on how travel does change as you age, plus I like how you included stats!
You’ve been busy! It’s understandable 🙂
Good article, Anil. I especially relate to the “putting up with less” bit. And how much do I love this statement? “The typical adventure traveler is a woman, 47 years old, and wearing a size 12 dress.” That just rocks. 🙂
I was very surprised to read that but think it’s awesome as well.
Good read. As with all things, traveling style changes as you age. I’m sure now you can afford to eat better and stay at better sleeping places. More confident indeed to ask and inquire. And never stop traveling and discovering. Be inspired by Paul Theroux who continues to write travel books instead of an autobiography because one should not sum up one’s life as if it’s over, there are so many places he still wants to discover.
I think the opposite has happened to me in terms of budget 😛 but can’t complain at all.
I didn’t know quite what to expect when I saw the title, but I was pleased by your approach. As you know, I’m 58 and travel more or less perpetually, to the point of no longer having a permanent home. I find that I’ve gotten more adventurous as I’ve gotten older, and more confident. Right now I’m in China, at the beginning of 6 months in Asia, and I have to say that China is the most exhausting, challenging independent travel experience I’ve ever had. I couldn’t imagine having done it as a young woman alone, but as a solo baby-boomer, I manage to find a way around obstacles that are put in my way. Perhaps that’s the benefit of age (read experience), or maybe it’s just that I have no deadline to meet or somewhere I have to be tomorrow, but I find that travel these days s so much more enjoyable than it was when I was younger.
Barbara, I was hoping to get your perspective and appreciate you adding it here. It’s funny, before I started blogging and connecting with the online travel community I never realized how incredibly diverse it was.
Perhaps naively 10 years ago I would have thought there’s a mold or time-line within which one could only really travel intensively. Over the last few years I’ve seen that it’s not the case at all and may actually be something of the opposite.
Over the last 7 years I’ve changed from the typical RTW backpacker to a family vacation type traveler – mainly to SE Asia. I’m sure like most parents I expected our travels to drastically change as we hit the road with our kids – and the details and planning certainly have. But the feel of our travels – the joy, the trials, the magic – it’s all stayed remarkably consistent. It many ways it’s even better, as traveling with kids exposes you to a lot of things you would have otherwise missed or overlooked. People treat you quite a bit differently as well, they seem much more trusting and willing to take you in, help you out, and share things from their own lives, when they see you have children.
Oh, and great mention/link to Family On Bikes – they rock!
I seem to be doing things the wrong way around, because I stayed in the YMCA for the first time this year! When I was married we were fairly comfortably off, so we usually stayed in decent hotels. It’s been much more fun staying in B & Bs though. To be truthful my two hostel experiences weren’t that good, not in terms of meeting people anyway. Maybe they thought I was a bit odd, because I was older…..not that I give a damn!
This post is great. I’m going to reread it again in the morning when I am a bit brighter, and I’ve also sent my goddaughter a link. She’s thinking of travelling with her boyfriend and 7 year old daughter, and like a good godmother should, I’m encouraging her (might lose her mom as a friend I think!!).
I definitely want to go deeper into places and peoples, but I think I always did, just had the wrong partner to do it with!
Definitely worth encouraging, especially since there are probably many others doing the opposite!
Hey, I know that fountain! I love seeing Santiago represented anywhere, and definitely look forward to slowing down the travel pace as I get older. I’ve always been an old soul anyway.
Hope you and yours are doing well!
I’ve been wanting to use that photo for a while now and so glad I got to (nice catching it btw!)
I’m well and enjoying the *much* warmer weather in western Turkey – hope you’re well too 🙂
I can def agree with some of the points you made, as I have travelled with others from time to time I have seen the difference between someone my age and others that are older as well. Seeing more similarities in more places I think challenges you to really find the uniqueness of every country. Thats why I admire ppl who decide to step off the beaten path from time to time and not follow the common tourist routes
I agree – the more you see the more willing or inclined we tend to be to try something completely new. Also we may realize how many wonderful experiences can arise out of seemingly ordinary tasks in different places – even going to the grocery store can be a memorable cultural experience.
Great Article!!! Im not a long term traveler YET but am getting things ready to be one (i am planning a RTW trip)! I wonder how things will change for me as I do it for a longer time. I know for sure at first I will be checking things off a list even if I try not too. I think after the 1st or 2nd month then I will slow down but who knows. I am just so excited to be living my dream~
It’s a fun process to notice. Change will happen and you’ve got a good medium to document and look back on the transitions in place with your blog.
I’ve got the size 12 dress down, now I just need 10 more years to add before I’m the average female adventure traveler. Great post, Anil.
Good post Anil, particularly about moving slower, doing less but getting more out of it, looking at the world through different eyes and noticing the similarities. Actually, this is more evident with globalisation where differences between countries start to fade.
The only critique I have with some of the points is that they cater to stereotypes. Some of us didn’t put up with some of the things you mention in our 20s and continue to do so, therefore it’s not a by-product of getting older.
As for “The typical adventure traveler is a woman, 47 years old, and wearing a size 12 dress”, I take it the men are getting their ‘adventures’ elsewhere? 😛
Yes, it is all starting to look more and more alike – I often wonder how the travel landscape will be in 100 years from now and if we’re all slowly beginning to march in the same direction as a species…but another point entirely!
…and your critique is valid, it is difficult to approach the topic completely objectively. I’d say the one constant is that change does occur on many levels as we age and is reflected in our travels.
Not even going to take on what other adventures might be going on! 🙂
Interesting one, Anil, thanks so much for linking to us under families! We have just hit our 5th year of our open-ended, non-stop world tour as a family ( with no end in sight), our 19th wedding anniversary & our child who was 5 when we began just turned 10. Like Barbara, I’m 58, and thanks to a bike wreck on the Danube last August, I spent the last 11 months with a paralyzed dominant right arm, but that didn’t stop us from traveling. 😉
Not only does one gain wisdom as one ages through experience, but I think one appreciates the gift that life is, more when you are on this side of the hourglass of life. I think that adds a lot to one’s travel perspective.
I do have to agree with David though, that there is nothing better than family travel, especially long term family travel. I’ve tried it all, but this is an awesome way to live & see the world.
You really can be an adventurer at any age!
You’re welcome for the link 🙂 How is your arm doing now?
It is really sad when my 54 year old mom has convinced herself she is too old to travel. I think that along with traveling keeping you young at heart, keeping the mentality with you at all times definitely helps as well.
Thank you for sharing this post Anil!
Yikes, 54 is young! I’m sure you can convince her otherwise 😉
Great read. I’m a woman, a baby boomer, an expat, and a solo traveler. I still do both kinds of travel. Once a year I travel for a couple of months where I’m constantly on the go and it’s exhausting. My second travel adventure for the year is much slower. I find one place and rent an apartment for a couple of months. I travel around the area. I love getting to know the city or town, eating the food, meeting the locals and other expats. My travel style has definitely evolved over the years.
Sounds very similar to my pattern and love the variety as well 🙂
I loved this post, and – having just returned from a multi-generational trip – am re engergized at the prospect of future travels with extended family. Our stay in a vacation rental gave us the opportunity to bond over meals cooked together, nearby trails that were hiked in full by some and in just in part by those who chose to return home early, easy access to a nearby town for cultural explorations. I loved that flex and the chance to come together and meld into smaller groups. This is an exciting new phase of my “older” travel style that I didn’t envision in younger years. Yay!
Aging and traveling usually seems so doom and gloom the younger you are – nice to know it doesn’t have to be that way 🙂
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading this post. Anil, job well done. You truly captured the essence of traveling as we age. Unlike many of your commenters, my real travel didn’t begin until my children were grown and a life change introduced me to a man who loves to travel and experience new things. At 60, I’m trying activities like walking on a glacier in Alaska, swimming in a Mexican cenote after climbing into a cave and 4-wheeling in the mountains of Colorado. However, I’ll admit, comfort and a wee bit of luxury are important to me. I’ve earned it. Thanks for linking to My Itchy Travel Feet in your post.
Absolutely you have deserved it! It was a pleasure to link back to your site, a great resource for baby boomer travelers: