One of the things that we have noticed recently is the increasing number of older independent travellers on the road. Travel is no longer the domain of gap year traveller. People of all ages are out there creating their own unique adventures around the planet.
We have been travelling long-term, between jobs, since our twenties. At the moment, we have no plans to slow down. It seems that the more places we go, the more there is to see.
A gap year can now apply to people of all ages and walks of life. Independent Travellers range in age from teens to seventies (and beyond).
On a trip to New Zealand, an encounter with an Australian woman in her mid-sixties evolved into a friendship. She was travelling alone on a backpacker’s Kiwi Express bus. Not only had she tried white water river rafting, but she’d also done a bungee jump in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. Her husband hadn’t wanted to travel, so she had taken off on her own. She was having an amazing time pushing her boundaries and learning more about herself and the world.
When we were in India, we met a teacher in her fifties who had taken a career break. She had travelled through New Zealand, motor-biked in Cambodia and rented an apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Her next stop was Africa. She was travelling on the cheap and having the time of her life.
These are typical examples of the many more mature travellers now roaming the world.
Making the Most of Life
These days the economic situation means that redundancy or ‘being let go’ is an option for many. Instead of investing in a new kitchen or adding a conservatory, some people are grabbing life by the throat and booking year-long round-the-world tickets!
The internet has made everything so much more accessible for travellers. From researching for trips to gaining inspiration from all the great blogs out there, everything is available at the touch of a finger.
Arranging independent travel has never been so easy. Hostelling is now for everyone. The ‘Youth’ in Youth Hostel Association has become redundant. There are thousands of hostels throughout the world that welcome people of all ages.
Many older travellers are in a better position to travel from a financial perspective. Even those who haven’t paid off their mortgages can get their monthly payment covered by renting out while they are away. Taking a career break if you are able to, is a perfect escape route – you can be safe in the knowledge that you have a job to return to.
The Spirit of Adventure
Of course, some countries require a little more resilience to travel in than others, and many people prefer to visit these places when they are younger. However, this doesn’t stop the many older travellers who can be found trekking through the jungles of Peru or taking overnight buses in India.
It’s great that the spirit of adventure is alive and kicking in both young and old. Furthermore, there is nothing more inspiring than talking to a 75 year old backpacker who is still passionate about life.
Benefits of Being an Older Traveller
When you are older, you know yourself better than when you were in your twenties. Furthermore, you don’t want to waste time and effort doing the things that don’t interest you. For instance, these days there are many tourist attractions that we wouldn’t queue up for hours to see. We would rather spend our days seeking out our own travel ‘gems’. In other words, you become more discerning.
Knowing what to take becomes so much easier with experience! Back in the day, we were both carrying ridiculously large backpacks round the world! It has taken years of experience to hone our packing skills. These days, we both travel with a day pack each, no matter how long the trip.
Travelling for the Right reasons
Mature nomads are usually travelling for the right reasons. Naturally, when you are younger, your priorities are different. Travelling can be as much about partying as exploring new places. Most older travellers have made a conscious decision to explore the world, rather than it merely being a rite of passage.
It may be (and there are exceptions!) that at a slightly advanced age, your days of dorms and fleapit hotels are over and you require a little more comfort. There are plenty of alternatives. You can housesit, stay in mid-range hotels (which in many countries are ultra-cheap) or Airbnb’s. Many hostels have en-suite rooms these days too. Generally, we mix it up. We also like to camp every now and again to stay in touch with nature!
With age, you become more aware of your mortality. When you are in your twenties, the years stretch ahead of you like a blank canvas. You have all the time in the world. When you hit your forties and more so your fifties, you become aware that time is limited. You may be one of the lucky ones and be white water river rafting down the Zambezi when you are 75. Realistically, you may not want to, or be physically able to be adventuring in quite the same style at that age as you were when you were in your twenties. That is why it is vital to get out there while you are reasonably physically fit – you don’t know what the future may bring.
We still have an abundance of travel dreams to realise, and we are determined to make them come true before arthritis sets in!
Hit the Road!
Whatever your age, making the decision to purchase a brand new state-of-the-art backpack or dig out the trusty and dusty old backpack from the attic is one of the best decisions you will ever make. Happy Travels! 🌍