Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
I have mentioned in previous blog posts that this year marks a milestone birthday for me, and one that quite honestly had been a huge factor in my decision to pack up and go travelling on my own for as long as I can cope with/afford. And at no point did it ever enter my mind that I might be older than the other travellers I would meet along the way. After all, people travel at all ages, right? I wouldn’t be a dinosaur in comparison, surely?
Well…yes…but we are the lesser-spotted-traveller, us late twenties/early thirties lot. As rare (and precious, might I add) as a freaking diamond.
I mean, for approximately every twenty people aged 18-24 I have met since beginning my trip in New Zealand back in January, I have probably only met one or two aged 24+, even fewer 28+, and (finally) only FIVE people in THREE months have been over the age of 30.
Is this a problem?
And why are people so obsessed with age?
We’ve always suffered from an insatiable wanderlust, us humans.
People roamed the seas looking for far off shores, scaled mountains, trekked desserts; always looking for something else, somewhere new. I think it’s intrinsic to human nature, something buried deep, “in our waters” or so my mum would say.
It doesn’t wilt with age, this Wanderlust, rather it gets stronger, I think. Snakes around our insides, gets hold of our hearts and squeezes.
Sure, there are times when I feel older than some of the other travellers (particularly on the East Coast of Australia which on certain occasions it has felt like being in Ibiza or Benidorm with a bunch of rowdy Brits) but that doesn’t mean it’s a problem, it is simply different. And at times (Byron Bay, I’m thinking of you) it’s been downright hilarious.
I have been incredibly lucky to have spent time with a huge mix of people from all over the world and of varying ages.
Because that’s the point of travelling, isn’t it? To spend time with people you might never get to normally (although I am beginning to realise that my tolerance for terrible music and watered down, overpriced alcohol has waned over the years. Whereas most of my younger travel buddies are keen to spend nights, and money, in hostel bars, I’m a little less inclined to do so on a nightly basis) and I’ve spent days hanging out with people a decade younger than me.
But that’s the funny thing about age. There are “old” young people and “young” old people. On a recent sailing trip to Whitsunday, it was the older members of the group who were the last ones standing.
I hadn’t even thought about my age before I decided to travel. I’ve always been a bit of a terrible wanderer and not brilliant at “settling down” (much to the dismay of my parents who I’m sure would like me to just chill out, get a job I like, and then they can stop worrying) for extended periods of time but I never thought there was a certain age where I’m supposed to travel or stop wanting to see the world or just be content with staying in one place.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s never intended with any malice, the questioning – “if you don’t mind me asking” – it always begins, before the blow is delivered – “what made you want to travel at your age?” I’m always a little taken aback, unsure how to answer because I never thought about travelling in terms of “my age,” actually I felt quite the opposite, most of the travel bloggers I’d been gorging on before my departure were women in their mid to late twenties.
It’s true that Australia in particular (New Zealand not so much, and I’m sure Indonesia will be similar) seems to attract a large number of (mostly) German and English “gap year” students, so when you stumble across one of us older twenties/early thirties creatures, it’s a little more unusual.
But I like being part of this later crowd of travellers. My trip isn’t the “next step” after high school or university, it isn’t to get the travelling bug out of my system before I settle down to pursue my chosen career or resume my studies; my desire to travel stemmed from a passion to see more of the world while I am in a position to do so. And I’m not sure I’m done (Asia and South America, anyone?)
But I am no saint, I have been guilty of the “age issue” too. In the beginning, when someone told me they were under 24, I would get a bit of a sinking feeling – what on earth would we have in common? Would I just feel like a relic the entire time (I mean, these people were BORN IN THE MID 90s FFS)? But then I spent time with people of all ages: younger people, older people, people the same age and stage of life as me – and you realise that this age thing, it doesn’t really matter.
What do you think about age and travelling?
Are you a younger traveller on a gap year or a traveller in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s?
Are you surprised when people ask you your age and seem shocked?
Do you, like me, think age has nothing to do with the desire to travel?
Tell me your travel plans. Where are your best – and worst – destinations for all those who aren’t on a gap year?
Let me know here or check out my Twitter page @EmmaYatesBadley or Facebook page Emma Is Writing A Novel. It’s always nice to have visitors!