FYI: You Don’t Need To Do All Your Traveling In Your Twenties

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By RACHEL DRINKWATER

Brands, Pinterest, Social Media, Self-Help Books, Online Lists; they all paint a very alluring picture of the life we ‘should’ be living. In our always-on, always-connected lives, we’re constantly bombarded with reminders of what we could be doing with our lives, where we should be with our careers and our peers’ successes and experiences pop up on our devices 24-7. This has led to a serious pandemic of FOMO

In a recent survey, carried out by JWT, nearly 70% of US and UK 18-35 year olds claim to experience FOMO. That’s a lot of people putting themselves under a lot of pressure to achieve lifestyles that social media and the internet are telling them they should have.

Despite it being linked to stress, anxiety, and depression, marketers continue to use FOMO as a technique to encourage spending on their lifestyle brands. STA Travel recently ran a tongue-in-cheek campaign, openly encouraging customers to buy their trips as a ‘cure’ to FOMO.

And it works. I get a pang of something when I see my friend’s travel photos on Facebook. I see an advert featuring a road trip and I’m all set to drop everything and travel the world for a living.

I love to travel. If someone gave me a stack of money, I’d immediately buy plane tickets with it. If I get any time off from work, I consider it a waste if I haven’t got as far away from home as possible and seen something I’ve never seen before. So every time I see my friends’ photos from their trips and adventures, I can’t help but get a little self-doubt that maybe I should have travelled more, or should be traveling more, or that somehow I’ve not quite managed to get my life into a place where I can travel as much as I want to.

Then I remember: these photos are the highlights. These friends don’t travel every week; the photos are snapshots of their lives.

Which leads me nicely onto the pressure 20-somethings are under to try to travel the entire world before they hit the dreaded three-oh. The internet is saturated with lists and those annoying scroll-through galleries entitled “places to see before you’re 30” and “30 places to visit before you’re 30”, as if when the clock strikes midnight on the eve of your 30th birthday, government officials turn up at your door and burn your passport in front of you.

Some even title their “30 before 30” list as their “bucket list.” Given that this term comes from the English saying “before I kick the bucket,” I think this is a particularly negative view of Life (or not!) After Thirty.

Having survived my 30th birthday, I can reliably inform you that I was not interrupted by a sinister knock on the door, demanding I give up all rights to travel. I did not wake up the following morning with a burning desire to lock my doors and never leave the country again and I certainly didn’t feel that I’d lost my sense of adventure. In fact, aside from a mammoth hangover from drinking way too much champagne at a party the previous night, I felt absolutely no different to any other day.

That’s not to say that traveling in my thirties is exactly the same as traveling in my twenties. My life is different now, I’m a different person with different interests and priorities. I mean, drinking free shots of Raki in a bar in Malia really doesn’t seem like a good idea anymore (mainly because I remember the hangover from the last time I did it.) But I can honestly say that, for me, traveling in my 30s has been truly amazing so far, mainly because I’m no longer skint (more on that in a minute) and I’m older and I’m wiser.

Skint, for the American readers: having no money or having little money available.

In my 20s, swimming in a sea of university debt and struggling to make ends meet in my entry-level graduate job, I was always trying to find the cheapest deal, the most cost-efficient way of traveling, the most economic accommodation, and so on. Even if that meant taking four different flights and 24 hours to travel to Greece (which is a 4-hour direct flight from the UK) or staying in a quite frankly terrifying cockroach-infested apartment.

That’s not to say I throw money around now, but I can definitely afford to splash a little bit to get a hotel in the nice part of town and a direct flight, leaving more time for exploring and less time for traveling. I can also afford to do stuff when I get there.

I’m also older and wiser now I’m in my thirties. That’s not to say I’ve become boring, but I have learned from holidays in my 20s that were ruined by sunstroke, heatstroke, ridiculous hangovers, sunburn and food poisoning. I definitely wouldn’t waste an entire day of potential exploring lying in the shade with a killer hangover now. My friends and I have also been scammed a few times and I know the warning signs (i.e. the desperate-looking guy on the beach probably hasn’t lost his passport and probably doesn’t need $5 to get a taxi to the police station, quad bike hire places do not need to take your passport, and you should never let anyone leave your sight with your credit card in Vietnam).

I’ve found that having more experience means I’m a lot calmer when things do go wrong and I have a much more chill outlook when plans change. A different plan just means a different adventure to have.

So, the point I’m getting to is that traveling is awesome at all ages. With the exception of an ill-advised holiday to Ibiza when I was 25, I treasure every trip I’ve taken, from the beach holidays with my parents as a child, through to the epic road trip around California and Nevada with my husband last year. Travel has nothing to do with age, and I feel empathy for people in their twenties who are frequently fed the message that thirty means the end of fun and adventure. It really, REALLY doesn’t. Whatever your age, go out, see the world, experience everything and don’t worry. You have plenty of time and plenty of world to see in it… and no one can tell you to stop doing it when you reach a particular age.

{featured image via unsplash}

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