Everything Else

An almost 30 something traveler’s perspective

I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I only have one more birthday until I turn 30. It’s not that I’m one of these individuals who is scared about getting older or vain over loosing their looks, etc. It’s more a matter of asking myself, “where have my 20s gone?” because truly they have been a blur, some of it good, some of it not so much.

Although this post would perhaps be better suited with me sharing it a year from now, the reason I’m doing so currently has to do with the numerous blogs I check out each week that are written by individuals in their early 20s, individuals whose travel lifestyles could not be more different than my own.

I’m not old by any means but I do work full-time and so when I travel somewhere I want to stay in above average accommodations, even luxurious ones when I can swing it. I do not want to stay in someplace where 1) I feel unsafe, 2) bugs and/or vermin are my unwanted roommates and 3) I feel dirty each night I go to sleep due to the lack of “cleanliness” at said place. One of the bloggers who I follow talked about her recent “nightmare” accommodations at two hostels in Southeast Asia where rats, rat excrement, and cockroaches were “all around.” Although she obviously succeeded in sharing these experiences in a comical light after the fact, as a female, I know that she as a female would have been majorly freaking out when this was occurring (males too, I don’t know many males that are ever like “oh yay, rats”).

Sleeping with complete strangers? Done with that!

Here’s the thing, I did my “time” in places like that, places that personify the definition of “wretched.” They were dirty (hostel in Rome), they had insects (mutant like grasshoppers all over the walls in Costa Rica), they had the dirty, disgusting insect variety (cockroaches at host family’s house in Costa Rica). I survived…well, at the time it didn’t feel that way…but I did. I’m not going to lie and say these “experiences” made me stronger because that would be a load of crock. They were experiences I could have certainly done without. However, now that I’m older, I would never willingly opt for these kinds of accommodations again. If it comes down to traveling less overall, spending less time in a destination, doing without a souvenir or a visit to an overpriced attraction, I will do so.

My kind of accommodations!

These “young” bloggers do a lot of traveling, I will say that. But how they do it is not something I have interest in. When they embark on their “massive” adventure they have often been saving for months (possibly) longer and doing without a lot of things I need to stay sane in my everyday life (i.e. going to the movies, seeing a play, buying myself things, eating out regularly). Yes, it certainly comes down to “personal preference” but that’s not my preference.

And of course there is the universal culture phenomenon known as “party hard” something of which I’ve never been into and certainly am not going to “adopt” as an almost 30 year old. When I studied abroad I was not like some of the students in my program who it seemed spent most of their money on drinking and really didn’t go a lot of places. While I went out a bit I always made sure to have money for the things I couldn’t get at home like a weekend trip to Paris, a week in Italy, trips to other cities in Spain.

Not to mention that for me, food has become such an important part of my travels. Although inexpensive meals often offer some of the best food you have on a trip, I also like to indulge whenever possible. So while I greatly loved my meal I had on Oahu at a hole in the wall Korean place, I also adored my elegant meal I had at a French restaurant in Old Montreal. Not to mention there was no way in heck I was not going to have afternoon tea at one of the most historic hotels in Hawaii even though it cost $40 a person…for tea and treats essentially.

Amuse-Bouche meet galbi

But all in all, the reason why I don’t want to be like these type of bloggers was perfectly summed by by one of them:

“I’m tired of almost always sharing my space with someone else. I’m tired of cheap, unhealthy food. I’m tired of spending hours searching for the least expensive room/flight/ticket. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t have to worry about the money.” 

However, I don’t mean to say that this blogger demographic is all the early 20s variety. I know there’s plenty of backpackers and “around the world trekkers” that are in their 30s and upwards. I’m simply commenting on the bloggers I have encountered who are in their early 20s.

When I travel, when I book plane tickets, reserve accommodations, I don’t do so entirely blindly like there’s no tomorrow. But if there’s a restaurant I want to eat at, I will. If there’s a souvenir I want, I will get it. If there’s a hotel that just looks perfect, I’ll stay there. Yes, the young “party hard” traveler demographic may go to more countries than me, see more amazing sights than me, and yet I don’t feel I’m having to sacrifice anything to do so not to mention knowing that my feet are not black (the number of backpackers I’ve seen whose soles of their feet were jet black is just disgusting) and I am not sleeping amongst rat excrement and cockroaches is always a plus.

I’m not a travel snob, I’ve simply grown up and know what I want and what I will not do without when it comes to my favorite activity.

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  • Reply
    December 12, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I enjoyed this post. I am starting to feel the same way as you. However, my boyfriend asked me the last trip if we could do a “budget” trip soon. Not saying that our trips are expensive, but some of them have been lately. It is mainly due to our expensive habits now, along with less flexibility to get time off of work!

    In Ireland for one night, we stayed in a hostel. I did ask myself if I was getting too old for it on my FB page. One of my friends replied that I was. I am in my late twenties and am going through similar feelings of budget and comfort.

    • Reply
      Julie Tulba
      December 12, 2013 at 2:40 am

      Thanks! The topic has been on my mind a ton as of late.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone in their 30s/40s staying at a hostel if they don’t mind…but for me, it’s just personal preference. Like you I have expensive habits but I remind myself two things-I work full time so I definitely should be able to indulge and not have to worry about pinching pennies although obviously if my circumstances ever changed, pinch pennies I sure would!

      I do feel there’s a difference between budget trips and the travel lifestyles that a lot of the young backpackers adopt. The former is “normal,” the latter, extreme (i.e. going without full meals, clean accommodations, etc). I guess for me that since I don’t have beacoup amounts of time off, when I do travel, I just want to enjoy myself. Now if I ever did luck into having four weeks of vacation a year, my tune might be different!

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