Backpacking in your 30’s – A Survival Guide

It’s been a gruelling, event filled bus / plane / boat / horse-back journey from your previous destination. Check in is done, your bags are (semi) securely dumped in your room, passport & gadgets – aside from your phone obviously – all locked away safely. Regardless of the real time it’s 12 o’clock somewhere so you head down to the hostel bar to make some pals. In-between glugs of whatever the local beer is, you gingerly pop your head up meerkat style to see what’s what.

There’s a group of lairy twenty-somethings playing drinking games, wearing a combination of brightly coloured vests whilst a wannabe Vance Joy strums some Beatles song or another on the un-tuned hostel guitar. Not for you. Tucked away in the corner are a spattering of possibly Europeans wearing hiking gear despite the fact you’re at a beach hostel, locked mesmerisingly into their phones. Also not for you. At the bar itself, there’s a loud – possibly American – man, befriending the staff whether they like it or not. Nope.

Luckily at this point, you’ve seen it all before. You know how to pick your battles. This is the more mature you, this is backpacking in your much wiser 30’s. Party? Sure. Just not 3-days on the bounce non stop boozing with 2-hours sleep each night, or your liver will almost certainly fail on the spot. Repatriation is bloody expensive.

Here’s a handy cut out and keep guide of how to survive as an ageing traveller.

Party selectively

As much as we hate to admit; our twenties are fast becoming a distant memory. Gone are the days of beers just before lunch being acceptable for weeks on end, bar crawls and rowdy hostel parties. You’re probably a seasoned drinker by now, sure, but your hangovers have likely matured to near death experience level.

Pick your Hostel wisely

Avoid staying anywhere which remotely mentions the two dreaded words: ‘Party Hostel’. Ignore this advice at your peril. I made this mistake in Cancun (of all places) a few years ago and I felt like an observer of a scene somewhere between The Walking Dead and Shameless. In ten years I’ve seemingly evolved from loud participant into greying older guy whinging about the music selection. But seriously, are you really playing Justin Bieber?

Beer Pong: The national sport of a Party Hostel. Every. Single. Night.

Avoid Hostel group tours

Fancy going to the local Instagram spot? Sure. Hike to the nearest waterfalls? Sounds good! How about on an overpriced tour with a group of 20 people? Absolutely not. The easy way to backpack is to take the hostel up on their widely advertised ‘deals’. The downside is that you’ll probably be surrounded by kids on their gap yah, looking for the most stress free option of getting to as many of the Lonely Planet recommended hot spots in 24-hours as humanly possible, before zipping off to their next country post haste. Grab a local bus, walk, or scoot your way towards your must see places before the selfie-stick brandishing hoards arrive.

Don’t entertain the usual backpacking nonsense

Whereas back in the day, you’d have felt obliged to actually sit and listen to Tarquin’s nonsense about how he’d ‘found himself’ in Goa, or explaining the complexities of ballet after not having slept for 4-days. You are now 100% allowed to just not entertain any of the usual backpacker bullshit. Someone boring you? Just pretend you’re a bit deaf in your old age.

Treat yourself every now and then

This is quite a large assumption, but by the time you’re thirty something it’s highly likely you’ve got a bit of money to spend. Congratulations – you don’t have to stay in the 20 bed mixed dorm anymore! You’ve officially made it. An upgrade to your finest Private Room please. For one night at least.

Photo Credit: Lonely Planet

Bring a loud Bluetooth Speaker

What’s a surefire way of drowning out all of the questionable EDM & Noughties chart music? A top of the range JBL speaker which kicks out some surprisingly loud DB’s. What’s that DJ? I can’t hear you over these bangin’ choons.

Anything to add? Or any tips? Please pop me an email to >>>

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