NeonBroads: Traveling in Your 30's
Traveling in your 30's is liberating! You no longer care what people think, and you're free to explore and truly immerse yourself in the culture that surrounds you. Fender and Maloney share their reasons why traveling in your 30's does NOT suck... and why it's actually, well, perfect.
Are we too old for this?
Oof, our backs are sore! Maloney and I woke up achy AF after an insane day prepping an art gallery in Provence for a new exhibition. Watching her paw through a six-month supply of medication and old lady vitamins has inspired me to address the giant, wrinkly elephant in the room:
"Good morning, Maloney," I say.
Kidding! The real question, of course, is whether we are, in fact, too old for this shit.
When you travel budget-style -- hostels, cheapo airlines, work-for- stay deals (hence the gallery prep) -- older people just assume you're a student. Except for students. They call you "older people"; and then ask you to please turn down the Phil Collins. (That is a true story.)
The 30s is sort of a no man's land in Long-Term Travel Land. We don't (want to) fit in with the roving packs of baby-faced Aussies too drunk to remember the words to their own national anthem. And we're at least a decade, not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars, short of wealthy retired traveler status. In Aix-en- Provence, where we're crashing for the next month, there are basically just those two types of people -- so we really stand out.
On our first night here, our Dutch friend and gallery coworker Maarten was showing us around the city's cafe-strewn squares and narrow, picturesque little alleys. We asked whether there were any clubs or nightlife in town. "Yes," he said, seriously (because he's Dutch). "I've been. But I find I'm a little old for them. I'm 22"; (I laughed so hard I might have been clinically dead for several seconds.)
And the hits just keep on coming.
In Prague, we accidentally paid to walk up 30 stories of narrow spiral staircase to the top of a castle bell tower. The 20-something former Marine we went with was fine (seriously, dudes in their 20s love us). We were, like, two more steps from throwing up.
Maloney signed up for a "nighttime river cruise" that turned out to be a booze cruise for 19-year- old amateur alcoholics. She spent the whole night trying not to judge people booting off the side -- because judging is what older people do.
Our sweet new French friend Audrey was halfway through telling a story about how "older people" view politics when she suddenly covered her mouth and started giggling -- because we were the age group she was talking about. Later, when she found out how old Maloney was, she (seemingly involuntarily?) exclaimed that Maloney could be her mother. (FTR, so could I. But that would be sort of fucked up.)
But here's the thing about traveling in your 30s -- and beyond: Who cares?
Seriously. When I traveled in my 20s, I was so self-conscious about all the things I didn't know and about what people thought of me. At this point in a person’s life, you realize that it doesn't matter. Its super liberating.
There's also just less pressure to see everything. For one, we can always come back – maybe even with friends in two. And, while we obviously love a good landmark-slash- photo-op, this round of traveling has been much more about experiences: trying weird street food, hunting down the perfect little bar, and experiencing foreign ways of life.
Plus -- and forgive the brag -- I'm a little proud to be doing this at my age. Traveling in your 20s is sooooo cliché (kidding, of course! It's wonderful.) But travelers in their 30s are definitely norm-busters and adventurous. Sacrificing something to travel -- comforts, routines, time with our good friends -- makes us appreciate these new experiences much more than we could have ten years ago.
So, basically, no -- we are NOT too old for this shit. We are the perfect age (and so are you!).
Now, I'm going to go rub some Bengay on this shoulder. Maybe take a little nap. And, when I wake up, we're going to head to the beach in a rental car -- because unlike our new 20-something friends, we're old enough to get one.