40-Something Travel: Stories from 18 Travel Bloggers
I turned 40 in May, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m in my 40s. So I asked some of the most inspirational travel bloggers I know to share their stories of 40-something travel to show myself and others that age has nothing to do with adventure.
Meet the 40-Something Travel Bloggers:
Brianna, Casual Travelist
I too am still wrapping my head around the fact that I’m a newer member of the over 40 club. I’ve always traveled within the boundaries set by having a career, so I’ve become a master of weekend breaks and squeezing everything I can out of weeklong trips abroad. I’ve worked for the same company for 10 years, and with that seniority, I have a cushier paycheck and more time off which means I can indulge in some pretty epic adventures over the coming years. Visiting Machu Picchu, trekking the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, chasing glaciers in Greenland or a safari in South Africa; travel during my 40s will only be limited by my imagination.
Tara, Travel Far Enough
I am a traveller. I’ve always been a traveller, but life got in the way of my travel plan early in life. After a manic time working corporate America, I realised at 43 that I was not living the life I’d dreamed of. I was losing my family, my health and my friends because the 70-hour work week was sucking out my soul. I didn’t like the person I’d become as a result. Add in some life-affirming moments to remind me how short life is, I decided it was time to make a change.
I ditched the desk to become the writer and photographer I‘d always wanted to be. When my daughter left for university early in 2017, I decided to leave the nest too. With a travel blog to support the travel fund, I now travel full time. I’m currently on a 10-month Australian road trip with my husband and plan to continue the road-tripping in N.Z. in January before I walk the Camino de Santiago in April. After that, the plan is a mystery but it will be a continuation of full-time travel. I’ll keep doing that until I get sick of it. (Although I don’t see that happening, like, ever!)
While I love tent camping, I find the old bones can’t hack it for too long, so I find balance through housesitting and AirBnB. I gave up the hostel life of my 20s for the most part. I’ve lived the last 10 years cleaning up after others in the bathroom, so I’m over having to do that. Give me a five-star hotel to review, though, and I’m all over it.
Julie and Steve, 2checkingout
The travel bug is contagious. And I infected Steve when we met in 2009. We were both restless, longing for that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you get from being out of your comfort zone. Almost 40, adventure was calling. So we set a date 1,375 days in the future (yes really) tied into Steve’s daughter leaving for university and hatched our exit plan. We downsized. We saved. We researched.
Come D-Day, we sold, donated and gave away our worldly possessions. In February 2015, we said our goodbyes and set off for a six week road-trip in our 1975 VW Kombi around our home country, New Zealand. The next two years whizzed by filled with many highlights: snorkelling with turtles and seals in the Galapagos, getting down and dusty at our first Burning Man, walking 800km on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and volunteering with elephants in Thailand.
My 20-year-old self would be proud! Back then I turned down a gap year with friends. Lack of money perhaps. But more likely a lack of confidence. So I jumped on the corporate ladder and started working, savouring my holidays like a breath of fresh air.
Now, life is very different. Now feels like the right time for me to travel. A little life experience goes a long way. The cash we saved doesn’t hurt either! It’s a cliche but travel does change you. Even when you start in your 40s. We are both more relaxed, accepting and grateful. We seek out experiences rather than stuff. And we have no plans to stop.
John, From Real People
I think I must have gotten more interesting as I have gotten older. In my 20s I was a pretty boring kind of guy when it came to travelling. At the age of 20, I met my wife to be. Ironically, on that first evening we bonded over a debate about who had been to the most interesting places. Equally ironically, despite thinking we were cool and hip when it came to travel, we really just following the crowd on package holidays and safe city breaks.
As a couple in our early 20s, our first trips were straight out of a Thomas Cook holiday brochure. Zakynthos, nice beach but we didn’t get much past the tourist spots. A very forgettable trip to Fuerteventura should have been a wake up call. We found nothing but pizza or British food in a whole week. We took cliched city breaks to Paris and Rome, where we took in the top guide book sights, ate at chain restaurants and went home.
Looking back, I think we were just young and lacking in the confidence to experience places properly. We were terrified of not speaking the language and played things just too safe. Fast forward to today. I’m 45 now, and our travel world is a little bit more adventurous these days. As our daughters got older, my wife and I set out to help them explore the world with us as a family. We realised, perhaps a bit too late, that the true joy of travel comes not just from what you see but the people you meet. From Bosnia to Vietnam, we’ve had a blast. Our girls are heading towards their 20s now and thankfully are so much more adventurous and daring that we ever dared to be.
Kirsty, Kathmandu & Beyond
I’m fortunate to have travelled a lot throughout my life, and I’ve transitioned from frequent traveller and backpacker in my 20s to full-time traveller in my 40s. I’ve been travelling for more than 25 years (if you take family holidays out of the equation), initially solo and now with my husband, Mark. There are so many things that are different now compared to when I did my first year-long solo trip to Asia more than 20 years ago!
As well as travelling with a partner rather than alone, without question one of the biggest changes is related to technology – on that first trip, there was no wifi and no smart phones, and travellers sat talking to each other in the evenings instead of having their noses stuck into Facebook or Instagram (which of course also didn’t exist). My only written communication with friends and family was letters and postcards which I picked up from a pre-determined Poste Restante mail service, every four-to-six weeks. There was no Skype or FaceTime. I carried a BT charge card which I used to phone my parents every two-to-three weeks, but there were times when my parents didn’t hear from me for up to a month. Today my almost every move can be tracked via social media and instant messaging.
About six months before my fortieth birthday we left the UK to pursue a new life and more adventure in Nepal and beyond. That was almost nine years ago, and we’ve been travelling full-time with no fixed base ever since! So far my 40s have been an incredible journey which has taken me to 67 countries across four continents and it’s a journey with no end in sight.
Ed and Jennifer, Coleman Concierge
How has travel changed at 40 from when we were 20? For us (and most people in the world) we had fewer resources when we were 20. We accommodated that by living where we wanted to travel and having our travel activities be a part of our everyday routine.
Our adult travel together began when we met in Tucson. We knew that we were going to see the world and not just the corner we happened to be living in. The plans for our 40s are complicated and layered. We balance health, money, fitness, and family in our quest to see and do everything. Instead of looking for a job where we want to live, we are looking for location-independent income. Instead of exploring our backyard, we are exploring the world.
A prime example of this is our Thailand trip. We went on supported, multi day bike rides with local guides. We went glamping in the rain forest to visit with elephants and sleep on jungle lakes. We island hopped from Phuket to Krabi, diving and exploring as we went. The budget was definitely expanded, but it was just our creature comforts. Travelling with local guides allowed us to see more and do more than we could have experienced on our own in our 20s.
We always put activities first in our travel, and now with our adult resources, we can see more and do more. We realize how much we like our private room with its own bathroom attached. We will take a taxi instead of the public bus most of the time. Instead of a hard-core adventure that has never been commercialized, we are on the lookout for unique and beautiful ways to expand our comfort zone and experience the world.
Delphine, Lester Lost
The year is 1996, and I am finding my arrival in Vietnam quite stressful. A degree of fear hasn’t left me since I landed and I am wondering: Why am I doing this?
Well, I do it because that’s what I do. Since I was 16, I have travelled on my own, initially visiting friends or relatives. Gradually, I became more independent, and started going completely into the unknown. The anguish is always there, at the beginning. Then the anguish turns to excitement, joy even.
That trip to Vietnam changed my life, I met and fell in love with an Australian traveller. I moved to Australia the following year. After that, travel became an expensive exercise limited to visiting family in France.
Twenty years on, I want more travel in my life, because that’s what I love. I love the freedom, the unknown, the ability to single-minded choices. In 1996, travellers didn’t carry laptops and smartphones, and guidebooks were still much in use. I was never completely on the shoestring, I liked to have a private room with ensuite and didn’t mind taking a tourist bus as opposed to a local bus, even if it cost more. I appreciate the comfort even more now and no longer wish to be a backpacker. I am more bed & breakfast or AirBnB than youth hostel. But I’m still a traveller. The anguish at the beginning turns into giddiness at making discoveries and meeting new people.
Now, I seek out an internet connection as if it were the most impressive pagoda in the world, and I drag my luggage on wheels rather than on my back. I carry a laptop, a Kindle, a smartphone, and numerous chargers. I tell stories on social media hoping someone will pay attention. Most of all, I enjoy my own company, I love taking photographs, I am moved by beautiful landscapes and sunsets, and I love spotting wildlife. I like to climb mountains and see the world from up high. One thing survives from the old days though… the guidebook… I still buy a new guidebook for each trip.
Julie, Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal
Twenty years ago I set off with a backpack, one way ticket and a stash of traveller’s cheques on what turned out to be a 16-month solo round-the-world adventure. I didn’t even have an email account and relied heavily on Lonely Planet and recommendations from fellow travellers to decide where to go and stay and what to do. If I made advance bookings at hostels it was by phone and I ate so many packs of three-minute noodles that I can hardly bear to look at them now. I swore that I would never backpack again – despite regularly posting packages of photos and souvenirs home to lighten my pack, it was often so heavy I couldn’t lift it onto my back.
These days, a suitcase with wheels, advance bookings made online at clean accommodations, ideally with a private bathroom, and easy access to cash machines make travel much easier and more comfortable. Most of my trips are within Portugal, the country I live in and write about, and I usually have the freedom and flexibility of travelling by car. Google Maps is a lifesaver as is being able to access practical information about sights and destinations online via smartphone.
The experiences I seek in my 40s are more sedate. I’ve always enjoyed hiking and do a lot of that in Portugal. However, I’d much rather go on a food tour, craft workshop or winery visit than white-water rafting. I have less time nowadays, and I cram lots into my itineraries. When I travel solo, I feel guilty if I relax during the day although I slow down when I’m with family or friends. I sometimes miss the luxury of simply hanging out somewhere for a few extra days just because I was having a good time.
Henry, Old Enough to Know
When I reflect on the differences between traveling in my 20s vs. my 40s, I’m pleasantly surprised to realize that mentally it’s much the same. Don’t get me wrong, there are fewer hangovers, and I don’t find myself nostalgic for the sound of drunken coupling in the next dorm bed over. What has never changed is the fun of planning, the excitement of heading to an airport, and the feeling of awe that comes from experiencing something unique and spectacular for the first time.
In my 20s it was easy to take off for a year with no obligations or permanent home base other than possessions left in my parent’s basement. Now I have more of an awareness that I’m going to want to retire someday and not worry about work. Retirement savings, a mortgage, etc., means that budgeting for travel competes with other priorities. I have a career that I enjoy, a dog, and a great network of local friends that I enjoy spending time with. This means that I’m taking three or four shorter trips each year, strategically choosing dates to maximize vacation time.
I find that I appreciate each day of travel far more than I did when I was younger. Previously a 24-hour bus ride to save the cost of a $50 flight was a no-brainer. Now those hours are better spent on activities. Individual trips now have more of a purpose than just wandering with no goal in mind. Since I’ve turned 40, typical trips have included climbing Mont Blanc, getting my sailing certification in Grenada, or hiking the Dingle Way in Ireland. Who knows what the future holds for my travels though; I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself taking a six-month trip somewhere for my 50th birthday!
Alyson, World Travel Family
At 45 I set out into the world with a backpack, two small children, my husband and a heart full of hopes and dreams. We sold the bulk of our possessions to create a new way of living and give the kids an amazing education. We had no plan and no time schedule, just four one-way tickets. Last year I celebrated my 50th birthday in Bangkok by getting myself a traditional Thai tattoo and blessing. It seemed like a good way to mark my half century and lifetime of travel.
My husband and I took our first RTW some 15 years previously and little has changed in our travel style. We still love the cheap guest houses of Asia, we’re still fit and strong, and we still like a few beers in the evening. The world has changed, travel has changed, but not really us. We may look older but inside we’re still savoring every experience in the same way, maybe more-so because we also have the joy of sharing it with our kids.
My 40s were an amazing decade, I had a new baby and a two-year-old to enjoy on my 40th birthday. Two years later we emigrated from London to Australia, leaving behind my working life and respectable profession in hospital science. A couple of years later, I started the travel blog that now provides my family’s full-time income and 12 months of saving later we hit the road. We’ve trekked in sight of Everest, toured India, crossed the Atlantic by cruise ship, run half marathons in tropical heat, and showed the kids the wonders of Ancient Egypt among other things.
My 40s have been, probably, my best decade so far but I’m hoping that my 50s will be even better. The financial and physical freedom we now enjoy is an incredible thing, and I’ll keep on travelling until I wear this older, wiser body out. I’m taking my 13 year old to Everest Base Camp next spring, don’t ever think life ends at 40!
Caz, y Travel Blog
I always dreaded turning 40, until I turned it. I realised I was heading into the greatest years of my life. It’s because I now no longer care what people think. I’m very confident with who I am and what I want.
Of course, that means more travel, and turning 40 has not slowed me down. Just like adulthood, and then children didn’t either. I am traveling more than ever as I’ve created a lifestyle business around travel. I started traveling 20 years ago as a backpacker. I lived and worked in five different countries around the world, backpacking in between. While some activities have changed – strenuous hikes and wild party nights – that’s mostly because I now travel with kids, not because of my age. I do travel with a little more comfort now though, but still enjoy roughing it through camping.
Possibly the biggest difference is, when I was younger, I think I was searching or running mostly through my travels. Now I feel grounded, so travel feels more of an exploration or satisfaction of what I want – I know what that is now. So I guess it’s more of an allowing or being experience rather than a searching.
I’ve learned much from my life of travel. Here’s a list of our best travel tips. Mostly, it’s helped teach me that I hold all the answers within me, I’m powerful beyond measure, and the world is a beautiful place with kind and loving people. I love connecting more deeply to myself, others, and nature through travel which is why nothing will ever stop me.
My wanderlust was awakened as a teenager. Aged 18, I flew the nest and headed to Belgium to become an au-pair. I would take every opportunity to explore with my meagre earnings, often setting off with no idea where I would end up, and jumping on the most affordable train. Of course, this is back when travel really was an adventure!
Remember the days when we used to use Rough Guides to plan our trips because there was no such thing as the internet? Or how we travelled incommunicado because mobile phones were the preserve of the rich? It all seems so brave now in the age of Google, Skype, SatNav and other tools that help us on our travels. Back then, I used to go months without speaking to my parents because it was just too expensive to ring home! Of course, all of this taught me resilience, crisis management and independence.
Over the years the way I have travelled has naturally changed. I don’t rush around cities trying to cram in every sight mentioned in the guide any longer. I instead pick one or two places I am keen to see, and then just wander. But the main change is in the quality. Hostels, backpackers and camping have definitely been relegated to my memory bank, replaced by more comfortable establishments with a good bed. I also figured out how to travel hack in the UK and now fly business class for less than the cost of economy.
Working in financial services gives me the means to be able to travel frequently, and I use every bank holiday plus my holiday entitlement to visit new destinations (and even occasionally return to places I visited 20 years ago!). I am now on a quest to visit more off-the-beaten-track sites.
Mike, Mike’s Road Trip
I have been traveling since my early 20s. However, now, as a professional travel blogger, I travel more than ever. The key difference between then and now, is technology. In many ways it is much easier to travel today with the advent of the smartphone and internet access. I rarely get lost, can always hail transportation and find a good restaurant or hotel – all thanks to myriad apps navigating the traveler.
As I get older, I do find that jet-lag is more difficult to overcome. One thing that has not changed is my sense of discovery, which has not diminished even after all of these years traveling around the globe. As an impatient individual, one of my biggest lesson learned, and something that has served me well as a travel blogger, is to take all of the frustrating delays and canceled flights in stride as they often reveal the best stories.
Claudia, My Adventures Across The World
Had someone told me when I was in my 20s that mine would have been a life of travels, I would have laughed in their face. Don’t get me wrong. I have always craved to see the world, and the older I grew, the more I itched to go. When I was younger, I’d go on shorter trips around Europe. I took my first long haul flight when I was 22 and went to South Africa. Then I went to the United States. It was after my first trip to South America that I understood that one long-haul trip per year was not enough anymore. My dream of backpacking through Central and South America became true when I was 38: I was left jobless (I used to work in academia) and instead of filling in job applications, I jumped at the opportunity to just travel endlessly.
Interestingly, as I grew older I realized that I don’t need that much comfort when I travel. I have become more flexible with the places I sleep, and I alternate luxury or boutique hotels to hostels and dorms (though I still can’t stand party hostels). The same goes with food: I enjoy sitting next to the locals at a budget eatery rather than looking for the comfort of food I am accustomed with.
Finally, I also appreciate slow travel much more: I would rather visit fewer places and fully enjoy them, than rush through as many as possible in a short time. And no matter where I go, I enjoy the pleasure and comfort of coming back home to Sardinia at the end of a trip.
I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to travel as a solo female backpacker when I was 20 – I celebrated my 21st birthday overseas, I experienced the quintessential Aussie backpacker trip on a working visa to the UK. I was carefree, did what I wanted, when I wanted and was able to take advantage of many opportunities, such as a boozy bus trip to Dublin for a long weekend and a last-minute trip to Oslo.
Travelling now means heading off with three young kids. We travel regularly, and I plan all of our trips from start to finish, ensuring I get the maximum out of each day. I want a happy balance of things my husband and I want to see, and things that will keep the kids happy. I want them to learn and be culturally aware, but at the same time, I want them to be kids and enjoy all the things we didn’t get to experience growing up in Australia.
Travelling now is certainly different, but I love seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Media portrays the world as dangerous and scary, but I don’t want my kids thinking that. There’s good and bad in everything, and we try to focus on the good.
I don’t want to go back to the way I use to travel. I’ve swapped hostels for 5 star hotels. I hope my kids get the opportunity to explore and experience a world not organised by me. Although I threaten that when they go backpacking, I’ll be going!! It will be hard to let them go – it’s a different world than the one I explored, but I will let them go with an open heart, knowing that they will learn so much about themselves.
Shara, SKJ Travel
I did not handle my 40th birthday gracefully. 30 didn’t bother me. But 40 kicked me in the gut. I hid in my closet (yes, literally) and pouted. I felt washed up and miserable, and knew I had to figure out a way to handle my subsequent birthdays better. I thought about it and realized that I’m most content when I’m traveling, and it’s the one activity that can distract me so fully as to push aside the thought of the advancing years. So I made up my mind to travel every year on my birthday from there on out. I travel otherwise, too, but this date is now sacred to my travel schedule.
Now I’ve accrued enough of these trips to look upon my birthday with some fondness for all the memories accumulated on it, and also it’s now something I look forward to, thinking ahead every year where I will travel to next on that date. This birthday (2017) I traveled to Greece to volunteer at a refugee camp, which particularly made me count my blessings rather than mourn something so silly as my age. So honestly, the joy of travel saved my birthday from being nothing but the bottom of a pit of despair. I don’t like growing older or watching the number denoting my age tick ever higher beyond 40, but I know every year my birthday will bring me a new adventure.
Kavita, Kavey Eats
I’ve always been a keen traveller, something I inherited from my parents. I was lucky enough to explore much of Europe, the USA, South America, India and more as a child and that passion carried through into adulthood. Two things have changed the way I travel (and plan my travel) during the last decade.
Firstly, of course, the internet has made it so easy to do more nuanced and extensive research. It’s hard to put into words how much of a sea change this has been in what is really only a few short decades, but as bloggers, I think we understand particularly well how this has democratised the dissemination of information now that everyone can share what they like on every topic under the sun. I love being able to find content written by travellers who share the same passions and special interests as I do. And of course, I love being able to share the experiences, ideas and tips I have had with others in return. The other big change here is the rise of online booking – I love being my own travel agent!
Secondly, and less positively, is that as I have come into my 40s I’ve found myself more limited by health issues that I never had to worry about in my younger days. Painful hips and back, and the onset of killer migraines, have both forced me to take them into account when travelling, just as I do in daily life. I can’t do as much walking as I used to, and I add in extra time in each place too. As with most clouds, though, there’s a silver lining – the slower pace of travel suits older me very well and gives us time to people watch, smell the roses in a local park, browse more leisurely in the local food markets and generally relax into a place.
Me, A Traveling Life
Never in a million years did I think this is what my life would like at 40. While travel has always been a priority for me throughout my adult life, I am now traveling more than ever, and I have no intention of slowing down.
Four years ago, I decided to leave a lucrative full-time job and become a self-employed consultant in order to have more time and flexibility to travel. Prior to that, I had squeezed in trips while earning a master’s degree, carefully planning my career path, paying off student loans, and saving to buy a house. Now my goals have changed. I enjoy the work I do as well as having a home base (more for my dog than me!), but I no longer chase promotions or care about the milestones my peers achieve. I’m more concerned with spending time with people I care about, doing new things and seeing as much of the world as possible.
However, unlike most of the other travel bloggers above, I still stay in hostels – now I just spring for the private room!