Confessions of a Thirty Something Backpacker….. (what am i scared of)?

I always knew I wanted to go travelling! There was never a question of making that big decision to “chuck it all in and go see the world”! The plan was always to go travelling after university, so I never had a career to give up, which I think made it easier? My thirties was when I would settle down – I told myself?

I have done most of my travelling in my twenties (so far….)! I am now somewhere in my mid thirties! Not exactly old? Not exactly young? Not exactly settled down? A decade ago I did the usual twenty something travel. I worked at a summer camp in America and travelled coast to coast by greyhound bus, I spent 6 weeks backpacking through Europe with a Eurorail pass, I worked (and partied) my way through 6 winter ski seasons and a handful of summers too.  Not to forget the well travelled RTW trip including 10 months on a working holiday visa in Australia and almost 2 months in SE Asia. I loved every single minute of it! There was never a conscious decision to stop. But reality catches up with all of us eventually and the thing about travel is it’s not generally free, no matter how modest you live? I’ve spent the (cough) first half of my thirties getting myself back on track financially and building a career. Having had almost a decade to consider “What do I want to be when I grow up” I am now very lucky to be working as a self-employed Personal Trainer. A job that I love! It gives me the freedom to take time off when I wish (thanks to my fantastic and understanding clients) and although I’ll never be a millionaire I am now in a position financially to think of travelling again!

I have spent the last few months busily working and getting ready for my trip to Nepal, Tibet and India. Saving hard and starting this blog.  The anticipation is building but as the date of departure draws near I can’t help but feel a little bit anxious? I am not scared of travelling alone. Although I have never travelled by myself for this long before it is not something I’ve ever thought twice about. I am looking forward to being pushed to make new friends. I also quite enjoy solitude. I am not scared of the Culture Shock. I have been to other Asian countries and also Morocco. I have done my homework. I am prepared for India to be nothing like I have experienced before. In fact I expect it!

so what is it……….?


“I hope this feeling will continue. If not forever as a constant, but as something that will return. I hope it’s not the sole possession of the young and free. Whatever it is, I certainly intend to make the most of it and experience it as much as I can!”                    

                                                                                                                   – KatieWanderlust 


That’s an exert from a diary I kept when I was backpacking in Europe. I can remember exactly when and where I wrote it. It was in 1999, a little before my 22nd birthday, and I was staying at the YHA ostello di FIRENZE – Villa Camerata ( Florence, Italy). I think it was my favourite place we stayed the whole trip. A little outside of the city but a beautiful old building that felt like being in the Tuscan countryside. It had it’s own grounds to walk around and at night there were lots of people just hanging around the communal areas or talking a stroll around the grounds. I can remember sitting by myself on a bench, drinking a beer, and just taking in the atmosphere.  Feeling that feeling! More than just happiness.  It’s that feeling of freedom, adventure, discovery, being carefree, that anything and everything is possible? In that moment I feel more like myself than at any other time. But what if I was right? I worry that the perceptiveness of my twenty year old self was spot on, and that yes indeed “that feeling” is for the young, that evetually life experience will squeeze it out?

I think (and hope) that I will always feel 22 years old in my heart (doesn’t everyone)? As I think about what adventures lie ahead I am sure that it’s not about “finding myself” and more to do with “being myself”! I already know who I am, and I know that that person is ignited when she  finds herself in unfamiliar places with endless possibilities ahead! (EAT, PRAY, LOVE this trip is NOT)!!  And so I hope that “that feeling” will return. Like an old friend. And that she continues to visit through my fourties, fifties, sixties…. and beyond? As long as I seek her out!


7 responses to “Confessions of a Thirty Something Backpacker….. (what am i scared of)?

  1. You’ll love India… I went there when I was 36 and I think I benefitted from it – I take longer to get flustered now than did in my 20s!

    I’m now 39 and about to spend 3 months in South America and 8 months in S E Asia. I’m suspecting there will be weeks when I’m the oldest backpacker I see. Oh well!!

  2. Katie, this was a really thought provoking entry! I spent the first half of my twenties setting the foundation for my career, the second half living, working and travelling in Europe and the Americas, and now I’ve just embarked on my thirties, determined to juggle financial security, travel, a career and a relationship – it’s possible (I hope!). I think that while it would be good to always feel like that 22 y.o. self, travel changes you as you grow older and the things that used to excite or inspire will also change as your priorities shift.

    Very jealous that you’re heading to Nepal, Tibet and India – all destinations on my list… eventually! Safe journeys and happy trails!

  3. I think people of all ages like to discover and evolve and be challenged. I’m not sure that’s exactly what your 22yo self was feeling – as you say, we seek different things at different life stages (finding yourself/being yourself) – but I think it’s probably good enough to move forward on.

  4. Thank you for articulating this feeling I have so often, Katie. Hold onto it! Happy travels!!! How about we meet up in Oz again next decade?

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