Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s

March 11, 2017

How does age change travel in your 30s versus travel in your 20s?

So, the big question remains, what is the difference between travel in your 30s versus travel in your 20s? Well, I have been thinking about this a lot lately since I am now well into my third decade of life (Geez. Time flies when you’re having fun). When I am alone in my room, I reflect upon my journey through life and how I have changed and grown as a person. And while it’s hard to identify exactly how I have changed, I know something has happened because my behaviors are no longer the same. To put it simply, a lot of the crap I did in my 20s, I would NEVER do in my 30s. Somehow, it just doesn’t feel right anymore. And some of the crazy things I did just don’t seem that cute anymore (Maybe they never were and I was just in denial. Lol).

Now, I don’t want  it to sound like I haven’t had ANY fun since I turned 30. I mean, once you hit the BIG 3-0, fun isn’t magically against some mystical, thirty year old code of conduct. No, no, no!! I have a ton of fun. Maybe just a different kind of fun. And that’s okay because I still have an adventurous spirit  and want to do cool things like (I swear, I am not some old hag, with 10 cats, who watches Golden Girls reruns, in a moo moo. Side note, I actually love the Golden Girls. Don’t Judge!) Volcano Boarding and Cage Diving with Great White Sharks (That’s the iron clad proof that I’m not THAT old).

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s, but some attitudes never change.

I actually turned thirty about two years ago, (OMG, 30 is the BEST decade so please don’t be scared of it. I am in a much better headspace now than I ever was in my 20s. And if you are terrified, that’s normal because I was too.) and have contemplated the effect of age on how I view and experience the world around me. And no, I don’t mean the loss of teeth (Hello tapioca pudding for dinner), range of motion (Hello titanium hip replacement and hover round scooter) and mental capacity (Thank you Sven the handsome mail assistant nurse. I will take the sponge bath now). I mean those things will come, and they kind of freak me out, if I’m totally honest, but I am referring to the psychic change and inevitable maturation that spontaneously occurs as you bridge the gap between your 20s and 30s.

I mean, I feel like we all declare, “I’m never going to change!” But in spite of our best efforts, we change mentally, whether we like it or not (and physically too unfortunately. Botox? Botox anyone?). As a result, the travel experiences and situations that satisfied me in my 20s, no longer seem like a good fit in my 30s. I mean, if I’m brutally honest, there are a lot of things that I just wouldn’t do in my 30s, that I thought were “AMAZING” and the “BEST TIME EVER” in my 20s. Now, I sometimes look back and wonder, “What the hell was I thinking?” or, “Geez. Thank God I survived. ”

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s. No matter what age you are, you should always travel.

And that’s the exact moment that it hits you; you’re not the same person that you were in your 20s. Something has changed, but it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what. It’s like a gust of wind. You feel it and know it’s there, but  you just can’t see it. Well, here is a list, that demonstrates, some of the ways in which both me and my travel style have changed, as I leave the insanity of my 20s behind and embrace the wisdom of my 30s (Hopefully you’re wiser at this age. of course sometimes I seriously wonder about this, like when I pillage my entire savings account because I NEED to go on another trip. I should obviously be mature and save money for retirement. But that’s so boring!!! lol)

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s : The LIST

So long Party Life Style

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s. When you’re in your 20s, life is one big party!

What happened? Bars used to be so cool and staying out all night used to be so much fun. I used to love
waking up, more than slightly hung over, regaling everyone with stories of the people I hooked up with and the crazy things I did the night before, like make out with some random guy while on the line to get pizza. It was hilarious!

Now, bars are loud, drinks are expensive, people seem obnoxious and drunk, and I’m tired. I just want to watch some television and go to bed early, so that I can get a good start on my sightseeing itinerary for the next day. I now live by the phrase, “Nothing good happens after midnight”.

I REFUSE to sleep in hostel dorm rooms (and am kind of over the hostel scene in general)

What happened? Hostels used to be a fun and easy way to meet people. It was like one giant sleepover and if you were lucky, you could find a guy to share a bed with (wink, wink). In the past, I would only stay at hostels because they were cheap and just a great party scene.

Fast forward 10 years and the story is totally different. Now, the people seem loud and obnoxious and drunk all the time. And they all seem kind of annoying and young, so I’d rather rent a private room where I don’t have to listen to people snore or fight or have sex all night (or all 3 at once). On top of that, was everyone always this dirty? I mean, I am scared to not wear flip flops to the bathroom because I don;t want to get foot fungus. And eww, there is a used condom on the floor. Someone get me out of here and into the peace and quiet of my own room.

Sleep is NOT optional

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s. As you can see, sleep is not optional in your 30s.

In my twenties, my life motto was, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. And it was largely true. I could stay out all night and wake up the next morning, ready to conquer the latest city I was visiting. I truly believed that sleep was for losers who just couldn’t hack being tired.

Now, I need sleep. I mean, if I don’t sleep, not only do I look like the corpse bride, but I am grumpy and just feel like total crap. I will be tired and miserable and not enjoy a thing, so I actually HAVE to get a good night’s rest. I mean, I actually slept in and skipped Versailles in Paris because I was just tired (I just was like ehh, I will come back and see it). That would NEVER have happened in my 20s. In my 20s, I would have done anything to see everything a city had to offer. But in my 30s, the quality of my travel experience is much more important than the quantity. So, I’d rather relax and enjoy myself than force myself to  “push through” and visit a site in a state of total exhaustion.

You’re Body Starts to Hurt

I actually remember the EXACT moment that this happened to me, because the experience of having an achey body was just so foreign. I was visiting La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and bent down to get a better angle  for a picture. Well, when I tried to stand back up, my knees screamed in agony from the pain. I almost freaked out because I had no idea what was going on. I literally thought that I was going to need a knee replacement or that I had some crazy sort of cancer that was destroying my body.

I mean, it my 20s, I would save money by just continuously walking throughout a city for some insane amount of time, like 12 hours straight. It was almost like a challenge, to see how far I could walk and how much of the city I could see (It felt like Iron Man Travel).

Now I know that my body can get pretty stiff, so I need to take breaks when walking through a city. I also need to stretch my legs to relieve any pain that may develop in my knees (My body can now actually get stiff and sore. Who knew?). I basically just have to take care of myself and remember that my body can only take so much physical abuse before it will yell at me to stop (And it yells in the language of pain).

I like being alone

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s. In your 30s, solitude can be heaven, like when you have a Magnolia cupcake all to yourself.

In my 20s, I traveled alone, but not by choice. I really just didn’t have anyone to travel with me, and rather than missing out on an opportunity to travel, i just went alone. But I HATED being alone and would literally talk to anyone and everyone who spoke English. It was almost like I would go up to anyone and be like, “Hi. Please be my friend. I hate being alone and need your company.”  I had an internal homing beacon for people who spoke English and would literally swoop in on them as soon as they got their first, “Hi” out.

Now, I hate crowds, want a private room, and would rather go in the off season to avoid all the tourists. And I swear, I’m not totally anti-social, it’s just that I’m picky about who I spend time with. This is because in my 30s, I like myself a whole lot more and would rather spend time alone than with someone I don’t really like. I am actually content alone and not bombarded by a series of self-deprecating thoughts that leave me feeling inferior to everyone around me.

I compare myself to other people A LOT less

Look, it still happens. I can still be envious of others and wish I had an awesome husband or a beautiful house (I am still human and not some self-confidence guru). But, it was way worse in my 20s. I always found myself thinking that if only I had what someone else had, then I would FINALLY be happy (or if only I was skinnier. BIGGEST lie I told myself). And because of such comparisons, I always felt less than other people and never felt good about myself.

Now,  I care a lot less about what other people do or have or think about me because frankly, it has nothing to do with me and is none of my business. Their lives are their own, and I just want them to be happy and love themselves as much as I love them. And the best part of all? I can actually be genuinely HAPPY for people’s successes and not just totally jealous.

I have also come to realize that my life choices are my own. I can’t blame anyone else for how my life turned out because I’m a grownup now and need to take responsibility for my own life (Trust me, it gets pretty lame when you keep blaming your parents for all your life mistakes). I don’t have the house and husband because those are the choices that I made. An that’s fine by me. I love travel and adventure and know in my heart, that I would not be content doing the same thing, over and over again, for the rest of life. So, I choose this lifestyle and can appreciate the freedom and independence that being a single woman offers me.

Comfort is more important than being cheap

In my 20s, I would do anything to save some money. It was like a challenge, and I wanted to see how much I could do for as little money as possible. Now, saving money isn’t the most important thing to me since I have a full time job and actually enjoy treating myself to nice things (I’m not a baller with a private jet, but I will spend a little extra money on a nice spa experience). To my way of thinking, I would rather enjoy my vacation and create memories of a life time, than save a few bucks and feel like my vacation is something that needs to be endured.

Travel friends are no longer my, “BEST FRIENDS FOREVER”

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s. In your 20s, everyone is your best friend forever. LoL.

When I was in my 20s, any person I met on vacation was gonna be my Best Friend Forever! I mean, we met while traveling and only knew each other for a day, so obviously we were gonna stay in touch, go on a million vacations together, and end up being each other’s bridesmaids when we got married. I had this vision that I would just collect all these amazing friends all over the world and would have someone to visit in every country I traveled to. It would be SOO amazing!

Now, I realize that this is a fantasy. Most of the people you meet while traveling are great, but the reality is that more than likel
y, after the trip, you will NEVER talk to them again (There are exceptions of course. I’m not a totally jaded old woman. LoL). It’s not that you don’t like them, it’s just that you guys have totally different lives and therefore, don’t have too much in common, besides traveling to the same place at the same time. You now try and accept these people for what they are, which is temporary companions that help you feel less alone while traveling abroad.

You actually watch what you eat

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s. You can eat like this in your 20s and if you eat like this in your 30s, you’ll pay the price. LoL.

Remember those days when you could eat a pint of ice cream, a slice of cake, 2 slices of pizza, and a bowl of macaroni and cheese and wake up the next day, feeling fine and not having gained a pound? Well, those days are long gone for me now that I am in my 30s. And yeah, this is the only life change that is kind of depressing, but good because now I actually want to eat right and treat my body well.

I now recognize that for my body function at it’s best, I cannot eat like this. I need to watch what I eat and try and exercise because the reality is, the better I take care of myself, the longer my body will last and serve me well, And besides, even if I did eat like that, my body would make me pay. I would feel so bloated and my stomach would hurt so bad, that it would take away all the joy of eating and totally not be worth it (Besides, no one wants to walk around in a bikini while sporting a food baby).

You ALWAYS wear  suntan lotion (and a hat and sunglasses and do they have an umbrella you can hide under?)

Travel in Your 30s versus Travel in Your 20s. The only sunglasses I wore in my 20s.

Yeah, Melanoma and wrinkles are real, so I am no longer all about baking in the sun. I don;t need a golden brown tan anymore because I’d rather look like Casper the ghost and protect my skin from UV damage. And if having pasty white, glow in the dark skin means a healthy complexion, then so be it. Besides, they invented spray tan for a reason right?

LASTLY, (and this one is my favorite) you look at pictures of your younger self and realize that you were younger and prettier and thinner than you ever thought possible

I have been there. I have looked at pictures of myself from my 20s, when I thought I was revolting and morbidly obese, and have been amazed at how young and beautiful I actually looked. I was shocked that i was so nasty to myself and that I held myself to such an unattainably, high standard.

And that was such an amazing experience because I finally realized that I don’t have to be so hard on myself all the time. I mean, somewhere along the line, I thought that being mean to myself would make me strive to be better. But, that kind of negativity actually just made me feel like crap about myself and made me hate myself even more.

So, I have since learned to appreciate and accept myself for who I am today. Yes, I have flaws, but those flaws help me grow and help me show other people that it’s okay not to be perfect because we are all just human. We are all just muddling through life, trying to do the best that we can with each day that we’re given. Because of this attitude, I have developed an incredible amount of compassion, love, and tolerance for not only the flaws in myself but for the flaws in all the people around me; a mentality that, today, makes my life a much more peaceful existence.



Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.


  • How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch 1 year ago

    Awww I especially love that last paragraph of loving how beautiful you were. I feel the same way looking back at my pics. And yea I think she is an evolution in general in addition to the way we travel. Both are legit tho.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Totally agree. Life changes us and we evolve as a result, as does out style of travel!!!

  • Serena 1 year ago

    This is great, and so truthful too. To be honest I’m 23 and I already am siding with these 30s feels. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I think wanting sleep and non-dorm accommodation is fair enough!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Yes!! It just means that you know what you want and what makes you happy!!! That’s a very good thing I think! Taking care of yourself and sleeping is good!!

  • Ingrid 1 year ago

    I soooo can relate to what you are saying! I am very close to turning 30 and i “suffer from all the simptomes” :)) especially the last one. I really wish people in their 20s would be more aware about how great they are and how great life is!

    Cool post!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      I totally agree. I just think that that type of love and acceptance of self just comes from age and accepting who you are and realizing that you don;t want to be anyone else.

  • Sheila 1 year ago

    I identify so much with this post. I was never a party person, but I was fearless. For good or for bad that has changed lately, and going to the Skycoaster in Orlando, FL is not in my bucket list anymore. The last one is something that struck a nerve, because of how true it is. I still have a little more than 2 years to reach the 30’s, but if there is something I have learned is to stop being so damn hard at myself. Great post!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Absolutely!! I do it too. I am so hard on myself sometimes and it never works. It never gets me what I want and I just end up feeling bad about myself in the process. And I identify about the rollercoasters. I used to have no fear but now I think I have healthy fear, which is good.

  • Maegan 1 year ago

    Yes yes yes. While I’m not yet 30 (28), I’ve begun to feel this way. I’m not a party girl, hostel lounger, or people person. I’m not antisocial but I love being alone with quiet time in my own space lol yay Airbnb. I also died about the sponge bath with the hot nurse, that’s what I’m screaming!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Right?? I also thought I would fake alzheimers so I could pinch his butt and not get in trouble. 🙂

  • Cali 1 year ago

    Love this! I totally relate to all of your sentiments. I am rapidly approaching 30 and all of your points are already sinking in. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered by other people, or shared space, etc. Now off to get a pint of ice cream, a piece of cake, 2 slices of pizza, and some mac and cheese….before its too late!!! 😉

  • Melissa 1 year ago

    I’m still in my 20s, but as I’m getting into my later 20s I’m definitely noticing a change. Such a fun article though!

  • Lia 1 year ago

    Even though I am only 27 these resonated so hard with me! Maybe I just got old early lol. I feel like 25 was the age where I got massively old all at once.! I look back at late teens and early 20s me like Omg how did you have so much energy??

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Right?? I am like, what was I thinking and how did I do all that? I get tired just looking at some of the things I did.

  • Alice Chen 1 year ago

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE these insights! They are hilarious and too true at the same time. I’ve already started to see that comfort is worth the price – but during my first backpacking trip I was super happy to just spend the night on the bus! Ha!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Totally get that. My first trip I was just happy to be abroad so I didn’t care about the conditions.

  • Vrithi Pushkar 1 year ago

    Totally get you! I turn 30 this year and I feel like i already feel this way. Especially about sleep. Great Post. Thanks for sharing.

    Vrithi Pushkar

  • Becky 1 year ago

    Really interesting to read. I was a late starter so I think I am still in my 20s travelling phase even though I am in my 30s. I still book hostels. I just don’t book the party ones. Well except when I was in Buenos Aires!!!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      I can totally see you rocking out to the tango in Argentina!! And I sometimes go to hostels but always have to have flip flops and a private room.

  • TravellingDany 1 year ago

    This was such a fun read!!! LOL I always look at my old pictures and find myself younger, prettier and thinner, so I start wondering “how on Earth could I not like myself back then? I used to be so pretty!” Thank you SO much, I loved this article! 😀

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      So glad to hear that!! And remember that when you’re looking at you pictures now because when you’re older you’ll think the same thing!! We need to love ourselves today before the day slips away!

  • Rebecca 1 year ago

    Interesting post. I must be an odd one out as I actually don’t notice any difference, even now I’m in my early 40s:

    1) I never enjoyed binge drinking, even as a teenager. I wanted to see the sights, and alcohol never agreed with me

    2) I’ve always travelled solo

    3) I always ensured I got a lot of sleep, then and now

    So I guess I’ve always been travelling on my own terms…and I don’t intend to change it now!

    Thanks for sharing

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      That’s great!!! You have always been true to yourself and that is an amazing quality!

  • Eulanda 1 year ago

    I completely resonate with this. In my 20’s it was all about fast paced, cheap travel, without much concern for my own comfort. I made it a point to hit up the best Salsa Clubs in every city, and dance past last call. I’ve recently entered my late 30’s and life is totally different. I prefer it much better than my travel tales of a decade ago. I listen to my body, get my sleep, eat better, and enjoy travelling much more. Thanks for sharing this!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      I feel the same way. I really do not miss the fast paced life style of my younger years, but I’m glad that I experienced so I know I didn’t miss out on anything.

  • Cris 1 year ago

    OMG Aside from the partying part in the 20s , this is so me. I did go out a lot more in y 20s but I never drank (much). Now that I’m in my mid-20s…meeting friends at a restaurant is pretty much enough for me.
    After a bit of a horror story in a hostel (yesterday), I’m done with the private rooms in hostels for life! I may start booking hotels from now on…

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Totally relate. Hostels can be a disaster, depending on whose there. And I am with you on the dinner thing. I hate large crowds and prefer a much more intimate setting. I also hate being out really late because I feel like it ruins my next day.

      • Cris 12 months ago

        And I just saw how many types I made. Care to help me fix them? haha :)))
        I actually never had an issue in a hostel before since the private rooms are typically in other buildings. For me, they became a disaster when the staff was a disaster lol

        • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

          Ugh. I hate unhelpful staff. That is the worst. And some hostels are great and others are just way too insane for me.

  • Jen 1 year ago

    This post is so accurate! I’m almost 30 and already notice all of these things. Sleep is a non-negotiable and I can’t remember the last time I was excited for a bar lol now it’s more like, I think I’ll have a nice cocktail with dinner. Right there with you!

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Exactly!!! Bars are not my thing anymore. I just don;t have the ability to socialize with people who are basically drunk and annoying. LoL

  • Brooke 1 year ago

    Nice one! Though I do feel like a snob now as I’ve never enjoyed hostel dorms, pub crawls, or talking to everyone. And being Asian I’ve always sunblock, sunglasses, and a cap (you should’ve seen how people stared at me applying sunblock when I was in Kenya). But as long as we’re traveling, we’re happy 😉

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      It’s funny because my friend from Korea did the same thing. She slathered on the sunblock and we were all like huh? And don;t feel like a snob. LoL. You are not missing out. Like you said, if you’re traveling and happy then it’s all worth it.

  • The Rimsky Project 1 year ago

    Haha omg! I guess better make the most of travel in my 20s before the 30s come around. Not that 30s travels sounds too bad 🙂

  • Becky Angell 1 year ago

    ha ha so funny Kelly. I am not sure I will ever learn to put enough sun cream on, no matter how old I am. I always seem to miss a bit!!

  • Melissa 1 year ago

    Some very true points here. I started travelling in my 20s and continue to do so and am about to turn 40!!!! I use to travel solo and loved it!!! Now I travel with my family – so things are very different. But I wouldn’t change a thing – really love your post . Look forward to your travel in your 30ss versus 40s 🙂

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Yeah, I am gonna do everything I can and make the most of the beautiful life I have been given!

  • Elise 1 year ago

    Some of these are so true it hurts! You spend a lot less time trying to get people to like you too – if they aren’t interested that’s their problem 🙂 Good for you chica!

  • Nicole 1 year ago

    This is such a fun read. I completely agree that sleep is not optional. And it hurts.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      I know!!! When I first had to admit this it was very painful. I was like wait, really? I have to sleep to function? NO!!!

  • The Travel Ninjas 1 year ago

    You’re so right about sleep. Of course, its important all the time, but when travelling it’s more important than eating. We can (and maybe should) go a day without eating and feel ok, but missing sleep can absolutely ruin a trip.

    • girlwiththepassport 1 year ago

      Exactly. Sleep is really crucial and if you don’t get enough then it throws everything else off.

  • Gokul Raj 1 year ago

    Still in my 20s, I travel alone so that I can meet new people. I am pretty sure I will ditch dorm beds for private rooms 5 years forward.

  • Bhushavali 1 year ago

    That’s such a nice read. I’m yet to touch 30 but it isn’t far away. Already I’m seeing how my life is changing in front of my own eyes!!! I really hope to keep on travelling through 30s and later as well. Let’s see how life takes me!!!

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      I love that part about travel and life. You never know where you are gonna end up or where life is gonna take you.

  • Samantha 1 year ago

    Oh my gosh, so much of this resonates with me as I round the corner into my 30’s. I’m 28 but I already don’t drink much and totally choose to spend the money on comfort. I think the whole hostel and extreme budget travel lifestyles are often pushed on people and it doesn’t have to be that way. Totally fine if that’s how you travel but as Amy Poehler would say “Good for you, not for me!” I do give up some comforts in the name of sustainability and eco-friendly but not when it comes to a comfy place to sleep! GREAT POST!

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      Thank you so much!! I really appreciate it!!!I feel like the transition in travel changes way before you turn 30 but I so agree. I need to be comfortable so that I can have fun and enjoy my vacation. Not suffer through it.

  • Sudipto 12 months ago

    I am right on the bridge on it. I am 29 and about to turn 30 in a few years. Although the jumping, giggling part of me has disappeared, the body aches seem like a reality now. There is also a massive shift from beer and joints to whisky and cigars 🙂

  • Paula - Gone with the Wine 12 months ago

    I can relate on so many of these! 🙂 You definitely want more comfortable travels when you get older, more safety and more rest. I just turned 40 and even though my trips are now more fun than ever, they are very different from when I was 20.

    • girlwiththepassport 12 months ago

      So good to know and I love how no matter how old we are, all we have fun. It’s just a different kind of fun.

  • prairierivercamp 11 months ago

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    • girlwiththepassport 11 months ago

      I use wordpress but I am self-hosted through site ground and I like it a lot better than being hosted through wordpress. And I’m sorry about the hacker problems but switching hosts may help with site security.

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