On my recent trip to Slovenia one of the things I recognised was how travel in your thirties is very different to travel in your twenties.
Adventures in my twenties
When I was at uni I took myself on a few European adventures including Rome, Florence, Prague and Cologne to name a few. Then at 21 I took a two week trip to South Africa for my final project as part of my dissertation (any excuse!) and finally at 22 I packed up my backpack and headed on an adventure of a lifetime with my best friend…
South-east Asia, India and Australia awaited, we stayed in some hostels that I probably wouldn’t put a dog in now, but from beach huts to boats and buses we slept wherever the wind (or our Lonely Planet guide book) took us. Some of our best meals were street food, from Vietnamese pho to bhel puri on Chowpatty beach in Mumbai; to a luxury dish of fresh prawn Thai green curry on the beach in Ko Tao or a $5 dollar steak in Sydney!
I had a great time on my travels and wouldn’t change any of it… well maybe if I thought long and hard I’d change a few things but the point is, everything I did was on a budget, a very small budget. If I could get to the next destination for $10 less but it meant taking a bus that would take 12 hours I’d probably do it; because those $10 were a few beers, a wine, or a dinner of fresh fish on the beach.
Last minute getaways
That was travelling of course but even as I continued into my mid-twenties the travel bug stayed with me, so I’d head to Europe with the girls for weekends away or a week in the sun. Either way it involved spending as little as we could to do it; a last minute deal to an average location, the cheapest car hire – never mind the extra insurance you’d end up paying to reduce the excess, the flights that were £20 cheaper, because 6am seems like a great idea as “you’ll have the whole day when you get there”, a coffee and a croissant in Pret and then wait at the gate with your cabin bag because of course you didn’t want to pay for a baggage, you’d much rather struggle through with cosmetics in plastic bags, a shoe sticking out and everything crammed in as tightly as possible!
Now in my thirties with a little more money in the bank, a boyfriend who hates the stress of travelling but loves it when he’s there, and a love for even finer things in life than I had before – mainly when it comes to food and wine (I’ve always been a self-confessed snob), I can afford to splash out a little more on my trips.
Travelling in your thirties means…
- Parking as close to the terminal with as little stress as possible (forget transfer buses) or even stay the night before at a hotel, depending on the airport and the flight time
- Getting to the airport in plenty of time so you can get a decent meal at a restaurant, whatever time of day
- Enjoying a pre-holiday drink, except now it’s not in Wetherspoons (not always anyway) and it’s more likely to be a Prosecco than a pint!
- Ok you still normally travel on a budget airline and join the queue with everyone else to board but at least you get an allocated seat these days
- Hungry or thirsty on the flight? You’re suddenly willing to pay for the overpriced food and drink because you want it, especially that in-flight drink
- Arriving at your destination… you’re no longer scrabbling around to find out what bus or train you need to get to the city centre or resort (unless you’re determined you are still in full travelling mode), instead there’s a man holding up a piece of crumpled A4 paper with your name on
- The hotels – before you travelled you read every review possible to help make your decision, you looked at ratings, googled ‘best hotels in …’ and checked Condé Nast recent articles before you booked, or you took the easy option and went with Secret Escapes best hotel
- During your stay you scour the streets, the Internet and the guide books for the best places to eat and drink. You want to experience the local cuisine and wine and you want to go to the best place in town for it. Failing that you want an amazing location or view that you can Instagram like crazy and check in on Facebook so everyone at work knows you’re having a really good time
- You’re also no longer the last people in the bar barely able to stand, you’re tipsy and tired and need to get back to the hotel for your beauty sleep ahead of a new day exploring, or sitting on the beach or fresh faced (behind the sunglasses) by the pool
- Finally your return home; you’re early for everything, you’ve allowed time to get to the airport, you’ve factored in for delays and you even have some cash left to enjoy an airport coffee and something to eat.
I’m not saying now I’m 31 I’ve got money to burn but perhaps I’m just willing to spend a little more on a break away. I guess life has got busier, so as you jump from one meeting to another, one family gathering to the next social event in your diary, some time to really chill out and recharge deserves a little more investment.
I still try to save on things here and there and I love a bargain on flights or finding a hotel cheaper direct, but now it’s more likely I’ll spend the extra £10 than save the $10 to make sure my holiday is the best it can be on my budget.