Woman sitting by the Ganges river in Rishikesh - Backpacking in your 30s

Backpacking In Your 30s – 11 Tips To Help Prepare For Your Trip

So you’re in your 30s, and you’re finally going on that backpacking trip you’ve been dreaming of

Whether it’s your first time travelling with just a backpack or a nostalgic return to backpacking, being in your 30s brings a fresh perspective on travelling as well as some new things to think about.

Backpacking in your 30s combines that youthful excitement that you still have bubbling inside you with the nuggets of wisdom you’ve gained as you’ve grown older.

Whether you’ve been backpacking before or you’re entering a whole new world of travel, travelling in your 30s does have its ups and downs (speaking from experience). 

In this post, I’ll be sharing some helpful tips and advice to help you navigate travelling in your 30s and ensure that you have an epic 30+ backpacking adventure

Drawing from my own experiences and what I’ve heard from others, let’s dive into some tips and tricks to make sure your trip is unforgettable.

So, what are my top tips for backpacking in your 30s? 

Read on below to find out! 

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Can you go backpacking in your 30s?

YES – let’s say it louder for the people at the back.

30s is not old, and you’re not too old to go travelling in your 30s.

I think we all need to remember that society has changed dramatically in the last 40 years, and we’re in a very different world from the one in which our parents came. 

People are having kids and settling down at a much later age, and some are completely choosing not to take the settling down path. 

Gone are the days when people were married with 4 kids by the age of 25. 

During my recent backpacking trip as a 31-year-old, I lost count of the number of people I met in their late 20s and 30s, and it was so lovely and validating to see. 

This was either people choosing to take a break from their corporate life or those jumping on the digital nomad bandwagon. 

I’m 100% sure that this is a post-Covid trend of more people realising what they want from life and boy am I here for it. 

I can guarantee you that you don’t need to worry about being the oldest person in the room or the only 30-something there, as you will meet so many people in the same position as yourself. 

Prepare for backpacking in your 30s

🛏️Accommodation: When you’re hunting for great deals, make sure to check out different sites like Booking.com and Hotels.com! If you’re on a budget then make sure to check out Hostelworld.

🚆Transport: Need to book a bus, plane or train whilst travelling? Check out your options on Trip.com, 12goasia.com, Bookaway.com and thetrainline.com.

🐘Activities: Check out Get Your Guide and Viator for 100’s of activities whilst travelling.

🦋Insurance: Make sure you’re covered against any incidents during your trip. Get affordable and flexible insurance with Safety Wings.

📱Download an eSIM: Avoid roaming fees, and have peace of mind that you have internet access when WiFi isn’t available. Download sims from either Airalo or Holafly for your time abroad.

Top tips for backpacking in your 30s

Slow it down

Out of this whole blog post, this is probably my biggest tip of all! 

If you’re going backpacking in your 30s, I’d highly recommend embracing the art of slow travel. 

One of the biggest mistakes on my backpacking trip as a 31-year-old was trying to go at the same speed and pace as I did when I first went backpacking at 22. 

When I was 22, I would move every 2-3 days, and I did this in the first 3-4 weeks of my over 30s backpacking trip. 

What an epic mistake that was.

I got burnt out quickly, which in turn made me grumpy and tired and got in the way of me truly embracing certain places. 

Remember how quickly you could recover from a hangover when you were 20 vs how long it takes you to recover now? 

That’s the difference between backpacking in your 30’s vs your 20’s.

If, like me, you’re the kind of person who wants to see and do everything, it can be quite hard to shift your mindset. 

However, I promise you that your mind, body and soul will thank you for it in the long run. 

Pick a handful of lovely places that you truly want to see and spend at least 4-5 days there. 

Try not to let FOMO, Instagram inspiration, and recommendations from others get in the way and tempt you into seeing absolutely everything. 

I ended up changing my plans completely because of burnout so that I could really slow the trip down.

I’m so glad and grateful I did. 

Remember that you know yourself (go with your gut)

Whilst I am a big believer in word of mouth and recommendations from others, try not to let yourself get so easily influenced by others that it interferes too much with what you want to do. 

An example of this for me was that everyone told me I NEEDED to visit certain cities whilst I was solo backpacking in India

I know that I am much more of a nature lover than I am a city dweller, however, I let myself get influenced by those recommendations, let FOMO get a hold of me and ended up visiting those places. 

More often than not I would then arrive in those cities and be underwhelmed by the sites (and overwhelmed because of the chaos) because, at the end of the day, it’s just not what I like. 

They say in your 30s you know yourself better and are less easily influenced by others but this was clearly something I still needed to work on. 

Thankfully, I learned that lesson very early on in my trip. 

So take it from me, if you’re backpacking in your 30s remember that you know yourself better than anyone else and to always listen to your gut. 

Have a decent budget

Hopefully, being in your 30s means you’re a lot more financially stable than you were in your 20s and that you have been able to save up a nice amount for this backpacking trip. 

I say have a decent budget so that you can allow yourself to afford more comforts such as taking the more expensive train or bus, booking a private room (or fancy hotel) from time to time, and treating yourself to a nice massage now and again. 

Plus, if you have a budget that means you don’t have to stay in dorm rooms at all then even better! 

However, I’m fully aware that life doesn’t always work out this way, and if I’m completely honest with you, my 22-year-old budget was fairly the same as my 31-year-old budget. 

This is because I still had a mortgage to pay at home… the perks of getting older and gaining responsibilities, eh?

Prioritise comfort when travelling 

When I was in my 20s, I was much more keen to “rough it” with certain things, and I could last a lot longer on a little sleep. 

Travelling in my 30s was a whole different experience. 

Comfort and ease especially when doing the “travel” part of travelling was my top priority and one of my top tips for you. 

When travelling on trains and buses, I recommend opting for the higher classes or luxury tourist buses to ensure that your journey is as comfortable and stress-free as possible. 

I’m not saying to avoid more local and public transport options completely because that is part of the travel experience after all. 

However, I would suggest not doing it every single time you need to travel to your next destination. 

After taking a local bus in India twice, that was more than enough for me and certainly an experience. 

But also take what I say with a pinch of salt, you might be built from stronger stuff than I am 😂.

Staying in hostels

Although you might hate the idea, backpacking in your 30s still might mean staying in hostels, especially if you are on a tight budget or travelling solo. 

The good news is hostels are much nicer these days, and there are a lot more options than there were when I first went travelling. 

In addition to the standard 6/8/10 dorm room options, in most hostels nowadays you can also find 4-bed dorms, female-only dorms and private rooms. 

This means that you can pick what best suits you based on your comfort requirements and budget.

Looking for destination inspiration? Why not check out my travel guides here.

What I also love is that hostels tend to get a reputation online (thank you hostelworld reviews)  for being either a “party” or “chill” hostel which makes your booking decisions a lot easier. 

These days I prefer to avoid the party hostel and opt for the calm but social option. 

As a side note, I also noticed on my most recent trip as an over-30 backpacker that I rarely met anyone under the age of 25 in the hostels that I booked. 

I’m not sure if this has to do with my hostel choice, the average age of travellers rising, or due to the nature of the places I travelled (e.g. India and Nepal). 

Either way, I think it’s comforting to know that you will meet other 30-something backpackers for sure!

Embrace wholesome activities

By wholesome, I mean anything that doesn’t involve drinking or partying.

If, like me, your party days are over, or you love to party but hangovers now last 3-5 business days, then it’s probably a good idea to embrace more wholesome activities over nights out. 

Whether you’re into walking tours, hiking, diving, or just reading a good book at a cafe, these are the things you want to be doing to get the most out of your travels. 

Now, if you like to party, I’m not saying don’t do it, just remember how hangovers feel (or if you don’t drink how late nights and no sleep feels) now that you’re in your 30s.

Maybe, just maybe, do it a little less so that your nights out don’t rob productive days from your future self.

Don’t feel guilty for resting

I talked about travel burnout earlier in this post. 

Burnout is what we want to avoid, so taking rest days is paramount. 

If you’re anything like me, you’ll struggle to take rest days while travelling. 

My thoughts are usually something like, “I haven’t travelled all this way to lay in my bed all day- I can do that at home.” 

However, if you don’t rest when you’re tired, not only will it take away from your true enjoyment of a place, but it will most likely catch up with you later on in a way that forces you to rest.

Find the balance between being prepared and going with the flow 

I don’t know about you, but as I’ve entered my 30s, I’ve become prone to a lot more overthinking (something I’m working on).

Overthinking can wreak havoc on travel plans and might cause you to over-prepare for your trip.

If you truly want to enjoy your travels, then it’s important to find the balance between planning, spontaneity, and allowing things to go wrong. 

Too much planning and booking ahead can make you feel stuck. If you find a place you like and want to stay longer, you might lose money on transport you already booked or regret leaving before you were ready too. 

However,  if you don’t plan enough, you might risk paying over the odds for transport or not getting a room at the hostel you wanted to stay at. 

And remember, unexpected things can happen. Flights and trains might be delayed or cancelled, and you could get sick. Being ready for surprises is important.

I’d suggest that if you’re not restricted on time or your route, then booking things 5 days ahead of time is a good balance.

Stay open-minded

In social situations, as well as meeting people your own age, you’ll also meet people much younger than you.

It’s important to be open-minded about spending time with them.

Even though it might feel strange to hang out with a 19-year-old when you’re in your thirties, try to see things from their point of view.

I went out for dinner with a couple of 19 year olds on my most recent trip and I genuinely had the loveliest evening with them filled with interesting conversations.

Getting to know people of different ages helps broaden our perspectives and learn new things.

Interacting with both younger and older folks can be really valuable.

Plus, outside of the usual party spots, you might find that twenty-somethings are pretty mature, too.

Countries to consider with slightly older crowds

If you would prefer to stay away from younger “gap-year” travellers completely then I would recommend considering countries that have a slightly older or more mature crowd. 

In my travels, I’ve noticed that the typical backpacking routes in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, tend to draw a younger crowd.

On the other hand, countries like India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal often attract travellers aged 25 and above.

Whereas in Central and South America, it’s a bit of a mix, but you might notice slightly younger backpackers in Central America and slightly more mature in South America.

With that being said you will find people in their 30s no matter where you go, you just need to ensure you stay in the right places to find your type of people.

Enjoy the journey

Last but not least, remember to enjoy the journey.

Travelling is amazing and fulfilling, BUT backpacking can often get romanticised, especially on social media.

It’s not always sunshine and pretty beaches, and that’s ok.

Somedays, you will feel amazing, and other days, you will hate it and feel homesick.

I personally have found travelling in my 30s a lot more of an emotional rollercoaster than it was in my 20s for reasons I’m not sure.

At first, I got annoyed with myself for feeling this way, but when I learnt to accept it and feel those emotions, whether positive or negative, things got much better.

Remember, this is all a part of the journey (and life in general)

So embrace all the emotions and enjoy the ride.

The beautiful days will make you feel alive, and the challenging days will build resilience within you.

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Conclusion

Embarking on a backpacking journey in your 30s is an amazing experience, so please remember that age doesn’t limit your adventures!

During my travels, I met lots of fellow backpackers in the same age group who were all eager to explore and have fun.

Backpacking in your 30s is all about learning and growing while exploring new places. 

Take it slow, stay open-minded, enjoy every moment, and have a fantastic adventure! 

Please also remember to take what I say with a pinch of salt. 

I realise these tips might not be for everyone, and I might not be as intense or resilient as other backpackers in their 30s. 

However, this is what has worked for me, so hopefully, these tips can help you in some way, too. 

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