How Old Is Too Old To Backpack?

There is a guy I know, who spent years dreaming about everything he wanted to do – most of all he wanted to travel the world and do some crazy adventures. But life never seemed to work that way for him, and he never seemed to have any time to do all that he dreamed.

Today, he is in his 50’s and has all the time in the world – but now he instead talks about all the things he would have liked to do, and then finishes off by saying: “but it’s too late now…”

I think it’s sad that he feels that way, because it’s SO far from the truth. I personally think you are  never too old to backpack around the world.

You’re only too old to travel if you THINK you are – I truly believe that the possibilities you have are no less than what you think you have.

Yes, society tries its hardest too have control over people and make up silly unwritten rules such as when you’re too old to travel, when you should get married, when you should get a real job etc…

The only one who should have a say in what you do with your life and how you live it – is you!

Don’t listen to others, often they’re simply jealous that you’re brave enough to do something they would also like to do.

Many people can’t handle other people stepping out of the norm, and into the uncertainty of a new life.

I don’t think it is about the age, but about the mindset you have, which decides whether you’re too old to backpack or not.

If you’re 25 and need the comfort and certainty, chances are that you’re ALREADY too old to backpack.

If you start to make things over-complicated and worry about everything, not wanting anything to be left to destiny, backpacking isn’t something for you.

If you, however, are open for new adventures with an “open ending”, aren’t too fuzzy about the comforts and are unafraid to talk to make your way around by yourself rather than following a tour guide with his flag in the air, it doesn’t matter how old y0u are, backpacking will be fun for you.

During our travels we have met seasoned backpackers who are well into their 70’s, still sleeping in rooms with squat toilets, and exploring the world.

It might be hard to find other senior travelers, but just like with solo travelers, there are many forums where you can go and connect with other older travelers – and isn’t age really just a number?

What do you think about this? – Is there a certain age when you’re too old to travel?

(photo credits: mcgrathssukanto_debnathmcviewty)

35 Responses to How Old Is Too Old To Backpack?

  1. Erica Kuschel January 7, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    You are NEVER too old. My mother drives me insane because she is 54 and is convincing herself she is already geriatric. She goes to bed achy at 7pm and won’t dance her beautiful flamenco dances anymore.

    But seriously – we’re 28 and just starting!

    • Nathan Schacherer January 9, 2011 at 10:12 am #

      28? great! :) same age as me, feel like I could do this forever ;) It’s a shame about your mum, cos its mostly in the mind, which stops others from doing what they really want to do – like dance flamenco.

  2. Jack January 7, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    I wouldn’t consider myself elderly just yet but I’m 37 and still backpacking. The main problem is that everyone around you – the backpacking crowd – generally has young ideas of what is cool and what isn’t (because, you know, they’re mostly young).

    But you’re right, age is a number and apart from taking much longer to recover from nights out til 2 a.m. partying, I haven’t really had to slow down. Of course, being older I value things differently than I did when I was younger. Thus, on this trip, things like learning peoples stories and really experiencing people are more valuable to me than getting drunk and seeing every single tourist attraction in the world.

    • Nathan Schacherer January 9, 2011 at 10:12 am #

      thanks for sharing this Jack! I agree, things to change as you get older, (and maybe wiser) less party and more enjoyment of the simple things in life.

  3. Theodora January 7, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Definitely no end date, apart from when you’re too old to carry the pack… Travelling with a young child, in my mid-30s, I’m amazed how many people we meet who are older than us. And my parents still travel with a pack in their 60s.

    • Nathan Schacherer January 9, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      haha thats true – but you can still get a roller bag ;) thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Angela January 7, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    I have met people backpack at their 70’s. That’s really inspiring.

    • Nathan Schacherer January 9, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      I agree – its wonderful to see them out there still doing what they want.

  5. rowan January 7, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    My wife just turned 60 and I’m 58…we’re going backpacking for a year, maybe longer, starting in the Spring. I spent a year backpacking when I finished college, going from Europe overland to India (via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan). That was 1974-75, now 37 years later we’re traveling west (Australia, Indonesia, SE Asia) to east (India, then Europe) with backpacks. So, no, I don’t think you’re ever too old!

  6. Lisa E January 7, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I think it’s a mindset and not really about the age. As long as a person is healthy enough to handle it and really wants to go, they should! I’m no longer in my 30s and that certainly hasn’t stopped me. And one of my close friends is almost 75 and up until a few years ago, he was staying in hostels.

    I hope to keep going as long as I can. And if a time comes when it becomes too hard to carry the backpack, I’ll just modify the way I travel. Perhaps I’ll just move around less or get a bag on wheels. But I’ll definitely still be traveling!

    • Nathan Schacherer January 9, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      thanks for sharing this Lisa – its so nice to see so many people thinking and living the same as us! great mindset.

  7. Priyank January 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Hi Nathan,
    I agree with your argument. While physical capacity poses limitations, quite naturally, its the philosophy and style of travelling that matters. My parents are remarkable – they travel randomly with flexible plans and stumble upon neat places. Granted they can’t sleep in dorms with ten other college kids, but it doesn’t matter because on the road they are independent, minimalist and free spirits.
    Priyank.

  8. Webjet.com January 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    Great info, another fantastic post.
    I agree that you’re never “too old”. Attitude is everything!
    You should check out our budding travel blog, it would be much appreciated: http://www.webjetblog.com
    Thanks and keep up the great work :)

    • Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 12:47 am #

      thanks guys! also great blog you got there – appreciate the share!

  9. Amy & Kieron January 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    To recycle a quote I’ve used before…

    “You’re only too old when your dreams turn into regrets”.

    It’s true in this instance and everyone should chase their dreams, regardless of their age!

  10. Connie Hum January 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I think it’s NEVER too late to do the things you love! Age shouldn’t restrict you! Life is what you make out of it.

  11. OneGiantStep January 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    I started late (early 40’s) and plan to keep going until I can’t. We’re only as old as we think we are…and I plan on thinking young!! Cheers!

  12. Traveling Canucks January 7, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    I agree – you’re never too old to get out and explore, and hostel living makes it happen. That said, I think you do hit an age where living in the smelly party dorm room gets a little played out. As a couple, we rarely stayed in dorms and opted for the double private rooms, typically only about $5 more and totally worth it.

  13. Ayngelina January 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    I’m 33 and backpacking and when I was in Fiji I met this woman, Barbara from Scotland, who was in her 80s and on the Kiwi Experience.

    Her husband died, she had money and all her friends were just waiting to die so she left to travel solo.

    Coolest woman ever.

    • Nathan Schacherer January 9, 2011 at 10:18 am #

      WOW – such an amazing story, its people like this who really inspire and motivate me to live!

  14. Anonymous January 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Totally agree! I know girls who are barely in their 20s who won’t travel because of their mindset–too scary, too dirty, too much work. And then I’ve met people on the road who are older, but so full of life.

    • Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 12:49 am #

      hahaha yeah that is sooo true! they need that certainly of ‘home’ so much they never really get to experience life.

  15. Akila January 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    I don’t know that you’re ever too old to backpack but, as we get older, we may change the way we travel. We don’t do dorms because we like having a bit more space. We stay at less touristy places, now, and we prefer spending longer in a single city. So, our travel style is changing (not that we’re old or anything) and I expect that it will continue to change as we mature.

  16. enrolled agent cpe January 8, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    Age should never be a hindrance, the important thing is one’s passion and love for travel. My mom is already on her 50’s but this did not stop her going to places. I think traveling is something that I got from her.

  17. Sabina January 8, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Definitely, definitely everything is a state of mind and not an age. Maybe your friend in his 50s was saying “it’s too late” when he was in his 30s too. Really no one in the world cares how old you are but you.

    • Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 12:48 am #

      yeah you are right Sabina, for some people it always seems like it’s not the right time NOW.

  18. Audrey Reed January 9, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Like you said, It’s all about mindset and living in the now. You’re never too old, you just need to be ok with modifying things when necessary.

    My Gran just started seeing the world, climbing tropical trees and chasing adventure a couple years ago. She’s in her mid 70s and until recently had never traveled in her life because she was taking care of a sick hubby. She’s my constant reminder of “It’s never too late”.

    On the rare occasions I do get into the ‘OMG I’m getting older and haven’t been much of anywhere!’ frame of mind I just think about my grandmother. Then I silently scold myself for being absolutely ridiculous.

  19. Johnny Ward January 10, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    it’s absolutely a state of mind, my mother (61) is backpacking around burma this summer – if you’re mentally ready for the open road, age wont hold you back

    • Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 12:48 am #

      oh that is awesome! We are also thinking of heading there – but at 61, that really is great!

  20. Sarah Wu January 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    I agreed with you. You are never too old to travel! My parent feels the same way too. The only time I see it as a problem is if you think you’re health won’t allow you to do some extreme sport or climbing. Other then that I think you can enjoy culture, place, food everything else what travel can offer ; )

  21. Maggie January 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    I agree completely! You are never to old!

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