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?
Here are 5 safety tips for first time backpackers …
Whether you’re spending your summer holidays inter-railing around Europe, your gap year volunteering in South East Asia or you’ve taken a year off work for a round-the-world trip, it’s important to stay safe whilst travelling For First Time Backpackers.
Don’t Flash Your Cash.
Although most places are tourist-friendly, you’re likely going to stick out like a sore thumb; if you take these steps you can avoid attracting attention for the wrong reasons.
- Spread your money out and store them in different places; Keep some money in your wallet, some in your backpack and some in a day bag, and the same goes for your credit and debit cards. That way if one of these items is stolen or lost, it’s not the end of the world.
- Set up at least two accounts on your bank, one which can be used at ATM’s to take out money, and one savings account which can only be accessed from online. This way you can transfer smaller amounts of money every month to your ATM card so that if things go sideways, thieves can only take out as much money as you have on the ATM card. If it gets stolen, you won’t lose all your savings.
- Unless absolutely necessary, don’t take out too much money from the ATM at once, it’s better to take out a little money at a time. And make sure to get a card from a bank that offers free withdrawals in foreign countries or you will lose a lot of money down the drain!
- Do not store your money in a fanny pack, first off it looks silly, but you’re also basically telling everyone where you have all your most valuable things stored.
Insect Repellent & Mosquito Net.
Mozzies are nasty little insects that can carry many different diseases. Depending on which country you’re in, mosquito bites can spread malaria, dengue fever or other dangerous conditions, which result in a fever and require immediate medical attention.
Whilst there are anti-malarial tablets available to prevent the disease, they can have nasty side effects and the most effective way to avoid contracting it is not to get bitten in the first place.
So, invest in a strong mosquito repellent, and consider buying a mosquito net for use in particularly hazardous areas.
Get Your Shots Before You Go
It might seem like one more chore on the list of pre-travel planning, but getting your vaccinations before you go is vital for your health.
You don’t want to end up having to spend your precious travelling time in hospital, or risk your long-term health for something you could have prevented beforehand.
And make sure you know the deal with each vaccination, if you need to return again for a top-up and if so when – and don’t miss the date or things will get very problematic (we learned this from our own mistakes).
If you’re really tight with your budget, you could look into getting your vaccinations abroad.
We had a few done in Bangkok at the Red Cross Clinic which was great – everything was clean and safe and much cheaper than in Europe – but always do your research beforehand!
Always Book With Reputable Companies.
Bungee jumping off a waterfall, flying over the Nazca lines and cycling down the world’s most dangerous road may all be on the list of must-do activities.
I know it’s tempting to go for the cheapest possible option, but it’s really not worth the risk.
Make sure to book through a reputable and certified company, rather than trying to do it on a budget. Always assess the risks before you sign up, and be aware of any scams or copycat companies that operate in the area. This applies to bus and taxi companies as well.
Make Sure You Have Travel Insurance
Travel insurance may seem like it’s blowing a big hole in your budget, but if you were to have an accident or incident while travelling, this safety net will ensure that you are not landed with a hefty hospital or legal bill, as well as being covered for any lost items if you’re mugged.
We were so happy that our travel insurance covered everything when we were mugged in Malaysia last year, and one reason why it all went so easy and smoothly was because we were prepared and had read the terms carefully before buying it.
Carry your policy number and emergency phone number with you and also leave it with someone back home, so that you are prepared for every eventuality.
Whether you have insurance or not it is always worth checking with an expert law firm like Irwin Mitchell.
Although backpacking is liberating, a bit of careful planning before you set of will help you avoid the setbacks that could blight your once-in-a-lifetime trip, and make it a memorable experience for all the right reason.
What are your best tips for first time backpackers?