How Getting Older Has Changed the Way I Travel

I’m not old, not by any stretch of the imagination but I am now firmly entrenched in my late 30s with no where else to go but up. A lot of things in my life have changed over the years, as they do for everyone. Some good, some bad mostly neither but I’ve been most curious and reflective of how the way I travel has changed over the years. Lately I’ve been traveling more than ever which I think has served as the perfect lens through which to examine these changes. I’m happy about almost all of them but am especially curious how my travel style will continue to evolve over the coming years.


Patience – You know those interviews where they ask you to describe yourself in three words? Yeah, well patient has never been an adjective used by me. In most things I’m still fairly impatient; I hate lines, mail order is like Chinese water torture and the microwave just isn’t quick enough. But when it comes to travel, I’ve adopted an almost Zen attitude, well most of the time at least. I think part of it stems from the fact that I now know that in most situations there’s very little I can do to affect change and getting excited about something isn’t a good use of my energy. My plane was late and I missed my connection  – nothing I can do about that. The museum is closed when the guidebook said it would be open – nothing I can do about that. This newfound and sometimes random bouts of patience has done a lot for me personally. It’s made me happier while traveling and it’s made the entire experience much more enjoyable. Yes, I’m still anal retentive about schedules and keeping on eye on my passport, but in general I’m a new traveler. By taking things as they come I’ve seen a lot more than I would have ordinarily and I think learned more than I ever thought possible. One potential downside is that when traveling with someone who may not travel often one of two things happens (usually both) 1) you appear drunk, high or both from lack of concern and 2) your friend or significant other seems drunk, high or both from their crazy level of angst. But if that’s the worst thing that happens, I’ll take it.

 cafe Girona Spain

More Down Time – When I was younger I always felt compelled to do and see as much as possible when I traveled. This meant crazy schedules and annoying anyone who had the misfortune of accompanying me. It also meant that I sped through places way too fast and in turn missed a lot of real life. Sure I saw pretty buildings, but I never noticed the key details that make new places fun and exciting to explore. Part of me wants to return to all of these places and do them again, this time putting down the guidebooks and just letting myself enjoy the act of travel. This has also meant that I spend more time catering to my own well being. In the past I didn’t just need a vacation from my vacation, I needed an extended hospital stay. The trips were grueling! In keeping with my slower style of travel, I now allocate more time to rest, read a book or take a nap. Keeping yourself healthy and fit while traveling, even on a short adventure, is important not just for your own personal well being, but it allows you to enjoy your trip that much more.


No Opportunity Wasted – I stole this line from Phil Keoghan, the Kiwi host of The Amazing Race who has made it his own personal mantra after a near-death experience. It’s also now how I travel the world. Rather than thinking, “Oh I’ll do that next time I’m here,” I always travel with the presupposition that I will never again return. Whether or not this is actually true doesn’t matter, what does matter is the effect this mentality has on the travel experience. I treat each place as a one-time event so I do everything I want to do, budgeting for it in advance of course. I don’t ever want to leave a new city or country regretting not having done something. A lot of tragedy has struck my family in recent years and more than anything else it’s taught me to live life now, not later because later may never come. It’s opened up a new world to me, as many of these experiences are themselves transformative in their nature. From hot air ballooning in Napa to swimming with sharks in South Africa, I can now say I left these places without regret and for that I am incredibly thankful.

These are just a few of the ways my travel style has changed over the years, how has yours evolved?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

28 thoughts on “How Getting Older Has Changed the Way I Travel”

  1. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become the reverse of you. I’ve chilled out about trying to do and see everything in one trip. I used to feel so guilty if I slept in and missed a museum. Now I do and see what I can and if I miss something I use it as a good excuse to return soon.

  2. We’re about the same age and have many similar traits. I agree with these but not quite as patient as you. However, a recent 27 hour journey home from Ireland and I had a zen like attitude. The more that went wrong, the more I laughed. I am not sure I would have done that earlier in my travels.

    How have I changed as I’ve gotten older? I actually go all out on many of my trips because they are short. I lose a lot of sleep. I just need more time between trips now :)

    1. Well I didn’t say I was great at these qualities and I do falter, especially in overplanning. Our next trip to Europe is a bit of a marathon and I just hope my partner doesn’t kill me. LOL

  3. I now pay extra to go the quick way – rather than save a couple of hundred dollars but have to do lots of stopovers, sometimes in the wrong direction! I also like paying a little more to get more legroom on flights, and I have definitely become better at using frequent flyer miles – I have let quite a lot of them expire before……

  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I too have developed more patience with the speed bumps in travel and I have learned to look for the experience. I have also learned that sometimes, it’s okay to splurge on that bottle of amazing Brunello or that room with a balcony overlooking the Med….. Travel has become like breathing clean, fresh air–that’s why we love it!

  5. I’m still starting to explore. Doing something different each time, I truly love planning everything myself. I’m wondering how that will evolve over the years: will I get tired of arranging everything and let someone else take over once in a while? I think not, to be honest:-)

  6. Same here Matt…I have also travelled a lot of place in my country when I was young..but when I returned to those places once I got aged and matured, I felt how a careless traveller was me at the younger ages. I really missed the small, tiny beautiful things during my younger day trips and I started enjoying them only when I started travelling at matured age.

  7. More down time, i’m agree with you. Sometimes if i feel a bit tired i will just go enjoying coffee and sit down while watching others people activities in the street nearby. I feel happy just to do this while also have a chat with friends. No rush, just take your time to enjoy your surroundings :)

  8. Great article. I like to think that I too have learned patience, but I have to admit that it’s a lifelong “work in progress.” Reminding myself that “there’s nothing I can do about it” helps a lot. But it’s hard to reconcile #2 and #3: I still tend to try and do everything so that “no opportunity is wasted” and that makes it hard, sometimes, to slow down and savor each moment. My answer has been even more advance planning. Knowing what I can scratch off the itinerary makes it easier to spend more time than planned when something is so much more than expected. Scheduling in “No Schedule” times has been helpful, also. It adds flexibility and a chance for a breather. Having these priorities seriously reduces stress for me – both in planning and in the actual trip. Still, it’s hard to live like any visit might be your only opportunity while not going mad trying to make the most of it.

  9. Because when I was married and travelling with the ex we were comfortable to travel decently (not first class except the odd treat, but ok) and now I’m, basically, broke, I’ve seen a whole other side to travel – buses and trains, rather than car hire; dorms in hostels instead of private hotel rooms; buying food in supermarkets instead of restaurants – so perhaps, at 65, I’m kind of doing things backwards, but it’s all very interesting and educational! Given my druthers I think I’d go for the comfort, but I can’t complain. I’d rather travel cheaply than not at all!

  10. Loving this post, Matt! I’m fairly highly-strung in terms of organisation, and I’m training myself to just let it be. So I miss the bus transfer? Can’t change it, I’ll just catch the next one. Plane delayed for two hours? Nothing I can do to speed it up, so I’ll just sit down and read a book.

    The more I travel, the more I also learn to listen to myself. I don’t force myself to endure a place or experience that I’m not enjoying just for the sake of it. I’ve learned to take myself out of situations that don’t make me happy and that don’t enrich me while I travel. You might not enjoy every aspect of a certain culture or city, and that’s nothing to feel guilty about.

    1. Definitely highly strung Tom, but still just as loveable.

      I wonder if I have cracked that perfect balance of expediency and relaxation. I always seem to get to places in good time, but I’ve also learned when to slow down and stop and actually enjoy myself. Biggest mistake in Russia was that in the end I was dragged along with the group and didn’t get my alone time, let alone time to do what I wanted when I wanted, and in the end a lot of time was wasted to some extent because of bad communication. Still I did everything I wanted to do so I’m happy, which is the main thing.

      The trick is to realise it’s not a race for sure.

  11. hmm as i am getting older my patience level during travelling is increasing and naps and relaxing time for me is very important rather compulsory. so that i may enjoy all the days of trip.

  12. Yup, that point about only making it seem like you may only be visiting a place once is a good one. Travelling is a lifestyle I suppose, and it’s funny, you think it will be all easy and have some idea of how to do it and what you’re life will be back when you leave, but then in reality it’s quite different. You then learn more what it’s about for you, and adapt with every trip and in some sense get ‘better’ at travelling every year. Not that this better means finding cheaper air tickets, or haggling more intensively, more so just you become more familiar with your own goals. Great post, thanks :)

  13. I’ve found the older I get and the longer I travel the more my approach changes too.
    Gone is my patience with overland travel, but longer stops and more indulgence is certainly the order of the day. Rushing through places to simply tick them off no longer appeals – and to be honest I’m enjoying life on the road much more as a result.

  14. Personally, I have not got any older since I turned thirty some years ago, but interestingly I have found my travel has changed similarly. I find I shop less now when I’m away, and prefer to spend my time and money on experiences, rather than in shops. Pre-Internet and globalisation, Europe and the US were the most fabulous gigantic shopping malls for young Australian travellers like me. Now we can get anything we want either at home or on the net, so shopping while traveling has become a redundant activity!

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