I really think “gap year” travelers need to rethink the timing. They typically do it right before college so around 18 and 19. This means they are on a tight budget and in return try to save money (hostels, homemade meals, shared transportation). While it can be fun to cook in the communal kitchen, it’s a lot more fun to indulge your tastebuds in the local cuisine. Sure, it can add up (in Australia especially) but when I’m paying $30 a night for lodging, a few nice meals out isn’t so bad. Shoutout to my work fam and my real fam who both gave me cash in order to treat myself to a nice meal. Well, I’m happy to inform you (in hopes that you are reading) that I have! I’ve had a lot of mexican, Avo toast, noodles, ice cream and Acai Bowls. I’ve also had a lot of coffee and a moderate amount of cocktails or wine.
The other benefit is the ability to just see and do more. Fortunately, I’ve been able to do some pretty great tours. They are reasonably priced, but again, can add up quickly! However, to travel all the way around the world and not tour anything is a waste of time and money IMO. I have met a few people where I’ve asked what they have been up to an they said hanging out on the beach and hitting the bars at night. I think looking back they’ll regret that. Or maybe not? I’m also not keen on doing something every day. While the rain in Cairns was disappointing, it did allow for some much needed R&R. I hit up a gym, read my book and chilled watching some Netflix. Hey Netflix- if you could play Criminal Minds on your Australian server that would be much appreciated. Thank goodness you can still get Riverdale here 😉
The one thing I haven’t really spent money on is shopping. I cut back on the shopping habit about a year ago as I began to save up for this trip. It also helps that I don’t have room in my backpack, nor do I want any more weight. I did buy a swimsuit that I have been searching for forever and a pair of Quay sunglasses because they are made in Australia (seen in Açai Bowl photo above).
My last thought about age is to address the stigma that all backpackers are young. Sure, there are definitely a lot of younger ones. However, there are also a lot of older ones, even some that are in their late 30’s. I would say it’s just like any workplace. Naturally, you are drawn to people your own age, but if no one is, you find common ground with those whether older or younger. If you’re having trouble meeting mates along the way, I’m sorry to say you might find it challenging wherever you are in life, as these hostels are the most social thing I’ve been a part of. Think of it like this, you always have an opener. Where are you from? If that opener doesn’t work, you can always pretend that all the other chairs are wet and the only dry one is next to the people you want to talk to. That worked for this guy Tristan LOL. PS there have been very few Americans traveling.
All this said, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter when, where or how you travel…just as long as you do 🙂