For at least a decade of my life, travel was my priority. It was something I could squeeze into any long weekend, no matter how exhausting. I could take 10 to 12 trips a year, no matter the cost. And while I still love a good travel adventure, now that I’m in my mid-30s, my travel habits have changed quite a bit.
I don’t want to travel as often anymore.
For several years, I could take at least one trip per month. While that was an exciting time that allowed me to see more than 50 countries across five continents, I don’t have the energy to travel that often anymore. One intercontinental flight makes me want to be home for six months straight. So my annual travel schedule is probably half as light as it was a few years ago, but it’s impossible for me to do more than that without wanting to kill myself. And if you’re not traveling to enjoy yourself, what’s the point?
If I can’t afford to stay somewhere nice, I won’t go.
My first international trip, I stayed at a 1-star dump in Paris that was €45 a night. The room was like a jail cell with a shared bathroom in an absolutely horrid neighborhood in Paris. And that’s fine when you’re in your early 20s, and you’re “only using your room to sleep anyway.” But when you’re an adult and you live in a nice and comfortable house full of the furnishings of your choice, you don’t want to downgrade for a vacation. If anything, I’d rather splurge and stay somewhere luxurious where I can get the best sleep of my life and bathe in a claw-foot tub.
I’m more likely to go where I want to go regardless of cost.
One of the reasons I’ve always been able to travel so much is because I would maximize the use of travel deals and affordable destinations. There’s truly very little difference between the coast of Santorini and the coast of Croatia except that Santorini is five times more expensive. But as I’ve gotten older, I have to admit, sometimes I’m just not interested in a Bosnia or a North Macedonia; sometimes I want to go to Greece. And given that my tolerance and energy for travel is somewhat depleted, I’d rather just go where I want to go even if it’s more expensive.
Sometimes I’d rather visit a place I like twice (or three or four times) than go to a new one.
This may be more a product of my experience rather than my age, but I’ve traveled to so many places already that sometimes I just want to return to one I really loved where I know I’ll have an amazing time rather than roll the dice and end up having a God-awful experience like in Sri Lanka or Peru. It was easier to emphasize novel over enjoyable when I was younger. If I hated one vacation, I had another one lined up in a few weeks. But now I want to relish all my trips abroad. And like rewatching your favorite movie or rereading your favorite book, a favorite travel destination will never disappoint.
I recognize that a lot of travel blog advice is toxic.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with travel blogging because I think the industry is full of FOMO-inducing photography and no depth, just fake reviews and bad advice from people who don’t recognize their own privilege. The older I get, the more toxic it rings to me. “Travel is not a matter of money but courage”? Eggs cost $8 a dozen now; sometimes it’s a matter of money. While I have enjoyed what appears to be a lavish life of travel, that’s because I live in a place where housing expenses are 15% of my income, so I can save for retirement about as much as I can spend on travel. You’d be an idiot if you’re flying to Australia when you don’t have enough money for rent.
Similarly, a lot of travel bloggers would have you believe that visiting every country in the world is an impressive and desirable goal. Sorry, but I don’t want to spend a vacation in Afghanistan. That sounds like the opposite of a vacation.
I’m more likely to enjoy leisurely trips like cruises.
I’ve always been a vocal hater of all-inclusive resorts and cruises. True, you experience very little of what the local culture is all about when you’re insulated in a luxury accommodation catering to tourists. But when you’ve spent a week shitting yourself because of the culinary delights at a local Peruvian farmer’s market, you kind of see the value of being cooped up in palatial indulgence.
I’m also far less interested in taking trips that involve non-stop sightseeing. If I am going somewhere with a lot of sightseeing, I’ll spend twice as long there so I can get enough down time. I actually want to spend my trips relaxing so I don’t feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.
I don’t have the energy to take the gnome everywhere I go.
I realized the gnome’s travel days were up when I took him in my carry-on to Portugal and Spain last year, and he didn’t leave the hotel room once. The thought of carrying around an extra backpack all day just to get a few photo ops sounds like hell now. And you know what? That’s okay. He traveled plenty.