2016 is the year that I turn 25 years old. Now, to anyone over the age of 25, this is a great age. You’re still young enough to go out every weekend and make a fool out of yourself without it being too socially unacceptable, but you’re old enough (or at least, getting there…) to be taken seriously in aspects of your life that you’ve never been taken seriously before. Yaaay.
However, with the quarter of a century landmark ominously looming in the not-too-distant future, the aforementioned positivity in regards to getting older is not really how I’m feeling about it.
I mean, fuck. It’s scary. 25 seems like the age that I have to stop pretending I’m still a child and, like, do something notable with my life. Stop frivolously spending my money in Urban Outfitters and on travel and books and food, and start saving for something scary. Like a house. Or at least pay off my credit card from my unconscious spending in South America. Go to bed early on weeknights, get up early to actually eat and be presentable before I leave the house. Find a decent boy, get married, have kids, drink nice wine out of nice wine glasses to get me through the mid-week slump of monotony that has become my life… (clearly, adulthood is a scary thing to me. BUT WE ALL FEEL LIKE THIS, RIGHT?!).
Realistically though, I know that I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to sacrifice travel and having fun with my friends just because the omnipresence of social media means that I find myself constantly comparing where I am in my life to other people. And so, on to the positives of turning 25. Yeah, I have a real job. Obviously working 9-5 means that your life is very different than what it was when you were a carefree adolescent, but I’m lucky in the fact that I really enjoy my job (I’m a journalist of superyachts. No, really. LOLZ). And, with a real job comes real money. And with a decent adult wage, it also means that I can afford to go on some nice trips. I’m no longer limited to budget backpacking, which is pretty much how I’ve exclusively chosen to travel since I turned 18 years old.
Trips, holidays, vacations – by my definition – are completely different to backpacking, or the stereotypical idea of what ‘travelling’ is. Holidays are for a shorter period of time and, most importantly they often have a very nice budget. Okay, not necessarily big, but a budget that 9/10 times surpasses the meagre budget of backpacking. I cannot count the amount of times whilst travelling where I’ve been depressingly hungry, with no silver lining on the dark, dark cloud of temporary (and annoyingly self-imposed) poverty, knowing that you simply cannot drop another cent on food and so resorting to a diet consisting of the free, stale bread in your hostel…
So, in the spirit of growing up and having a real job and a real adult life, I’ve decided to stop being scared of getting older, and start travelling in ways that I haven’t previously been able to. I’m taking trips, holidays, vacations – not just sabbaticals from life – throughout this whole year, which excites me beyond belief. Though this dramatic turnaround in travel style is a consequence of the aforementioned job and adult life (ha, I imagine my parents and basically anybody that knows me is laughing their head off at my incessant branding of myself as an adult. I got ID’d for being – and I quote – ‘so small’ the other day. I’M AN ADULT, OKAY?!), it doesn’t mean that it’s as scary as my freaking out at the beginning of the post implies.
People think that as you get older, you should strive to achieve, well, basically what everybody else is achieving: the house, the job, the relationship, the family. Travel is seen as a luxury extended to those that are in the states prior and following this ‘adulthood’. We’re all advised to take a gap year immediately before or after university. We should remember that serious adult life awaits, and that we should schedule travel in before it all gets a bit too heavy. If you don’t go on a gap year, then you better be happy with an annual two week holiday, and just make sure that you make it to retirement age, where of course, if you’ve worked hard for the past 50 years, you should have some money left to finally follow your dreams and see the world… riiiiiiiight.
As a travel blogger, people often ask me when I’m going to pack it all in and go travelling again. How can I find things to write about when I have some kind of anchor weighing me down to one location? I’m not buying into this ideology that serious travel is something reserved for people ‘brave’ enough to throw down the shackles of normality, or for those that are waiting to serve their time in the system or, indeed, have gallantly already served their time. Nope, not for me.
This year, I’ll be going to Japan, Albania and New Zealand – as well as plenty of weekend trips back to my motherland (I’m discovering that I’m actually way more in love with England than I thought when I left the country almost three years ago to live in Holland). How do I manage to do this? The anchor that is apparently weighing me down can be just as easily lifted, even if just for a few weeks. I’m going to discover some amazing places with amazing people, and not give a damn about time passing. Travel isn’t just for those of us who want to sacrifice those expected things in life. It’s for everyone.