The last time I long-term traveled I was 20 years old and in between study abroad semesters in Chile. I met many other travelers but one person, English Sarah (I was American Sarah), stands out.
English Sarah and I were roommates on a multi-week South American tour. She was closer to 30 years old than 20, recently laid off from work, and taking advantage of a great severance plus the opportunity afforded by unemployment to travel. English Sarah was an excellent travel buddy!
When we first met, I remember thinking, “How can anyone leave home at that age to backpack?” I knew I would never do such a thing….
Welp! Now I am the 29-year-old at the hostel meeting people almost a decade younger than me. When we chat about family, it is common for me to mention my younger sister (hi Wendy!). Often, at 26, Wendy is older than the people I meet traveling. We all get a good laugh at this realization.
The beautiful reality of travel is that no one cares how young or old we are. Employment status, skills, ability to network, possessions, or an address do not matter. People are either friendly or, on rare occasions, they are not. The bonds I am forming with other travelers last for a conversation, a day, or even longer. Then, just as quickly as we met, we go in separate directions.
I am happy to be taking advantage of the chance to travel now, even if 29 is not the usual age for a backpacker.