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Hi from a late traveller

Travel Forums Introductions Hi from a late traveller

1. Posted by JMC333 (Budding Member 8 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!


I got bitten by the travel bug relatively late (or so I feel having finally taken the plunge to do some backpacking at 27). Unfortunately, having waited so long I have to suffice with three week holidays each year from work rather than an extended period.

So far they've included Thailand (the southern islands), Indonesia (Bali, Lombok and the Gilis) and Malaysia (all over the peninsula) with plenty more planned particularly centred around good diving.

As a hobby I like to write (badly!) for fiction and love the travelling way of life - if only I'd discovered it sooner! I'm interested in all sorts of stories and fascinated when we meet people on our travels to hear about the journey that got them there. Equally, I'll be fascinated by everyone here's stories - why they chose to travel, what they love about the lifestyle, what the love less, where they love the most that they've seen and how long they think they'll continue seeing the world for.

Don't be a stranger and feel free to get in touch as I'm eager to hear all :)


2. Posted by Fatim (Budding Member 16 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Welcome James, you will love this place then. Looking forward to hear more of your stories

3. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

At 27 you are hardly 'late' to travel. That is a statement that only someone young would make.

My advice to you as an 'old' traveller is to travel slowly and adopt a 'less is more' outlook. Most young people tend to rush from place to place trying to cram in as many places as they can in a short period of time. They see little of anything and yet insist they want to 'see/do as much as possible'. It is about confusing the word 'much' with the word 'many'. They are not synonymous. The way to see as much as possible is to spend your time IN places, not in BETWEEN places. So move less and see/do more. To do that, generally speaking, never try to visit more than one country in a trip of under 4 weeks and never think you are going to visit all of that one country in a trip of even 4 weeks. For example, I have visited Switzerland which is a relatively tiny country many times and on trips of varying lengths from a few days to a month with a total of perhaps a year or more altogether. Next month we are going for 12 days to a valley we have never visited before. We still haven't seen all of Switzerland and never will.

I am always much more impressed by someone who can tell me a lot about one very small area in a country than I am by someone who lists a dozen major cities in a dozen countries and tries to tell me s/he has 'seen' those countries.

4. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1933 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I got bitten by the travel bug relatively late (or so I feel having finally taken the plunge to do some backpacking at 27).

Age 27 and you think you waited too long! This is funny!

Just so you know some people don't begin any serious travel until they retire! Their kids are finally on their own and they know how much money they can afford to spend on travel without serious time restrictions. I always come across retirees on overseas trips having a good old time! Not unusual to even see women in their 70s' and older on holidays on their own!

Always research your visa requirements for each country. Know how to handle your money when overseas and always research scams to be aware of for each country. Some months of the year have more rain when in Southeast Asia. Although tourists do show up on a daily basis - for beach activities know which months are best for safe diving. (I like the rainy season when plant life actually looks alive and hotels are cheaper. For Thailand the Christmas and New Years holiday period is more expensive for hotel rooms and with fewer vacancies as well.)

Plan a budget out so you know how much money you have each day for hotel rooms and other day to day spending AFTER paying for plane tickets. When away from home do not rely on a single debit card. Have a back up source of spending money. Also bring a couple credit cards for emergencies that might come up. (Motorcycle accident, eat some bad food, or even have to suddenly return home for family emergencies, etc.)

  • I got the travel bug early on courtesy of my military service. Now retired I still feel the need to explore!

Have fun!

[ Edit: Edited on 16-Aug-2016, at 20:07 by karazyal ]

5. Posted by Snyder54 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Why do you think 27 is too late for travel. You should consider yourself lucky to have travelled at that age. I have had many business tours but never been for a vacation trip. I hope one day I can find friends to travel for recreation.

6. Posted by JMC333 (Budding Member 8 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

On the basis of your posts and others I've seen on here already it appears I haven't even met the penguin on the tip of the iceberg of travelling!

My feeling (seemingly erroneous) of being older is that the travellers we've generally encountered have been younger people before or straight after University or some friends headed off this year - reassuring to know I've not missed the boat!

Havign read a few it's becoming quite obvious that at the minute I'm more of a tourist but I identify more with travellers than 99% of friends and family who head to Costa del Sol for two weeks on a sunbed. I like to experience places rather than just soak up sun. I want experiences rather than a tan.

We've dipped our toe a little and interesting what OldPro said about less is more. Being more tourist than traveller (due to having to work within my girlfriend's teacher holidays and my ability to take extended breaks (three weeks needs express approval from people much higher in my company's food chain!) we try to research whichever country we're going to a lot before hand and rather than moving slowly between places, we like to try and see places as much as possible.
I sometimes have to rein my girlfriend in who wants to bounce to more places and focus on what's doable within our timeframes e.g. when we went to Thailand we knew there was no way we could even scratch the surface in the time so we focused on Southern Thailand (it was our first backpacking experience so we stuck to a few ubiquitous islands) instead of trying to squeeze in the North. Similarly, with Malaysia we left Borneo for another year and focused on some of the peninsula still in the knowledge we wouldn't see everywhere we wanted to but could settle in places and explore them a bit more.

The first foray was meticulously planned months in advance. The preparation is getting less and less each year in terms of booking ahead. Thankfully, I think it's motivated my parents (retired) to see a bit more of the world as well. My Mum travelled every year (and thoroughly immersed herself in the go with the flow approach) when younger and now they're contemplating South East Asia for the first time.

Must say, it's fascinating hearing from so many people having different experiences at different life stages of travelling.

7. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

IMC333, you mention tourist vs. traveller and that is a subject that gets some people quite incensed, so I would suggest you stay away from even suggesting there is a difference. Never engage in a debate on this subject in a travel forum.

Moving on, one general thing to bear in mind is that many people consider themselves 'experienced' travellers and yet their definition of 'experienced' may be based on quite a limited perception. For example, someone who has been on package tours and cruises to various destinations in the world can refer to themselves as 'experienced travellers'. What they are in fact 'experienced' with however is package tour and cruise travel, NOT all kinds of travel. Nothing inherently wrong with that but it will obviously colour their advice.

I bring this up because you mention you are doing less and less pre-planning. Many people will refer to themselves as 'independent travellers' meaning they book things independently rather than using 'package tours'. However, there are different kinds of independent travellers. Those who pre-book for themselves and those who wing it. Those who pre-book are experienced at pre-booking, not at winging it. But they may well have an opinion on why you should not wing it! They believe they are 'experienced travellers' and that based on their experience of primarily pre-booking travel, that they can give you an 'experienced' opinion of winging it! They know not, that they know not.

So if you find you are tending more to the winging it approach than the pre-planned approach, my advice is to ignore the pre-planners and their objections and listen to those who are experienced at winging it. They know, what they know about winging it.

Many people think they know about something when in fact it is something else they actually know about. I don't know a lot about package holidays or cruises but I do know a lot about winging it when I travel. Keep the following proverb in mind and determine what it is that someone actually 'knows' about or not.

"He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, is a fool ... shun him. He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep - wake him. He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a wise man - follow him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not, is ignorant ... teach him."

8. Posted by JMC333 (Budding Member 8 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting OldPro

IMC333, you mention tourist vs. traveller and that is a subject that gets some people quite incensed, so I would suggest you stay away from even suggesting there is a difference. Never engage in a debate on this subject in a travel forum.

Duly noted!

I suppose because I'm having to do it within short timeframes I've generally pre-planned (in the non package tour sense) to make sure we get the most out of areas within shorter breaks. I'll definitely be taking more advice on winging things more and supplementing that approach around any planning I need to do to maximise the holiday periods we get bestowed. I guess I'd love to throw myself into full winging it mode but always am reticent to completely do so within three weeks at the risk of not getting to other things - if only there were more hours in the day........or a lottery win to allow me to fully travel

9. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Umm, the amount of time available is not relevant to pre-planning vs. winging it.

When you write, "am reticent to completely do so within three weeks at the risk of not getting to other things", it sounds to me like you are falling into a bit of that 'to see/do as much as possible' scenario which confuses that word 'much' with the word 'many'. Getting to more places in a given amount of time has nothing to do with getting full experience value out of each day that you have.

A pre-planner will say that it is more efficient use of time to pre-plan hotels for example. They will say, you don't WASTE valuable time going around looking for a place to stay. But if you think about it, there is an ASSUMPTION in that thinking. The assumption is that looking for a place to stay is a waste of time. On the face of it, that would seem to make sense. But it makes sense ONLY if you don't know the potential advantages that looking for a place to stay may bring you.

Everything you do adds to your experience. That includes time spent looking for a place to stay. You will walk down streets, talk to people, etc. that those who simply take a taxi to their pre-booked hostel/hotel will not do. How do they know that they didn't miss out on something that having to look for a place to stay might have resulted in? They don't know.

Example. I once arrived in a small town in England and looked for a room. All the 'Inns' were full as it happened to be a Saturday night and there were 2 weddings in town that day and a lot of guests staying overnight. I made my way to a pub that had a sign outside advertising 'Rooms to Rent'. Ordering a drink at the bar, I asked if they had a room available and was told yet again, 'sorry, we're full up'. So I asked if they would have any objection to my sleeping in my car in their car park for the night after the pub closed. No objection.

With my sleeping place issue solved I relaxed into enjoying a night in a small town pub. I chatted with the people standing beside me at the bar, bought someone a drink, had someone buy me a drink, socialized in short. Come closing time, the landlord announced 'last call' and after a few more people had straggled out, went and locked the door. Hmm, the ubiquitous 'lock-in'. I had heard of the quaint English practice of a 'lock-in' where the doors are locked, the lights are dimmed and the locals carry on drinking beyond the 'legal' time limit. Not legal but often tolerated in small towns/villages, with the local police turning a blind eye.

So I was in a lock-in, certainly a new experience for me. One by one the remaining locals called it a night and left by the back door which was locked again behind them. Finally, only the landlord and I were left and as I was getting ready to leave and thanking him for letting me stay in his car park for the night, he said, 'that padded bench along the back wall has had more than one person sleep on it before. If you want to 'kip down' there for the night I'll bring you a blanket and pillow.' So no sleeping in the car after all! In the morning, I had a quick wash up in the Men's toilet and the landlord's wife made me a fine 'English breakfast' on the house.

That to me is an example of what may happen to someone who wings it and will never happen to someone who pre-books. Opportunities come to those who are open to them.

Here is another example of "not getting to other things". In Southern France I was in a bar and there was a guy who was saying that he had a VW campervan and was looking for someone to share fuel costs and go to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. One guy replied with something like, 'Wow, I would so love to do that but I can't. I have a flight to Rome on Wednesday and a reservation at a hotel there'. Note that word, 'CAN'T'.

Having pre-planned his time 'efficiently', he had put blinders on himself to opportunity. Rome would still be there next year or the year after but what are the chances of him ever again being given the chance to go to the Running of the Bulls and have a place to sleep all for the price of some fuel sharing? Someone else quickly took up the offer of going to Pamplona, someone who was winging it.

When you have a plan, you tend to follow it. When you have no plan, things tend to 'happen' to you. They 'happen' because you are in a position to recognize them as opportunities and take advantage of them. I could give you dozens of stories of things that have happened to me when travelling. Some people have actually said to me, 'you're just really lucky that you've never had to sleep on a park bench because all the hotels were full, etc.' I don't think it has anything to do with luck at all.

When you wing it, you see things from a different perspective. Those with a plan simply don't see the same things in the same way, they can't. When you wing it, you are open to everything. When you plan, what you can see is limited by that plan. Plans put blinders on you to opportunities.

I'm not suggesting everyone should never plan anything. First, it simply isn't suitable for everyone psychologically. It generally means getting out of their comfort zone at least to begin with. It may be a LONG way out of someone's comfort zone and the anxiety of not knowing where they would be going to stay tomorrow night could make their trip a nightmare. In other cases, if you are going to a beach destination for a week, there's little point in not booking an air and hotel package as that's probably the easiest and cheapest way to do what you want to do, vegetate. If you're going to a place you already know, there is little point in winging it.

But don't be afraid to wing it based on what might go wrong, even if things do go wrong, you will experience something. I once spent an uncomfortable night in a jail cell which was a new experience but that is another story. Chances are however that things will not go wrong and more than they will go wrong for those who plan. Nor will you waste time or see less than those who plan. You will do with your days what you find to do and your eyes will not be closed to ANY opportunities that arise.

10. Posted by JMC333 (Budding Member 8 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Wow! You certainly know how to do it.

I'm excited by the prospect of winging it more. Before joining this forum I had an idea in my head that by not planning each day of my holiday to an itinerary I was winging it more but I have a long way to go yet, clearly!

We're planning a mini-break in Barcelona later this year and I think that may be our first attempt at properly winging it. Although we've sorted accommodation in advance we're staying with some locals and aside from "I must visit the Camp Nou" our plan is to very much wing it and be carried away by whatever adventures there may be.

Thanks for all your thoughts - fascinating and helpful!