5 Travel Habits I’m Leaving in My Early Twenties
I’ve outgrown some of my best travel hacks.
I took my first trip abroad when I was twenty-years-old. Still in college, and not exactly flush with cash, I was determined to see as much of the world as possible on little more than a dime.
While many of the travel habits I developed then served me well at the time, and I largely don’t regret using them, now that I’m transitioning into the latter half of my twenties, my tastes have greatly changed. I’m no longer lured in by the promise of a vacation that requires three times as much work to plan and execute for half the price.
Here are some of the things I’m no longer doing on my trips:
1. Taking the cheap route.
It’ll come as no surprise that I started out as a budget traveler. I think most people do.
Once upon a time, my rule was to do every trip for $1,000 or less, airfare included. I picked the cheapest Airbnbs everywhere I went, I flew budget airlines, and I often aimed for around €20 per day (or less) in food expenses.
This was fine when it was all I could afford to do, but nowadays I’m more concerned with getting the most out of an experience rather than spending the least amount of money. I also want to be supportive of local communities and economies, so I’m more comfortable spending as a tourist when I know my money contributes positively in those ways. I’m definitely not a luxury traveler, but my trip planning budget is a lot bigger than it used to be.
2. Rushing it.
“Do the most with the least” was a mantra that extended beyond money for me. I was also trying to see as many sights in as little time as possible. I planned excursions across multiple countries with only 2–3 days spent in each spot.
I’ve been to Switzerland, technically. But I could hardly tell you anything about it because I was only in Geneva for about 48 hours. Being able to check a country off a list just doesn’t matter to me anymore if I don’t also get a real sense of the culture.
These days I prefer to take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months in a location. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of walking into a small café where they’ve memorized your lunch order and bid you goodbye with, “See you tomorrow!”
3. Avoiding the landmarks.
More than anything, I used to be self-conscious about looking like a tourist in foreign places. Especially an American tourist. I didn’t want to annoy the locals with my presence or become one of those people the inhabitants secretly laughed about after they left.
As a result, I avoided major landmarks and tourist attractions like the plague. Any place that seemed crowded with American accents skyrocketed to my no-go list. I went to Pisa without seeing the Leaning Tower. I’ve been to London half-a-dozen times and never checked out Buckingham Palace or Big Ben.
This was, of course, a silly wish to have on my part because I was a tourist, regardless of whichever route I chose to take. Depriving myself of the most highly recommended attractions didn’t fool anyone into thinking I was local. While I still enjoy getting off the beaten path more often than not, I will no longer go out of my way to not sight-see.
4. Compromising comfort.
Crowded hostels and Airbnb bedbugs are not for me — not anymore. I stayed on cheap beds I couldn’t fall asleep on. I purchased cheap luggage that broke the minute the wheels struck a pebble. I’ve made a lot of decisions during my travels that put me in totally uncomfortable situations just to save a few bucks or to be able to say that I did something.
This really got hammered home for me when I was so adamant about not renting a car on a trip that I walked for miles and got blisters all over my feet within the first few days. The consequences of that decision made it a lot harder to have fun for the remainder of the trip.
I don’t need 5-star accommodations and luxury experiences, but I now have a baseline level of comfort that I’m not willing to compromise on.
5. Judging other people’s travel styles.
Everyone has different things that work for them. I used to balk at people who spent way more than I would on a flight, or who never learned any of the local language. But everyone is pursuing their own goals with travel, whether or not I understand them. If it makes them happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, there’s not really anything to be judgmental about, is there?
My own travel style may continue to change as I grow and learn more about the world in the coming years. For now, I’m happy with the changes that have come and how I see the world now, and I hope anyone reading finds a way to travel that enriches their life in the best way possible.
How has your travel changed over time?