1. There’s no pressure to follow the crowds
One of the most liberating features of travel in your late 20s and 30s is that, while you might not have everything in your life sorted, you’re probably that bit closer to knowing what you want when you travel. Party your way through endless cities on the tourist trail? No thanks, you’d rather take it slow and find your own way instead.
And while top tourist sights are often incredible experiences, sometimes there’s nothing better than stepping out of your hostel and discovering a new city, country or landscape without the expectations of what others think you should be visiting weighing down upon you.
Check out our lists of places to get off the beaten track in India, Southeast Asia and South America for inspiration.
2. Your eyes are wide open to the world and its challenges
It’s easy on your first backpacking trip at the ripe age of 18 to waltz through countries in a haze of wonder, awe and confusion at the culture explosion that assails you from each new destination. But as a traveller in later life, you’ve probably got a clearer understanding of what you’re seeing, whether it’s the abject poverty you have to face in an Indian slum or the serious threats affecting the Amazon jungle that you visit in Peru.
Experiencing life’s inequalities first-hand will make sure that you never forget about the tiny, fortunate position you have in the world and will make you realise how your contribution as a tourist to the economy can have a valuable, lasting impact.
3. You know that too much partying – and the after effects – aren’t fun anymore
While backpacking in your late teens might have revolved around an ill-considered litre of cheap tequila, travel in later life and you’ll probably want to step away from that bottle and embrace some of travel’s other fine qualities.
Yes, a few glasses of delicious Argentinian Malbec won’t go amiss on a sun-laden terrace – when in Rome (or Mendoza) and all that – but staying up until 3am to bop drunkenly to Enrique Iglesias’ The Twilight Years in a seedy Peruvian nightclub might no longer be your cup of tea.
You might splash out on a four-bed dorm, or even a private room, so you can escape the party and get some kip. Not exactly wild, but practical: you’ve got a sunrise to admire the next morning, after all.
4. You’ve probably got more money – and know how to spend it
Now while your bank balance might still be optimistically awaiting that lottery win, chances are you’re in a better financial position to travel than ten years ago.
Backpacking is a wonderful lesson in budgeting, but there’s no shame in having more cash to travel with a little extra comfort. Being in the position to spend a little extra for that fully reclining seat and the luxury of a toilet on your 24-hour bus journey is something you won’t live to regret.
But, even if you’re still scraping around for the money to travel, go anyway. There will never be a time when everything is perfectly aligned, and no time is better than the present.