Reflections of a backpacker who turned 30

Well, I’ve had to do it – I’ve had to remove the ‘a twenty-something’ from my tag-line.

I just turned 30 on Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi, during an all-day party cruise. I thereafter headed to my favourite Thai Island, Koh Phangan, to have yet another amazing five days of partying before, during and after the famous monthly full moon party.

There seems to be a widespread assumption that backpacking and solo party holidays are a young person’s game: to be undertaken in one’s early twenties and definitely not after thirty. Do it while you can, they exclaim. Do it while you’re young!

I think this presupposes that a person turns thirty then immediately gets married and has children – which to be fair is the most common situation I’m now observing among my peers.

As for me, although I feel a far cry from my 20-year-old self (in nothing but a good way), when sitting at Dancing Elephant (the self-proclaimed craziest party hostel on the craziest party island in Asia) I felt identical to how I felt at 27 when I first went to that island four full moon parties previously. I also have possibly four times as much self-confidence as I did at even 25, which makes socialising on trips like these significantly easier and more rewarding.

Moreover, working full-time significantly increases one’s appreciation of travel. I noticed this keenly on my Fraser Island camping/party trip a year ago, when I met a fellow 29-year-old who, like me, couldn’t fathom the younger people’s lack of enthusiasm or willingness to make the most of our few short days in a beautiful part of Australia. They just didn’t appreciate it. Endless travel was their norm, and probably no longer that exciting for them.

It’s also worth noting that most of the people I meet in Thailand and especially Koh Phangan were and are usually aged around 26-31 – despite disgruntled reviews always referring to ‘teenagers’ and ‘kids’. This could partly be because I automatically gravitate towards those around my age – but one twenty-year-old lamented that she felt quite out-of-place. So I’ve concluded that it simply takes time to have the money – and confidence – to do this kind of travelling.

And I wouldn’t go back to my days of shared hostel dorms when I can now afford a budget-wrecking AUD$25-45 a night (just kidding, that’s nothing by Australian standards) for a very nice hotel room in South-East Asia. Now my trips involve epic comfort, privacy and sleep during the day so I can be the last one standing at 6am.

So my driver’s licence says I’m 30 now, but I don’t feel any different. With a few days left on Koh Tao I booked another two weeks in Thailand in twelve weeks’ time from when I returned.

Of course, who knows what will change in the future. I will no doubt look back on this in no time and laugh at my current relative youth!

But to all you old blokes and ladies out there – you’re only as old as you feel.

Group on Koh Phangan 2017
A group of oldies on Koh Phangan the night after the full moon party

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