Travelling at 19 and Travelling at 26: What’s Changed (and what hasn’t)

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My travelling journey started in 2012, when I was barely 19 years old. Seven years later, I find myself closer to thirty than twenty (mildly terrifying) and even though seven years may not sound like a lot, in that time, I have achieved so much.

I’ve travelled to all seven continents, explored over 60 countries and had countless wonderful adventures abroad. In the grand scheme of things, seven years is just the blink of an eye, but despite that, it still amazes me how much I have done with that time, and also, how much my travel habits have changed.

What’s Changed

My willingness to splurge

When my travelling journey began, I was a broke ass university student! Money for travelling was scrounged, saved and obtained through increasingly creative ways. I would put myself through all the discomfort in the world just to save a few dollars. I once spent 12 hours on a bus instead of 90 minutes in a plane to save a grand total of $20!

I was so incredibly frugal, and totally unwilling to spend any more money than I absolutely had to.

Fast forward seven years, and all of a sudden I actually have quite a lot of disposable income! Sure, I don’t have much in the way of assets and my savings account could afford to be a little bit fatter, but I don’t have debts or much of anything tying me down! My monthly expenses only make up about 15% of my income, which means that I really do have the financial freedom to do a lot more than I used to.

I think of myself as a ‘mixed traveller’, I travel on a budget most of the time, but I am now happy (and able) to splurge and splash out on experiences that are truly special.

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How I manage long haul flights

When I was nineteen, I would book the cheapest long haul flights that I could find, which were mostly overnight flights. I suck at sleeping on planes and thus have always found overnight flights a pretty intense form of torture. However, I used to be prepared to endure such torture in order to save a buck.

Not anymore though! These days I much prefer to choose flights that depart at around 9am and spend the day in the air, chilling out, watching films and not feeling any pressure to sleep. These flights are almost always more expensive, but they allow me to arrive at a destination at night, go straight to sleep and wake up the next day refreshed and ready to conquer the world!

What accommodation I choose

Money is fast becoming a common theme here. At nineteen, my accommodation of choice was whatever was cheapest!

24 bed dorm? For sure!

Bed bugs? Rite of passage!

One working toilet for fifty backpackers? Why not?

I still do love a good backpackers (and honestly, I often have the most fun at the cheapies) but I am also much more likely to opt for AirBnBs, to choose a private room in a hostel or just to book a straight up hotel for a few nights. I now have many more options, which means that how and where I sleep whilst travelling is ever changing – which I love.

My camera gear

Once upon a time, I really did think my iPhone 4S was all the photographic equipment I could ever want, but that has changed in a massive way. Whilst using that phone, I quickly discovered that I actually really loved taking photographs, and when they turned out well it brought me a huge sense of satisfaction.

I didn’t end up purchasing any real photographic equipment until 2015, mostly due to financial restraints, but also due to fear. I was scared that if I had anything valuable that it would get lost, stolen or broken. I was also fearful that I would have no idea how to use photographic equipment – which I absolutely didn’t!

My first trip to Greenland was the catalyst that prompted me to take the plunge. Going to Greenland was going to be expensive, difficult and at the time, I thought that it might be a once in a lifetime kind of adventure. The thought of going on that trip without a proper camera wasn’t one that I wanted to entertain, so I went ahead and invested in my first gear – an Olympus OM-D EM1 Mi and a 12-40mm f2.8 lens.

In 2017 I invested in a 7-14mm f2.8 lens. In 2018 I upgraded to the EM-1 Mii and also drunkenly purchased a drone in Singapore airport.

These days, I carry my OM-D EM1 Mii, three lenses, a drone, tripod and underwater gear (when needed). I used to hate the thought of lugging around so much gear, now I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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How I do airports and layovers

As a baby traveller, I always thought that sleeping on the floor of airports was just part of the deal, now I hardly ever do it! As a regularly fatigued and slightly older traveller, a good nights sleep is worth parting with some money for.

Those overpriced hotels in airports? Bring those babies on and let this gal get a good rest!

Who I travel with

When I started travelling (and when I started this blog) I was truly a solo traveller. I went on all my trips alone and at the time, couldn’t imagine it any other way.

I still love solo travel and truly relish in those few trips that I do get to have alone, but I am also much more excited about travelling with others.

I now regularly go on trips with boyfriends, best mates and even my dearest Daddio!

In the beginning, my travels were solo by necessity. These days, when I travel solo it is because I choose to, not because I have to.

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What Hasn’t Changed!

My willingness to stay in a dorm (when needed)

Despite staying in dorms much less than I used to, I am absolutely happy to do so when necessary. If other accommodation is too expensive, poorly located or just plain not what I’m vibing, I will still hit up a backpackers with the same enthusiasm that I did as a nineteen year old.

The way I research and plan trips

I still am physically unable to plan trips without a notepad, pen and highlighter. In theory, it would be so much easier to digitalise the process, but that’s just not how I roll.

My ability to survive on noodles and vegemite sandwiches

Despite having more moolah than I used to, that doesn’t mean that I don’t find myself skint anymore! I still regularly find myself going over budget and to compensate, I eat the nothing but the cheapest food possible until I am back on track.

The rush of excitement I get when arriving to a new place

You might think that after travelling to so many new places that you’d become complacent or stop getting excited, but you’d be wrong.

After all these years, I still can’t get off of a plane without feeling the familiar warm rush of pure happiness, excitement and curiosity.

I truly hope that that feeling never goes away.

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

8 thoughts on “Travelling at 19 and Travelling at 26: What’s Changed (and what hasn’t)

  1. Your travels have always amazed me, the places you go and how you get around. I admire your courage! I won’t travel outside of the States these days unless it’s Canada. πŸ₯°β€οΈπŸ˜Ž

  2. This is such a lovely post! It’s so amazing that you’ve travelled so much and it’s so true that you just travel and live within your means. Your photographs are incredible too!!

  3. While reading this I see myself now the same of your 19 year old self that getting skint and sleeping on airport floors is really a part of the deal. thanks for this reminder because I am a thriving domestic traveler in the Philippines. Best of luck~

  4. Almost all of your post applies to me. I started at 19 and now I’m 36. I remember the 10hr bus ride to save an airfare and I’ve failed at sleeping in airports (although I still refuse to splurge on airport hotels). I used to always dorm, now I mix it up: dorm, private, motel, hotel. I’ll also always pay more for a faster transit with fewer connections now. Here’s to many more years of adventures ahead!

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