Adventure, Travel

Traveling at 30

“Do it while you’re young” is the bad advice people always give me. I assumed they would stop saying this as I stopped being so young. While 30 is by no means old, it’s also not the epitome of youth. But people believe I must be a bright-eyed young wanderer to launch the Great Adventure.

So what is it like to adventure at 30?


I always had a strong sense of purpose. As a kid I had many ideas on what I wanted to do in life, and I was quick to form them into solid plans as I got older. This is unusual, and it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because everyone is impressed when a teenager has a really thorough plan. They flatter you and it feels good. You are rewarded for making plans.

But long-range plans always have an element of risk. More so if you made the plans when the two hemispheres of your brain weren’t done connecting yet. A 17 year old committing to a 10 year course of action (this school, this major, this career) is a crime against youth.

Plans have a way of blinding us. When you are sure you’re doing x you may never notice options y and θ. This is true at any age, but it’s particularly tragic when it limits someone in their formative years.

I became conscious of this during college. I decided to to drop my double major (business, philosophy) and just go with the one that moved my heart (philosophy). I took a risk and quit my part-time job as a project manager. I focused on my writing, launched my own field study, and sold spells and charms to make a living.

I tasted freedom, and I liked it.

It was then, at age 20, that I decided I was going to walk to South America. If I had, it may have been my first truly purposeless time in life. When people think of traveling they think of goalless wandering, and in many ways it would have been.

At 30, finally preparing to start my adventure, it is no longer purposeless. I spent my “drifting” time in the less exciting surrounds of Minneapolis, and I’m past that point. I know pretty well who I am; I know my ideals, and not to trust my beliefs. Would it have been more interesting to come of age on the road? Certainly. But there’s no doing it over. Drifting just to drift doesn’t hold the appeal it once held.


I have become keenly aware of my fragility. I maintain a functional bravery, because bravery is the most effective mode of living. But it is also a measured bravery. I test rusty old ladders before I climb them. I don’t balance along railings and ledges just for fun. When I try something for the first time, I seek out training.

This is very new.

For some people, easing off the pointless risk might be gradual. For me, breaking my ankle was all it took. I endangered my entire adventuring career with 1.5 daredevil seconds. I could have lost everything I love; instead I lost two years.

It left a deep impression on me. If I traveled in my early 20s I would have taken a lot more risk. That may not have been a good thing.

Barbed Arrows

Recently I wrote about how maturity is pursuing your dreams. Passing up your dreams leads to regret and regret poisons everything else you do.

Well, for 8 years I passed up my dreams.

Regrets are like barbed arrows. They wound so easily but removing them is not so easy. I live with no regrets (as a matter of policy) in my current lifestyle, but I have regrets about the years I mis-spent. I try not to take these to heart; I don’t want them to spoil the fact that I’m now doing what I love. Perhaps my present lifestyle will be the antidote to my old regrets.

Is there something you wish you’d done earlier? Leave a comment and tell your story. Do you have regrets? Do they fade with time?


15 thoughts on “Traveling at 30

  1. To live without regret is to live without knowing the full breadth of what life can offer. Regret is a remedy, as all ‘mistakes’ are really lessons in disguise.

    I like your emphasis on plans and how that can lead you astray. The education system seems to be lacking in teaching how to make and achieve short term goals to meet long term goals. And its always best to start small and simple and work your way up instead of going all in right away. That route has a lot of headaches and worries.

    I had the mortality point the moment I became 4 months pregnant. I was down hill skiing and rolled four times losing five pieces of equipment, which would of been otherwise awesome, but then realized I’m no longer just responsible for myself anymore and need to be responsible for the well-being of someone I have yet to meet. I always loved pushing my limits and seeing how far up a tree I could go, or how far out I could swim in Lake Superior, or how close to cliff edges I could go. Things I wouldn’t do anymore. But I still have that streak in me and do less riskier things more enthusiastically. Like climbing sturdier and more easily climbable trees but being more goofy while doing it, or skinny dipping in semi-public areas – usually when its off season. If I get caught I laugh at myself – which only happened once and the people kept going down the trail without skipping a beat. Nudity doesn’t phase me, but I don’t like making other people uncomfortable, so I don’t streak. Still enjoy the odd private sun on skin day :)

    “Is there something you wish you’d done earlier? Leave a comment and tell your story. Do you have regrets? Do they fade with time?”

    I have had so many interests that I had to chose one over another at some point. Because of this I don’t really regret my decisions. Not to mention that for most of my life when I had a tough decision to make I had always asked myself which I would regret more and went with it. I obviously have regrets on different things in the past, but not with my future goals, at least not yet. The other things I’ve regretted I’ve ensured that I learned from them which makes them valuable. In that sense, I don’t regret having regrets.

  2. DiannaMoon says:

    I think what I regret most is how what I wanted for my life (my dreams, if you will) could not happen because of odds stacked against me. What I wanted was to be a famous singer (sounds childish but these were childhood dreams). I went to school for music. I found that I am not a great musician (can’t write my own songs) and trying to find a songwriter is very very difficult (because in the industry people always something for nothing). It doesn’t mean I didn’t try but living in NYC demands a paycheck and I couldn’t just sing at karaoke bars and make a living.

    I used to feel that I was born too late. The 60’s and 70’s were a great time to get a record contract. Agents went to bars and clubs and really researched the people they liked and brought them in. This died in the 80’s and 90’s (where I fell). You had to have contacts in order to get an audience and I didn’t have that.

    Meanwhile, I found The Goddess. I worked at bookstores. I was happy because of the self discoveries I was making but there was always that guilt of “what could have been”.

    In some ways I now feel that I was born too early. I realize that right now I could put videos on YouTube. I could do cover songs and not worry about original music. But it is not as important as it once was. Its not the career that I chose. Oh, I can still sing. My love of music hasn’t changed.
    As a rule, I don’t regret the way that my life has taken shape. There were lessons of ego and pride (and others) that I needed to learn. I am happy where I am and I look forward to when the kids are grown and out for the next adventure in my life.

    • Those are heavy feelings Dianna. Do you feel like it is too late to start self-promoting your singing nowadays? I see no reason why you can’t take your great trained voice, your years of life and perspective, and a youtube channel and give it a whirl. Or am I missing something?

    • There are a fair number of people who’ve felt that they’ve pass their prime, but use their skill and knowledge base to support others just beginning their journeys into the field. Everyone needs that support when fledglings. Could that be something you’d be interested in? Besides, youtube vids can be a fun pastime whatever your talent :) *hopes to see your vids sometime*

  3. I got the opposite advice . . . do it when you’re retired. But I always retorted with what if I don’t live that long or am not physically able? Although, now, with the current market, my parents aren’t so confident in the value of saving for retirement.

  4. I think 30 is an excellent time in life for travel! I may not have decided to do a big walk like you have planned, but at 30 I managed to have plenty of adventure and then some. Most people I know begin to travel more after the age of 50, when they go into retirement or after they have made a stable foundation for themselves. I help out a friend who turned 61 this year who started her own business helping people in her age group gear up for travel. It is wonderful to help older adventurers dress for exotic places! It seems I have spent a great deal of my time helping other people achieve their dreams!

    My regrets? My only ones are all the times I wasted over men who were not worthy of my energy and time. I think in college if I had spent more time concentrating on what I loved to do and on accomplishing making my own dreams come true instead of chasing men, I think you would be reading about my great achievements today. But it is NEVER too late! I just wrote something in my blog today where I gave myself hope:

    Never let your struggles be your downfall, let them be the steps you took towards your victory.

    So I’ve decided to not regret my silly escapades with bad relationships. I think my regrets are fading, to answer that question. I have to laugh at the stupid and silly things I thought were the key to my happiness at the time. I learned.

    Even today I have learned that it is okay to support other people over being jealous of them. This way I am still dreaming and thinking about what I want to do. Meanwhile I get postcards, emails, and photos on my Facebook feed from friends and customers I’ve helped, very nice, and sometimes it makes me wistful – lonely. I have a good cry, get over it, and keep dreaming.

  5. Pingback: Disrupting Adventure | Kandice Cole

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