Can you be to old for backpacking in NZ?
For me, age always has been and hopefully always will be a number. It’s more about how you live your life rather than the amount of candles on your cake. Some of the best people I have met on my travels have been well above forty plus, the two people who inspired me to write about my travels are both in their late thirties. It first came to my attention that NZ was going to be a bit of a wake-up call when a friend whom I met in Cambodia, who had just turned 30, warned me that I should be aware that I will never feel so old as when I stay in a hostel in NZ. I scoffed at such a notion but she is correct. Backpacking in New Zealand makes me feel old.
I have now spent three months here, the majority of it spent staying at the Worldwide Backpackers in Wellington. I had a wonderful time and met many fantastic people but the entire time I was there, I was the oldest person in the hostel at twenty seven. It seems that the hostels in NZ are fully of people who are nineteen and twenty. I shared a room with a girl who was nine years younger than me. Shared beers with a guy who was fourteen the first time I went travelling and had dinner every night with people the exact same age as my youngest sister. The idea of being at home and hanging out with people my youngest sister’s age feels ever so slightly weird. Don’t imagine my sister would be too pleased about it either!
While they do make me feel old. I am full of admiration for people so young who go off travelling to the other side of the world. Especially those who have English as their second language. In fact it makes me rather embarrassed as I could barely tie my shoe-laces when I was a 19 year old. It has also been nice to take on the role of hostel big brother passing on my years of wisdom to those at the start of their travels but it also serves as a reminder of how naive I was when I started my travels and demonstrates how far I have come in the past five years. I look back at some of the mistakes I made in Australia and cringe. Travel certainly makes you grow up fast.
So I have found myself asking is it me? Have I become too old to be hanging around backpacker hostels? Should I read this as a sign that it’s time to move on and consider the world of flashpacking? I have met many people who have lived in hostels because it suited them at the time but would never go back. Should I have moved on to? It did get me thinking about where have all the twenty something’s gone?
This is my forth major trip in five years. My first trip to Australia for a year was taken as a fresh faced twenty three year old in 2006. In that year I found myself just below the average age of twenty five / twenty six, being the majority of people I met. Whilst I did meet a few really young people it was not uncommon to stay in a hostel with quite a lot of people around the age I am now.
The reduction of people at my age travelling I presume is a direct result of the global financial down turn. People now seem reluctant to take a gamble on a year out. People will no longer take their last opportunity before turning 30 and having the working holiday visa option slam shut on them. Companies can no longer afford to offer staff members a gap year. The surplus cash that is meant to be swirling around twenty something’s pockets seem to be no longer here.
Of course there is also the basic reality that everyone grows up and settles down at some point. There will always be the people you know from home who you know will settle early in life but you don’t think it will happen to your fellow travellers, the people you partied with till the sun comes up on a beach, shared a bucket of booze with in Bangkok, the people who swore they would travel till they drop, sadly stop being travellers and fade into the real world. The majority of my Facebook friends are people I have met on the road and my news page seems to be updated with wedding plans and people uploading pictures of their kids. Maybe one day it might even happen to me
Pehaps there could be a more simple explanation. New Zealand just appeals to the younger and adventurous crowd. It markets itself, quite rightly very well as the adventure capital of the world whereas Australia is all about sun and fun and the working holiday visa crowd over in Australia are more similar to a club 18-30 holiday than the sorts that want to jump out of a plane or climb a mountain. It’s probably no coincidence the large amounts of binge drinking British and Irish backpackers who populate the Australian backpacker scene are largely missing and replaced by a heavy amount of young adventurous Germans with a healthy mix of the new emerging Eastern European countries.
Whilst they may make me feel very old, the average New Zealand backpacker crowd is a much friendlier, fun and interesting crowd to mix with than there Australian counterparts.
Perhaps getting old isn’t so bad after all but it has still left me wondering if I am getting too old for this?
There are lots of older travelers in NZ but a lot of them avoid hostels altogether. So if you stay in hostels, it might skew your perception that NZ mainly attracts the younger independent travelers, which isn't the case.
Lis's Travel Tips 30 years of travel experience.
I have now spent three months here, the majority of it spent staying at the Worldwide Backpackers in Wellington. I had a wonderful time and met many fantastic people but the entire time I was there, I was the oldest person in the hostel at twenty seven. It seems that the hostels in NZ are fully of people who are nineteen and twenty.
WTF! Get out of your hostel and get out of Wellington. Check out the BBH network of hostels, aimed at independent travellers of all ages.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eureka-W ... 2916852962
When I was in Australia I felt old at 25. When I got to New Zealand, I found myself with people my age, and sometimes I was the youngest! Get out of the YHAs and check yourself into some BBH hostels!
Completely understandable that you feel a bit out of place at the hostel you described. And you shouldn't feel bad for feeling that way.
In NZ, there's just so many amazing things to see & do to have your mind all worked over with the age notion. Check out the suggestions already given, and search up others more suited to travelers your age---plenty of options out there.
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. ---St. Augustine
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Live each day as if it were your last because one day it will be.
families with babies to men and women 60+. Didn't feel oldish, ever. Mind you we didn't meet many people exactly OUR age, as most are home raising families and paying off the mortgage or whathaveyou. And we stayed in private rooms instead of the dorms, so maybe that is different?
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