Travel tales

My six ages of travel

My six ages of travel

As a blogger you’re always on the lookout for something new, but a new experience doesn’t necessarily have to involve a new destination. A change in travel style can make a visit to the same place feel completely different. Look at one of my favourite places – New York. On my first visit I stayed with relatives on the Upper East Side on my first trip outside Europe, next time I stayed in a hostel dorm in Times Square on the way to a working holiday, and most recently I rented an apartment in Harlem. So that’s three trips to the same destination but each with a totally different experience. It got me thinking about my travel style and how it’s changed over the years. It’s not been so much a gradual change but more a series of different phases. Or my six ages of travel, taking me all the way from childhood holidays to blogging trips.

Read more: My top round the world experiences and misadventures

Normandy beach

Very proud of my sandcastle – on the beach in Normandy

1. The family holiday years

My first travels were with the family, with years of holidays on the beach in Northern France, South Wales and Devon – all places close enough that three children wouldn’t have time to kill each other in the back of the camper van on the way. We’d load up with deckchairs, beach games and picnics and spend our days building epic sandcastles and rockpooling (and occasionally repurposing the groundsheet and some driftwood as a shelter to keep out the drizzle). We usually rented a cottage or caravan and self-catered, so we had the adventure of visiting French supermarkets and trying out weird food like langoustines, snails and smelly cheeses – I was probably a more adventurous eater at age eight than I am now.

Twin Towers

The World Trade Center from a helicopter on my first trip to New York

2. The discovery years

Just before going to university I did my first trip out of Europe to New York. I was blown away by the city – it was so different to anything I’d ever experienced and I soaked up the sights and the energy around me like a sponge. It made me realise how much you could learn and grow from experiencing different places and people and I couldn’t wait to see more. Next was a university field trip to Thailand where I fell in love with Southeast Asia, from the craziness of Bangkok to peaceful ancient ruins. And after that it was a summer working holiday in Cape Cod in the US, where I sold dodgy crafts to tourists and biked to the beach every afternoon. The travel bug had well and truly taken hold by now and there was no going back.


A winter weekend escape to Amsterdam

3. The Ryanair years

Post-university, moving to London meant I was even more broke than as a student, plus I now had a limited holiday allowance to contend with. Luckily this was the time budget airlines started up, when you really could bag a Ryanair flight for £1 and they hadn’t cottoned on to the possibility of squeezing more money out of you for every extra. So whenever I spotted a sale I’d email a load of friends and see who fancied a trip. We did long weekends in Venice, Amsterdam, Budapest and Nice, each time with a different group of people but usually in the depths of winter when it was cheapest. Everyone was broke and single so we’d stay in hostels or pile four people into a hotel room and live off cheap beer and sandwiches.

Fraser Island in Australia

New friends on a trip around Fraser Island in Australia

4. The RTW years

After a while weekend breaks weren’t enough so I scraped money together to visit Thailand and then Malaysia, but soon that wasn’t enough either. So in 2003 I packed in my job, bought a one-way RTW ticket, filled an enormous rucksack and headed off for a year in India, Southeast Asia and Australia with my best friend. We had no money but plenty of time, so this was slow, cheap travel – overnight buses, cockroach-ridden dorms, Thai buckets and banana pancakes. We fell in love with a different place (and often man) every week and overstayed almost everywhere, ending up four months late getting to Australia. The working holiday there was a lot more holiday than work, but the memories of travelling around the country from Cairns to Darwin were more than worth the year it took to pay it off afterwards.

Palm tree at Cahuita National Park

Escaping London for some Costa Rican tropical beach time

5. The holiday years

Back in London and back to the nine to five, the holiday allowance was limited again but I finally had money to spend. Friends started getting married and having kids, so it was time for proper couples’ holidays – flying with a decent airline, staying in hotels, drinking cocktails and eating in restaurants. I even got over my dislike of exercise and the cold and tried skiing for the first time. Having a bit more of a budget meant I could cross a few trips off my wish list – spotting sloths in Costa Rica, lounging on a white sand beach in the Cayman Islands, road-tripping down Highway 1 in California. I became an expert in stretching out the holiday allowance and even managed to talk my boss into a six-week sabbatical to New Zealand.

Sailing out of Santorini on Celebrity Equinox

Sailing out of Santorini on a blog trip with Celebrity Cruises

6. The blogging years

Eventually I’d had enough of both London and my job, so left both and started up as a freelancer in Cheltenham. I took a big pay cut but working for myself meant I could do it anywhere, so I could stay places for longer, travelling slower by staying in apartments and self-catering. So now I mix up a bit of everything – travel and home, local and long haul, train trips and cruise ships. I also started blogging almost five years ago, which means my travel obsession has gone into overdrive, and anyone I travel with knows better than to go into a hotel room or eat food before I’ve photographed it. But it’s led to some fantastic travel opportunities and new friends all over the world – I think it might be my best age of travel yet!

So how about you, what are your different ages of travel?

Read more travel musings

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From family holidays to blogging trips – looking back through my six ages of travel at how my travel style has evolved over the years.

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  • Reply
    April 16, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    You have a great travel history! I didn’t start traveling until I was in my late 30s when my daughter was an airline hostess for TWA and the fare was just paying the taxes. After she left the airline, I traveled with friends, finding
    bargain trips. When I was 67, I joined the Peace Corps and taught English at a university in Slovakia for two years. That also allowed me to travel to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Vienna. I can’t afford to travel now, but I wish I had been able to start earlier in life.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Having a daughter as an airline hostess must have been very handy! And I love that you taught with the Peace Corps too. Although I did my long RTW trip I’d love to spend an extended period in another country to really get a feel for the place.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    This is such a great post – it’s fascinating to read about how your travel tastes and trends have changed. I am very much in the Ryanair stage of things right now, look forward to the rest!

    • Reply
      April 17, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks John! I loved the Ryanair stage, getting to travel with lots of random groups of friends was fab (before everyone started house-buying, marriage and kids!).

  • Reply
    April 17, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Travel definitely changes as you get more experienced/ have a better budget. I’m currently doing the 9-5 in New Zealand, halfway around the world and halfway through my around the world trip… but as I have no plans anything could happen…once I actually have some money in my bank account, that is!

    • Reply
      April 17, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Yes money definitely makes a difference! I don’t think I’d every be a luxury traveller though – I’d always rather do a few trips than one expensive one. Hope you’re enjoying New Zealand, I loved my time out there.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2015 at 7:35 am

    This is an awesome post !!! I hope I will reach the RTW step as well 🙂

    • Reply
      April 17, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks so much, the RTW stage was so much fun – I wish I’d been blogging then but have lots of great memories.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I loved this post! Your travel history and mine have many similarities but, of course, just as every age has a difference, every traveler does things a bit differently. So fun to read about your way! (I may even have to semi-steal this post idea – but I will give you credit if I do!)

    • Reply
      April 17, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Thank you (and feel free to steal!) – I really enjoyed looking back and remembering lots of trips from years ago so would be really interesting to hear other people’s travel histories too.

  • Reply
    The Vagabond Baker
    April 17, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Wow, what adventures you’ve had Lucy! My travel life didn’t really start till my mid twenties, before that it was Uk-based weekends away in the VW camper van. I then had the holiday years for a short time then RTW and the blogging years, my travel has got slower and slower! I wouldn’t change it for anything!

    • Reply
      April 20, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      You’ve definitely packed a lot in though since you started travelling! I really like the idea of slow travel and taking time to get to know a destination and soak up the atmosphere (helps with the fact that I’m a bit lazy to do those sort of five countries in a week trips too!).

  • Reply
    Runaway Brit
    April 18, 2015 at 6:05 am

    What a lovely idea for a post! I really enjoyed reading this, and it has got me thinking about my own ages of travel (the title of the post also really appeals to my Eng Lit teacher side), which are quite similar to yours.

    I’d like to replicate the earlier poster who said they want to write their own version of this post. Maybe you could turn it into one of those viral posts – nominate 3 bloggers to write their own, who in turn nominate 3 more etc… 😀

    • Reply
      April 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks, I really enjoyed looking back and remembering some great travel adventures (even dug out the old photo albums from the days before digital cameras!). You’re very welcome to do your own version too, would love to hear your travel stories!

  • Reply
    Megann Phillips
    April 26, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I’m in my “study abroad” years, which means I’m pretty much paying for all of my travel with student loans. But I’d like to look back on this phase of my life someday and think, “Hey, that was the beginning of my blogging phase, too.” It would pretty much be ideal if I could just run a successful travel blog for the rest of my life, from here on out… So props to you, Lucy! You’re officially my career inspiration.

    • Reply
      April 26, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks Megann, that’s great to hear. I wish that blogs had been around when I started travelling and did my RTW trip, my version of a blog was a paper diary and film camera photos! Best of luck with your site and hope you have lots of great years of travel and blogging to come.

  • Reply
    April 27, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I love this idea – a few of mine are very similar: camping holidays in France as a child, interrailing on a tiny budget then discovering the world some more in Egypt and SE Asia plus those low-cost flights for weekends away. Although I never managed an RTW, I did have more and more adventures before the current age of travelling – discovering the world with a small companion 🙂

    • Reply
      April 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks Cathy, I’m a latecomer to European train trips as never did the Interailing stage but am catching up with it now! Yes I bet travel with a toddler has been a very big change in travel style, though great to see her excitement at exploring the world.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Inspiration! It’s a really good reminder that I will go through different stages throughout my life. I know this, I just forget. So often we get caught up in what and where we think we should be at, and forget that life is long enough to enjoy all types of traveling. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Reply
      May 5, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Thank you – yes it’s interesting to look back and see how far you have come and how much you have changed!

  • Reply
    Thuymi @
    May 10, 2015 at 6:34 am

    This is a great post and a great idea for a blog post. Will write one for sure in the near future. Great inspiration, keep showing us your great pictures!

    • Reply
      May 12, 2015 at 5:32 am

      Thanks so much, look forward to reading your version too!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I’m late to join in the discussion here, but very neat idea. I’m definitely still in the Discovery and Ryanair years now and will be for the foreseeable future as I’m in my last year of college/uni. But, I’ll have a car at school this year, so I’m excited to take day trips throughout Maine to places I haven’t had access to before.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Love this – what a great way to sum up the different travel phases. I think minus the RTW phase, I’ve had similar phases as well!

    • Reply
      December 14, 2016 at 9:25 am

      It was so interesting to look back on my travel history – lots of great memories (though I don’t fly with Ryanair these days!).

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