Solo female travel in your thirties? It’s so much better than you think

Hands up ladies if you are aging like fine wine

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As the calendar ticked over in mid-May and my 36th birthday rolled around, I couldn’t help but begin reflecting on some of those scary, big questions no one really wants to face. Starting with the obvious – do I want kids? A flexible no. Do I want to date? It’s hard to date when you hate men. Do I want to stay in Wānaka long term? Maybe. When and where would I buy a house one day? Note to self – ramp up saving for a house.

It’s so easy for me to slip into negative thought patterns about money and relationships, chastising myself for not following a traditional life path. My life in Wānaka is normal; most of my friends are either on their second kid or their first divorce. To slip into a comparative mindset is second nature for me. It takes some heavy self-reflection to step back and reform the narrative. I know, I know, a lot of therapy talk. Listen, I paid an absolute shit-ton of money for therapy over the years, and I’m going to make every penny count. 

So, shifting my thoughts toward positive things may be harder, for it will be me, but it will be better in the long run. I try to focus on my successes and wins. I dwell on travel memories and lessons I’ve learned over the years. How different I am at 36 than 26. Older, wiser, more botox, you know, the usual.

solo female travel in your thirties

But some things stay the same: I’m an introvert, and I hate people. This means I’m still rocking the good old solo female travel lifestyle. To be honest, I don’t really see this ever changing. I love traveling on my own as much as I did 17 years ago when I boarded a one-way flight alone to Spain to study abroad for a year. In fact, I’ve solo traveled so hard for so long that I don’t even think of it as anything but just travel.

What I find fascinating is how the travel landscape has changed. I still used calling cards on pay phones to ring my family that year in Salamanca. I would travel by train, arrive in a new town, and just rock up to the information center and ask about hotels. No one had smartphones and actually had to ask people for directions. I can still remember the first time someone asked ME for directions in Spain in Spanish – felt like a dream come true to appear local even though I had zero idea of where they wanted to go.

Perhaps something I didn’t anticipate was that I found solo female travel in your thirties even more rewarding than when I was younger. Why? Because I’ve changed. After ruminating on this for a while, I’ve decided to pop down six reasons why solo female travel in your thirties is amazing. I’m curious if you agree with them. Enjoy!

solo female travel in your thirties
solo female travel in your thirties

1. Your confidence shines brighter than ever

One of the best benefits of getting older is that you start to give less fucks about so many things. A lifetime people-pleaser, it’s always been hard for me to say no. But the past few years have been amazing; I just don’t care as much as I used to. 

I can be direct with people in ways that were extremely difficult for me in my twenties. When I was trying to sell my car a few years ago, this guy was on the phone, borderline harassing me and telling me what to do, saying I knew nothing. Instead of waiting to wrap up the conversation, I just said, “I’m not enjoying this – goodbye,” and hung up. This may seem silly to some people, but for introverts, shy folk, and people who just hate conflict, it was a big deal. And standing up to men who demean me, talk over me, mansplain, or tell me what to do? That is starting to feel really good. 

Learning to be more direct and not being as afraid of rejection in whatever capacity is empowering. This carries over beautifully with solo female travel in your thirties. Traveling on your own as a woman can be scary. You probably haven’t honed your bullshit radar or learned to trust your instincts over being polite. But in your thirties? “Sir, I’ve already paid you twenty bucks to ride this camel around the Pyramids. I’m not paying you more. Period.”

God, I can’t wait til I’m 70, and I can just boss people around left, right, and center with zero fucks to give.

solo female travel in your thirties
solo female travel in your thirties

2. Your bank account looks way better

I want to preface this by saying you probably have more money in your thirties than in your twenties. I’m sure some people don’t. In fact, at one point in my thirties, I had negative money for quite a while. But for the rest of you guys who know how to live within your means, this is for you. 

When I first started backpacking and traveling on my own at 19, I was cheap for a long time. I had to be. My jobs paid me between $5.85 and $7 an hour in the US. Yes, multiple jobs. And also, being at university when I somehow thought it was a good idea to go to a school where a four-year degree costs $200,000. I say this with privilege, but I think it’s safe to assume that many of us by our thirties have managed to sock some money away and have better jobs and, hopefully, a smaller student loan debt.

Finally, gone are my years of staying in 15-bed hostels and sleeping on airport floors. I will pay more for better seats on flights or even upgrades (travel is my work, remember), I don’t fly shitty budget airlines if I can help it, and I’ll take Ubers over public transport. 

However, I did just get horrific food poisoning from my business class breakfast on my LATAM flight home from South America. So fancier doesn’t always mean better, though I will say it is much nicer to spew your guts out in the private bathrooms in airport lounges. 

solo female travel in your thirties
solo female travel in your thirties

3. Your tastes in *literally* everything have improved (or evolved)

Wine. Food. Travel destinations. Style. Men. I can guarantee that your taste has improved across the board. This likely goes hand in hand with your financial situation improving too. Did I really used to wear dresses over jeans, with my hardcore side part fringe and pierced lip? My Facebook albums from 2007 sure show that I did. Last time I was in America I walked into an Urban Outfitters and then immediately walked right back out.

I remember studying abroad in Spain, and we used to drink Don Simón red wine in a box that cost one euro. Now for me, food culture has become one of my favorite parts of travel. I love exploring places through food. And good food does not always mean more expensive. I will sit on a bucket and devour street soups in Hong Kong just as much as I enjoyed a degustation lunch at Lung King Hee, the first Chinese restaurant in the world to receive three Michelin stars at the Four Seasons. What’s NOT great is that I can’t eat like I did in my twenties; such a bummer.

Even my taste in destinations has changed. I used to want to backpack and move as much as possible. I didn’t get to travel as a kid, and as soon as I could pay my own way, I went far and wide. Nowadays, Ibiza, Mykonos, and Las Vegas don’t really appeal to me anymore. Even though many cities aren’t as appealing, I’d rather stay in small towns or in the countryside. I suppose this is more of an evolution, not necessarily improving taste, but you get the drift.

solo female travel in your thirties
solo female travel in your thirties

4. Slowing down, mindfulness, and self-care matter

With age comes wisdom (allegedly), like jumping off a very high bridge in Slovenia in your twenties (omg, this is an adventure of a lifetime!) to in my thirties, where I reflect and think, wow, that was wildly unsafe. Nowadays, I like to slow down, go on a big hike or tramp, and challenge myself in other ways that are equally fulfilling in my thirties.  

My definition of self-care while traveling in my twenties was staying in the same hotel for more than one night and not eating instant noodles for breakfast. Instead of wanting to see everything, I now like to take it slow and base myself in one place. I even love to return to places I’ve been before that I loved so I can dig a little deeper. Solo female travel in your thirties is great because it taught me to be more mindful in every way.

I’m also way more aware of my presence and impact now when I’m traveling versus when I was younger. You know, simple things like following rules.  

solo female travel in your thirties

solo female travel in your thirties

5. Shifting priorities and no more discotecas

Gone are the days of “bartender, can I please order your strongest, cheapest drink?” I bet the things that interested you in your twenties while traveling are not the same as those in your thirties. In my twenties, I wanted to tick every single adventure off my bucket list. I just wanted to go full throttle.

Skydiving in Switzerland? Diving with sharks. Backpacking through Southeast Asia. Remember Vang Vieng in Laos? Or how about Thailand? I can still remember doing my advanced diving course in Koh Tao and waking up so hungover the next morning (and not in my room – oops) that I almost puked in my regulator and couldn’t finish the dives for the day. Shame, shame, shame. 

Nowadays, my priorities have shifted from parties, boys, and going big to birdwatching, spas, and yelling at people to turn the music down after 8 pm. While I travel for the same reasons: curiosity, experience, and adventure, my definitions of those things are no longer the same. Solo female travel in your thirties has really evolved into specific experiences that usually involve fine wine tasting.

solo female travel in your thirties
solo female travel in your thirties

 6. You realize that those cheap 6 am flights are never worth it. Don’t do it.

Enough said.

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