My husband and I are in our 20s. We don’t have kids, we don’t own property, and with the exception of some medical bills, we don’t have any debt. We are in our prime when it comes to carefree travel, and for the most part we can go anywhere and do anything we want.
Despite this, I hate these Pinterest lists that float around telling people about the places they have to see before they turn 30.
Because the fact is, the world in all its beauty does not have an age limit.
These lists perpetuate the notion that your 20s are your “prime”, that travel is only available to the young, and that if you haven’t seen these places yet you are way behind in life.
The 1960-70s brought in a social trend that never seemed to leave. We live in a youth culture now, where media portrays the young as appearing to rule the world. If you watch movies from the 50s compared to today, notice the ages of the actors and extras. Everyone in the past was considerably older because they didn’t idealize youth the same way we do now.
The idea that young adults rule the world is a dangerous mindset that poisons the thoughts of the middle aged and older generations and makes them feel as if their time is already up and their golden years have already passed.
As a quick reminder, here are the names and ages of some famous people that didn’t make it big until a little later in life:
Martha Stewart started her catering business at 35.
Julia Child didn’t even start cooking until 36, and her famous book was published at 50.
Kristin Wiig wasn’t cast on SNL until she was 32
Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book in her 60s.
James Dyson didn’t have his first patent until he was 39.
Lucille Ball’s show wasn’t popular until she was 40.
Morgan Freeman’s first big acting role was cast at age 52.
I think your 20s are a fabulous time to travel. In your 20s, you usually have fewer commitments and are more flexible with where you sleep, what you eat, and how many layovers your flight has. You know what’s another fabulous time to travel? In your 30s, in your 40s, in your 50s, your 60s, your 70s, and until you drop dead.
Seeing your beautiful planet, meeting incredible people, learning new languages, and trying new food is not reserved for those in their 20s.
Furthermore, the pressure now put on those in their 20s to travel is almost just as ridiculous. Many Americans in their 20s have school loans, toddlers, or are in the process of establishing life long careers or entrepreneurial businesses. Travel lists like these make those in their 20s feel like they’re missing out on something they’ll never get back because they chose to pay off their school loans before backpacking through Europe.
I hope no one ever falls into the mindset that they aren’t able to afford to travel, or that they have too many responsibilities for it to be feasible, but what I especially hope is that no one ever feels that their time is up, or that they’re wasting their youth away by delaying it.
Stop the emphasis on age, and start encouraging global curiosity in everyone. You have one life to live, and age is literally just number.