Am I too old for backpacking?

Am I too old for backpacking?

Having begun backpacking at the age of 27 and travelled fairly extensively I now am wondering at what age one becomes too old for backpacking. I mean feeling just as fit and in some ways stronger at the age of 39 I can't help wondering if I would be perceived as being too old for backpacking.

Nowadays people live longer, stay younger and one doesn't seem to age mentally only physically in terms of more wrinkles and perhaps a less sharp short term memory. One more than likely only lives once so should seize every moment to enjoy what is closest to them regardless of age.

Backpacking is a style of travel more than an age restricted type of travel in my mind but I wonder what others think. I know there are such things as Flash-packers who might skimp on accommodation and food costs and spend more on activities which to me makes a lot of sense. A bed for the night is simply a bed for the night especially if you change accommodation each night. And a meal is simply a meal. It is the experiences on those journeys that mean the most.

Many backpackers I have met in recent years are mid-twenties and often graduated from uni and taking a break before resigning themselves to around 40 years of work without much freedom. Others are older who have worked for a few years and got sick of the monotony of the rat race and sold up to travel.

So then when does one become too old for backpacking? Is it when a hangover lasts all day and renders one incapable of doing anything constructive but resting or regretting the excessive drinking the night before or is it when one can no longer carry a backpack on their back? To be honest I have seen very few so called backpackers of any age actually carry their backpack on their back and if they do it is not for very far!!

Many backpackers simply carry their backpack from a train to a taxi or to a bus to a hostel and the like. Is it perhaps based on ones tolerance to cooking and living on budget food such as noodles and only taking part in the cheapest of activities or using the bulk of ones funds for alcohol? Who knows what makes a backpacker a real backpacker I am interested to hear your views.

Posted By mick

Updated : 2nd August 2022 | Words : 405 | Views : 162772 | Comments : 29

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Backpacking is a state of mind not a statement of how old you are!! You can 'backpack' at any age. Travel as much as you can when you can, it doesn't matter how you travel, just travel as much as you can!

Posted By Candynie on Thursday 22nd November 2018 @ 01:26:06


Hi, I replied in Nov 2012 and am now 63yrs. I went backpacking for the first time visiting Australia, New Zealand, and am now in Vietnam, with Baliand Thailand next on my list! I'm on my own but went on guided tour with GAdventures to complete China. The whole trip is one great adventure that I can't wait to plan another, the people I've met and the countries visited have been most interesting and the memories will stay with me forever!


Posted By Caroline on Monday 23rd May 2016 @ 10:12:04


Mick, at 39 consider yourself still a mere pup and I would tell you about my first adventure/misadventures from 40+ but will not bore you so just be prepared to adjust and at 60+ you will still find friendly enough people with which to enjoy experiences, even if they might just be 20+, biggest problem as one ages is getting an upper bunk you do not really want to have to climb up to.


Posted By Greg on Monday 23rd May 2016 @ 09:05:21


Hey Mick, like the rest say age is just a number really and its only the body that ages eh...the dreams and adventures are always real....and even the young peeps commenting on here will reach {hopefully} the same place as you and I are in now. I to have always backpacked {now 62} and done a lot ! Last year rumbled through Thailand, Singapore, quick visit and into Phillipines where I met MET my brother...small world eh ha ha. Anyway I have decide to cycle tour now with the ole panniers et al and I find it absolutely amazing AND hopefully getting to Tazmania late 2016 early 2017 to do 6 weeks and go wherever I can get anyone want to join me really IS about the hear and now for which way is the sunset eh

Keep going matey



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Posted By Walt on Thursday 28th January 2016 @ 23:58:39


I did a lot of backpacking in my 20s and as the article says, gradually left it behind due to marriage, children and work demands. Then many years later I discovered lightweight backpacking in my mid 50s. This was a revelation as we used to think one could only survive in the wilderness with massive amounts of gear, food and what-if supplies. Im now 64 and still able to get out on trips from 3 to 7 days long and since I live in Colorado USA Im often packing at over 11000 ft elevation. My weight for a 4 day trip is about 21 lbs including food and water. In the desert this goes up some due to the need to carry water. I believe that as long as ones joints hold out that we can backpack into our 70s albeit at a slower pace as we age.


Posted By David Heath on Friday 17th July 2015 @ 05:52:39


I am 72 and love camping. People are shocked when I tell them I go by myself but I am a widow and nobody wants to go so, what am I supposed to do? Stay home and rot?


PHONE : 7052223741

Posted By cathy kankaine on Thursday 14th August 2014 @ 10:20:59


Hi. Is there anyone out there who has backpacked around Africa in their 50's/60's, or interested in doing so? Would be grateful for any feedback. Thanks, Lorraine


PHONE : 0401660155

Posted By lorraine on Tuesday 11th February 2014 @ 21:31:05


Thank you Caroline. I guess we could always take off with what we have and if we feel it is a mistake, order the alternative (back pack w wheels) while on the road.

Posted By nur on Wednesday 18th December 2013 @ 12:23:46


Hi Nur
We completed all our travels using an ordinary soft case with two wheels, much cheaper than the backpack with wheels! At no time did we feel arkward as many travellers had similar wheely type cases. Enjoy your travels.


Posted By Caroline on Wednesday 18th December 2013 @ 05:03:53


I actually have that exact pack and it only weighs 3.5kg so about the same as a regular pack; and has a pull out aluminium handle making it even easier to wheel about. Plus it has a handy shoulder strap too, and a handle at the top and bottom making it easy to lift into taxis, onto conveyor belts and onto those racks in hotels. It's an awesome pack.

Posted By John on Tuesday 17th December 2013 @ 15:04:41


John, thank you - that is the decision I am leaning toward and concerned only because the combo is heavier than the other options. Have you noticed if older people are favoring these? Any idea if folks are happy with them? Thanks!


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Posted By Nur on Tuesday 17th December 2013 @ 14:35:01


Hi Nur,

There are actually backpacks with wheels built in. These are great for around airports, getting from taxi's into hotels that sort of thing, plus they have a carry handle on the side like a suitcase and also backpack straps in a hidden compartment for if you need them.

Basically everything in one item. You will probably find the wheels a really useful aspect.

Posted By John on Tuesday 17th December 2013 @ 12:46:39


Hi all, my husband and I are planning a year long trip. We are in our mid / late 50's. I am having a real hard time wrapping my head around the luggage question. Backpack? Wheels? Or combo (wheels with straps for short term use -- these weigh more than the other two options). Your thoughts please!!!?? Thank you all.

Posted By Nur on Tuesday 17th December 2013 @ 10:20:10


Hi Lorraine,

Go girl go! Although I travelled with my husband I found throughout my travels in Thailand, Singapore and Austrailia that in all hostels,backpackers and budget accommodation people to be friendly and helpful. I initially booked my first few weeks before I went so that I could become familiar with the area, talk to other tavellers and checked out public transport; used trains alot; and then booked ahead further accommodation using Ialso found tripadviser good for advice on using quieter hostels but close enough to walk into town area.
Hope this is helpful


Posted By Caro on Saturday 17th August 2013 @ 07:07:39


I am thinking about going away 54 and very young at heart, I am now living by myself so I am planing a trip, looking to go away for 6 months, not sure were to start all I know you have to start somewhere.

Live life to the top x


Posted By lorraine on Friday 16th August 2013 @ 03:43:00


Hi everyone,
I've really got the travel bug and keen to take off. I loved my European backpacking holiday when I was 18 and wondering if there is a tour group as such as I will be traveling on my own at the tender age if 50. Perhaps Canada or South America - I haven'te decided yet. But what I know is I need a break from the work schedule and will leave at the end of July! Anyone out there can help with 'back packing tour operators' please. Thanks all warm regards Carole.

Posted By Carole on Friday 28th June 2013 @ 08:10:59


Wow radio time and all. 
Definitely not too old. I've met people in their 60s, 70s, and I just look at them with admiration. I don't appreciate when the old dudes get drunk with the young ones and make passes at the young ladies -- that is definitely uncomfortable. I like the ones who are either really fun (without being inappropriate) or really wise and chilled out. Backpacking is about seeing the world and experiencing all. Just because most of us are in our 20s doesn't mean we are the bosses, we don't want to push the others out. Anyway, you are not even old :)

Posted By lilleaf on Tuesday 29th January 2013 @ 20:24:28


Hello Mick, we are a radio station doing a story on backpacking as you get older. We'd love a chat with you if you are available? Cheers, Helen

Posted By Helen on Wednesday 5th December 2012 @ 12:53:27


I dont think backpacking is every somehting that someone is 'too old for'. Backpacking is enjoyable regardless of the degree of difficulty. I traveled all around New Zealand for 6 months backpacking. Please check out my blog if you would like to hear a few of my stories.


PHONE : 9785004218

Posted By stephlama on Saturday 1st December 2012 @ 05:25:52


I sincerely hope you are never too old!
I'm retiring at the grand young age of 60 years and my plans are to go backpacking in Thailand and Austraila, to go to places that I couldn't afford to when I was in my twenties!


Posted By csilko on Monday 19th November 2012 @ 02:51:34


Who cares how old you are, if you are enjoying your travels no matter how you do it then go for it. I envy all those out there 40+ yrs and still backpacking, I did it in my 20's and just loved it. I have 2 young children now and getting ready to travel around australia for a yr or so in our caravan, can't wait to do that, but when I get a chance to pack that back pack again an head off on an adventure, no matter what age I am, I just can't wait.


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Posted By Wadeyfam on Thursday 15th November 2012 @ 17:48:00


Backpacking is a passion - there's no age limit for this. As long as you pack light and is fit and good to go, then even if you're at your 50's I guess you will still be able to do it. :)


Posted By andrewwilson on Sunday 4th November 2012 @ 15:34:23


Backpacking is for all ages. Live life don't work life!! People who backpack when they are in their twenties will backpack again in later life, second childhood, third childhood! whatever you want to call it. If you feel like doing it, do it and enjoy the freedom of backpacking at any age.

Posted By Paul on Friday 19th October 2012 @ 23:10:32


I don't agree with you that you are too old for backpacking, Last year my parents went abroad and spent a week in various places. When they came back they looked younger than their age. I think travelling is not for younger, it is a hobby for all human like kids, younger or older.

Posted By danielle on Friday 17th August 2012 @ 19:37:36


Hi Robert, I have never been to China but certainly would like to go in the near future. It is great to hear that you and your wife are stillbackpacking in your 50's and this gives me much more confidence to take on the challenge in my late 30's. So I guess I have no excuses. Thank you for your feedback, Mick.

Posted By mick on Sunday 5th August 2012 @ 21:39:50


Two years ago my wife and I, both over 50, decided to spend some time backpacking around China. This involved many miles and hours of carrying the packs in unforgiving terrain and temperatures above 37 degrees C. We took five weeks to tour around most of China and we had a ball. Don't let your age be the governing factor whether you have fun or not. Get out there.


PHONE : 0413743433

Posted By Robertdehaan on Sunday 5th August 2012 @ 09:16:29


Who wants to work for 40 years? Travel as much as you can when you can, it doesn't matter how you travel, just travel as much as you can!

Posted By Josh on Thursday 26th July 2012 @ 19:03:27


Backpacking is a state of mind not a statement of how old you are!! You can 'backpack' at any age. It is about ones approach to travel and nothing to do with age.

Posted By Johanne on Thursday 26th July 2012 @ 14:47:36