Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to put everyone in the same box as we’re all different – I’m just speaking from my own experience and am sure some can relate! Both trips were amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing…
You won’t be able to resist a night out
Freshly out of college (or school if you’re reading in the US), aged just 18, going out and partying all night was a common occurrence the first world trip. We drank buckets a plenty in Bangkok, downed bags of ‘goon’ in Australia and bought the cheapest vodka we could find in Laos (rice vodka at just 80p a litre, if you’re wondering). The monstrous thumping head the morning after weren’t really a concern… we’d sleep away the morning and bounce right back after gulping up a fruit smoothie.
You’ll worry about the hangover
In my twenties, the desire to go out multiple nights a week has faded… sure, we still go out and have a good time but nowhere near on the same scale. The revolting hangovers are enough to make me think twice – a night out has to be planned. I’ll happily spend a little extra cash on good quality alcohol. No more opting for the cheapest spirit in store. It’s sometimes worth spending a bit more to look after your dear liver.
You’ll eat the cheapest food you can find
As a teen, admittedly I was a truly awful cook. I could whip up some beans on toast but cooking an entire meal from scratch? Never going to happen. I’ll never forget our first night staying in a hostel in Melbourne (a daunting and exciting experience for 3 fresh faced 18 year olds) – we headed to the kitchen confident our pizza dinner was a solid backpacker choice. Oh how very wrong we were. The kitchen was jam-packed with twenty-somethings chopping onions, frying garlic and creating Jamie Oliver worthy dishes. Our frozen value pizza looked utterly pathetic. I could see some seasoned travellers also thought so, judging by their sideways glances. Oh and we managed to burn it.
After another few months on road we had developed the capability to knock up some basic pasta dishes but supermarket shopping still entitled picking up the cheapest food we could find. We’d head straight for the reduced section absolutely starving. This odd choice of diet resulted in developing vitamin deficiencies – my answer at the time? Eating an entire bag of spinach for dinner.
You’ll research restaurants
I now care about the food I put in my body – getting my 5 a day in some way, shape or form is super important. Cooking entire meals? No longer a problem, in fact I enjoy it. Have learnt that finding the cheapest, grubbiest back-street cafes in Asia sometimes isn’t the wisest thing for your stomach. We research all eateries before dining on TripAdvisor now (sounds a tad lame but it’s so worth it!).
You’ll be room-mates with insects
Back in the day, we headed to multiple guesthouses until we found the very best deal. Our first night in Bangkok (way back in 2010) was spent in a filthy, cockroach infested room complete with a sheet for a window. It was a mighty £1 a night but we didn’t sleep. This didn’t seem to bother us as we were happy we’d scored such a steal. We would only opt for fan rooms only, air-con was considered a pure luxury. Idiots.
You won’t cope without air-con
Now, the idea of spending weeks in sweaty, bug infested room is a big no. I’ll happily fork out a little extra for a room with air-con if it’s like an oven outside. Being a perspiring mess for 24 hours a day is not fun. Paying for a sea view? Actually sometimes worth it.
You’ll hit the snooze button. A lot.
I won’t speak for everyone, as some teens are natural early birds, but for some reason at this age I needed WAY more sleep that the norm. Lying in until 11-12 was a common occurrence. Having to board the Kiwi Experience at 7am some mornings very nearly killed us. I still feel very guilty for sleeping my way through stunning journeys through New Zealand as I was ‘exhausted’.
You’ll want to seize the day
Now, probably I’d tell my 18 year old self to get a grip. Getting up early to seize the day is great. The light is beautiful, the days last longer, the beaches are empty – the list goes on. The idea of a dawn yoga session watching the sunrise actually sounds appealing.
You’ll walk everywhere
As a teen, whilst seeing the main sights was a must-do, a lot of time I found I wasn’t really taking it in as I should. I appreciated the beauty of a place but didn’t really delve into the history and be present in the moment. We’d end up walking EVERYWHERE to save money – often, by the time we’d arrived at the destination we’d be tired, aching and hungry.
But hey, we had more money buy souvenirs.
You’ll opt for the fasted mode of transport
In my twenties, this all seemed to change. We researched like crazy before visiting a place – the thought of potentially missing something incredible was a worry. If taking an internal flight was a more time-effective way of travelling over an 18 hr bus journey, we’d do it.
You’ll think you’re invincible
There is no doubt in my mind that as a teen I thought I was sort of invincible. My poor Mum was in a right panic when she found out we were heading on a spontaneous trip to Laos without the right vaccinations. “We can’t wait Mum” I said. “We’re going tubing. You float down the Mekong river all day and get pulled into bars. There’s rope swings and all sorts!” (Tubing is now an activity that is now banned in the country due to too many deaths per year). Sorry Mum. We also decided it was perfectly fine to head back to Bangkok during the 2010 Thai Military Crackdown despite desperate pleas across all parent camps for us not to.
Then there was the moped riding with no helmets (too hot for the head), hitch hiking across New Zealand and blunders into dodgy looking back-street Thai bars without a second thought. My friend even got a giant bamboo tattoo without any research on the studio (he was fine though… tattoo still looks great today).
You’re aware of your mortality
I’ll admit, I’m now the biggest research nerd. If we’re going anywhere with tropical diseases, having the right jabs and medicines is a must. I’ll tell my boyfriend off it he’s going to fast on the moped. I’ll wear a money pouch if I don’t feel safe carrying a hand bag. We even arrive at airports with time to kill. Don’t get my wrong, we still have tons of fun but grew up a little.