Backpacking in the News

Link to article: Can you ever be too old for backpacking?

Apparently not.

Apparently not.

A few weeks ago (July 28), Kim Wildman wrote an article for MSN.co.nz saying you’re never too old to go backpacking. She’s 41. The people in the above photo are closer to 71. That’s false advertising, MSN. Come on, now.

Wildman is honest: Having gone on her first backpacking trip at 27 (across some southern African countries) and her first solo trip (to Eastern Europe) at 30, she admits to often being the oldest person in the dorm room.

“For me, age always has been, and hopefully always will be, a number,” she writes. “It’s more about how you live your life rather than how many candles are on your cake. At the same time, as the years have marched on I’ve noticed the gap between myself and younger travelers at hostels is indeed widening.”

I disagree. You can be too old for backpacking. When you can’t carry your luggage on your back anymore* or you can’t stand “roughing it” in cheap, dirty accommodations, that’s when you’re too old to be backpacking.

In spite of her surname, Kim is no party animal. She proceeds to identify the following features of the young backpacker’s landscape:

And yet, Wildman is accepting of her counterparts, regardless of their age. “No matter whether my dorm mates belong to gen Y, gen X or the baby boomers, as long as they share my independent traveling spirit then, as far as I’m concerned, they can only make my hosteling experience richer.”

Her tolerance should be commended.

*About luggage: “I’ve already traded in my traditional rucksack for a far more practical and convenient (and might I add less backbreaking) trolley backpack,” Wildman writes.

I stand corrected.

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2 Responses to “Backpacking in the News”

  1. Joe says:

    I have seen a man 71 years old on top of a mountain in Flagstaff, AZ. He had a wrap around one of his knees but my knees were hurting also. I was probably in my 40s at the time. If you backpack a lot and stay if great shape, you can backpack for as long as you like. I don’t know too much about Hostels since I have stayed more in motels. But even they have good ones and bad ones. Joe from Backpack and Gear

    http://www.backpack-and-gear.com

  2. John says:

    Haha. Indeed. A trolley backpack is no BACKpack is it? The roughness of travel is supposed to chip away at all your bullshit that you’ve gained by standing still over the years. 18 year olds who are travelling with comfort, staying in motels or have their rolling luggage aren’t backpacking. That’s not to say that what you take and where you stay defines you and your trip; but that the lack of roughness, willingness to be a skank and a hobo and a need to leave behind all your comforts and routines means the difference between travelling and being on holiday.
    As in ‘The Sheltering Sky’: ‘Tourists plan on going home, travellers don’t.’ – thus if you are already trotting around a country with the same nice bits and pieces feom home… What are you doing?
    I have seen old hippies in their 60s go backpacking. And they are not too old for it. Without sounding cheesy and predictible, it is what is in your heart. On the folks above- it clearly isn’t.

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