Why midlife travel is the best of my life

I am 54, in the process of empty nesting, and in my fourth decade of working professionally. Forbes describes women like me as super consumers – with over $15 trillion (in the US alone) in purchasing power, I am one of the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generations in history. I am cashed up and ready to spend – on me.

Being 50 today is very different from when my mum was 50 and worlds away from when my grandmothers were. I am not old. I am fit, youthful, energetic, confident, comfortable in my skin, thriving professionally, tenacious, full of life and champing at the bit to live my life in a big and beautiful and spectacular way. And I will never, ever be this young again.

And so, I am living my best ‘midlife’ as designed in my Life List. Travel is big on my Life List and I am not alone – the share of travellers over the age of 60 has more than doubled since 2020, with midlife travellers accounting for the largest travel demographic yet.

Midlife travel, it turns out, just happens to be the best travel of my life. Here’s why:

1. Travelling without regret

Three years ago when my ex-husband passed away from pancreatic cancer at just 54, I threw away all thoughts of putting my life on hold until ‘later’. I threw away the idea of having a bucket list where I asked myself the question – ‘What do I want to do before I die?’, and I created a new concept of a Life List and started asking myself the question – ‘What do I want to do while I am still young enough to enjoy it?’ 

Life is too short and I want to live it big. I am not prepared to put anything off until later – because later might be too late. 

For the past 25 years of my life I have rarely prioritised myself – the order of my priorities has generally been my kids, my partner, my job, my parents and sisters, my friends, and me. I have given and given, and given some more. I don’t expect a prize for selflessness. On the contrary, it makes me very much the same as literally every other woman I know. 

I have a long list of countries I want to travel to, places I want to stay, food I want to eat, hikes I want to trek and experiences I want to enjoy. Today.

It’s finally my turn, and I am not going to leave anything on the table.  

2. Travelling without kids

I absolutely love my kids – of course I do. But I cannot express how absolutely wonderful it is to travel without them.

When you travel with small kids they constantly fight. They whine. They require constant entertainment. They get sick and can’t sleep without 20 of their favourite teddies; they wander off and get lost in Italian art galleries; they only want to poo in the toilet at home; they insist on eating pasta with butter; they run out of energy very quickly; they cost a fortune because you have to buy separate plane seats for them for Godsakes and so on and so forth. 

When you travel with big kids they also constantly fight. They also whine. They go off drinking and surfing and fall on surf reefs and their cuts get infected; they want to ride motorbikes and they get picked up by the police; and they keep very different hours to you and so on and so forth. 

Well – that’s what my kids did when small and big on holidays …

Midlife travel without kids comes with a bloody blissful sense of ease, peace and quiet, headspace and lack of distraction or worry that is so amazingly relaxing and stress free and simple that I can not fully express how joyful it is to travel sans children. 

But I do love my kids – just in case they read this.

3. Travelling just for me

Midlife women are the powerhouse of the travel industry.  A survey of over 1000 female travellers, conducted by JourneyWoman in 2024, found that midlife women are driving growth in women’s tours with over 77 per cent of all bookings in 2022 from female solo travellers age 55+. 

The thing about being a woman who married at the tender age of 24, was married for 22 years, and was then single for six years before even contemplating putting herself ‘back out there’, is that I really, really like who I am. Having been half of a ‘couple’ since I was 23, I took the time to get to know myself after my marriage ended. I thought hard about what I wanted from my life and then set out to write my big, spectacular Life List of everything I want to do while I am still young enough to enjoy it – as an independent woman.

That Life List included falling in love again. My Life List included exactly the type of man I wanted to meet – a man who is driven, successful, independent and loves time to himself. These qualities were important to me – because I also wanted a man who respected that I am driven, successful, independent and love time to myself.

And I met that man. 

We have built a relationship where we don’t live in each other’s pockets. Where we love our time together but we also love our time apart. 

For the first time ever, as a midlife woman, I have designed a committed relationship where I don’t actually have to answer to my partner. For the first time since I travelled in my early 20s, I can completely focus on what I want to do – when and where and why. Sometimes that means travel with my partner (we have just enjoyed four weeks in Italy together), sometimes it means travel on my own (last year I spent seven weeks in Bali living and working on my own), sometimes it means travelling with my kids (… umm – see point 1 above), and sometimes it means travelling with my friends. 

The thing is – I finally have choice. 

4. Travelling with cash 

My first solo overseas trip was as a 21 year old armed with a book called Europe on $50 a day. Each morning I would stuff my pockets with bread rolls at the youth hostel to get me through the day, so that I could spend my allocated $50 a day on travel, accommodation, art galleries and dinner. Later, travelling with three children came with its own budgeting challenges. 

I have worked since I was 15 years old. I started full-time work when I was 22. That means I have been working for 40 years. Year after year I have honed my skills, I have climbed the ladder, I have scaled the heights, I have acquired skills, a large network, a reputation and solid street cred. I have worked my arse off, and I now get to enjoy the fruits of my labour. As a midlife woman who has been careful and frugal, and has always and will forever more buy my undies at K-mart, I find myself in a place where I have some cash. And I want to spend it. 

Again, I am not alone, the survey conducted by JourneyWoman in 2024 found that 75 per cent of the 1000 women surveyed take two or more trips per year and 51 per cent spend more than $3000 a week on travel. 

Last month, I travelled to Italy for a month and I took the plunge to splurge on Business Class plane tickets. Why? Well, why not?

5. Travelling slow

As a midlife woman who runs my own business, I have an enormous amount of flexibility these days. I am no longer constrained by four weeks of paid annual leave a year. I am no longer pigeonholed into travelling fast during the two or four weeks offered during school holidays. 

I have time, and I am not in a hurry. 

I want to travel slow. I want to have an afternoon nap every day rather than feeling the compulsion to walk every inch of eight new cities in eight days. I want to slow down. I want to do less but with more depth. Last year, I spent seven weeks in Bali, five weeks of which were spent in an apartment in Ubud where, along with my motorbike, I slowly got to know this beautiful town, went to yoga most days, met people and had real conversations about their lives, visited my favourite places again and again without fear that I was running out of time, and slowed down enough that I fell asleep during sound healing. 

Slow travel is a pleasure that I am embracing.

Do you like travelling more in your mature years? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Feeling spooky? Discover five of Australia’s most haunted spots

Kate Christie
Kate Christie
Bestselling author of five books, time management and goal setting, international speaker, media commentator, corporate advisor and coach.
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