We’ve all seen them, whether hanging up in some trendy café on the corner of Haight and Ashbury street or thumb tacked into the wall of some burnout’s basement apartment. I’m talking about the Forever 27 poster. The poster donning the famous faces of Janis Joplin, Kirt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix against the backdrop of some trippy design with an ominous “27” looming in the middle, indicating the age at which they all died. (I’m sure there’s an updated version somewhere including Amy Winehouse.)
While these musicians may have taken the saying “either shit or get off the pot” a little too seriously, 27 does seem to be the pivotal moment for getting your life together…or not getting your life together. This phenomenon is most prevalent in the community of travel writers.
- Nomadic Matt – famous travel blogger who pioneered the notion of a digital nomad. He travels the world and supports himself by blogging about his experiences. He has also written several New York Times best sellers. In 7 years he’s traveled to more than 70 countries. He is my hero. nomadicmatt.com
- The Lost Girls – Jen, Holly and Amanda were 3 friends from NYC who purposely committed career suicide by quitting their jobs and bought Round the World Tickets to travel the world for one whole year. They wrote a successful memoir about their experiences and now run an ongoing blog & travel website to share their experiences with other aspiring vagabonds. lostgirlsworld.com
- Maarten Troost – Famous Dutch-American travel writer who became known for his first book The Sex Lives of Cannibals, his hilarious re-telling of the two years he and his girlfriend spent living on the Tarawa atoll in the Pacific island nation of Kirbati
- Adrian Ann – Travel blogger and personal friend, who quit her job at the age of 27 to live the life of a permanent traveler. adrianstraveltales.com
These are just a few examples of the 27 Club: Traveler’s Edition. All of these individuals made drastic life changes in order to pursue their dreams of travel, all at the age of 27 (or just a year or two shy). So what’s up with 27? What is it about this age that brings about such drastic measures? Having recently turned 27 myself, I have two theories.
- The close proximity to 30 freaks people out. The day you turn 27 becomes the day you officially enter your late 20’s. Long gone are the days of the colossal mistakes that are known as your early 20’s (binge drinking, staying out all night, dating people who are so obviously wrong for you and popping Plan B like it’s candy). And now you no longer comfortably fit into the awkwardness of the mid-twenties where you’re “figuring it out.” At 27, growing up seems like the only viable option.
- Maybe the answer is in the stars (in this case I’m talking about Astrology and not dead celebrities). There’s a theory called the Return of the Saturn, this occurs about every 29.5 years when the planet Saturn returns to the same location in the sky it was at the time of your birth. The effects are said to start in your late 20’s, notably at age 27, with the impact continuing to be felt into the early 30’s. This time brings about great change and has a significant impact on childhood dreams. As about.com explains,
“The Saturn Return brings with it the pressure of time, and often the first awareness of your own mortality. You take stock of what it would take to achieve those big dreams and often a sense of dread at ever getting there. But happily, it’s a time when things like discipline, focus and clear sight come into give you a kind of pragmatic hope. You’ll figure out what’s still possible and make changes necessary to get on track. It’s a crossroads period, when life-altering decisions are made. For example, at age 30 Vincent Van Gogh became a painter instead of a minister.”
So whether the reason is metaphysical or psychological, 27 is the age you should start getting your life together, in whatever way that means to you. Unfortunately, our society has made the concepts of growing up and settling down synonymous, a false truth that is widely accepted. We are told that growing up means tying yourself to a fixed location and putting down roots. This is only reinforced by the fact that on the day you turn 27, your Facebook feed becomes filled with newlyweds posting pics of their first homes and sonograms, proof of people digging in their roots a little deeper. If getting a mortgage and punching out babies is your forte, by all means, have at it. But if it’s not, please don’t fool yourself and become one of those 27 year olds who pushes their dreams aside only to attempt to drown them out each night at their favorite happy hour spot. Instead, let’s be like Van Gogh.
So here I am at age 27, desperately pleading for initiation into the traveler’s 27 club like an over eager wannabe sorority girl during rush week. Starting a travel blog has always been on my to-do list ever since I took my first trip abroad over 10 years ago but for one reason or another, just never quite got around to it. And while extenuating circumstances are causing me to be in a fixed location for another year (more on that later) this blog will serve as my outlet. A place where I can re-live my travel stories and write about travel related topics to help me stay focused and on track with my dream of becoming a travel writer. (It’s cheaper than therapy).