The Difference Ten Years Makes

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Ten years ago I heard my 30s would be so much better than my 20s. I was skeptical; how could older be better?

Yet lately I’ve been comparing this trip to one ten years ago when I moved to South East Asia. 

I knew that trip would define my life. It’s fitting that a decade later, on another life changing adventure,  I’ve started evaluating my past choices and wondering what my 23-year old self would think of me now:


Prior to leaving for the Philippines I had broken up with the (then) love of my life because I knew he would follow me anywhere in the world and I didn’t want someone who would simply follow me.

I wanted someone with their own dreams. I thought about him every day.

Ten years later I ended the most significant relationship since because he wouldn’t follow me even though I really wanted him to. I think about him every day.


Ten years ago I wasn’t sure if I wanted kids. I still have no idea.


Ten years ago I didn’t think about food or photography. Today they monopolize my thoughts.


I moved to the Philippines after university for an international internship. I hadn’t had a real job yet but had dreams of returning to Canada and making it big.

I was ready with a boat load of drive and a closet full of second-hand suits waiting for me in Canada so I could make my great debut in the business world.

Ten years later my younger self would be impressed with what I have achieved. Once I ‘made it’ I started to wonder if I got caught up in the ambition and forgot what I realiy wanted.

Now I just want to work somewhere with nice people and earn a pay cheque that pays for my lifestyle.



I had no fear when I was younger. I jumped right into things. I’m not sure if I was brave or just naive. Now I imagine all the ways I could injure myself.

Only 4 years ago I went to New Zealand and bungee jumped along with many other crazy things but somehow the last 48 months have left me fearful of things. 

In Mexico I was petrified riding on a horse, positive that I was about to fall off, until someone reminded me I was supposed to be enjoying it. On this trip I’m trying to regain some of that, letting go of my fear and embracing the unknown.


I didn’t plan. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn’t. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t have a guidebook as the Internet existed but certainly didn’t have the proliferation of information that it does now about travel.

I lived with another Canadian, Samantha, and we just jumped on buses and found accommodation when we arrived. I didn’t have anxiety about how to get there, or where I would stay.

It wasn’t all rainbows and roses. I remember once going to the “Traveler’s Hotel” and the guy at reception told me I didn’t want a room even though I insisted on looking at one.

That’s because I didn’t notice the room full of girls with vacant eyes swaying to soft rock music. When the nice man took me down the amber-lit hallway to a room with a dirty mattress on the floor I realized it was a ‘by the hour’ kind of hotel. At least he was kind enough to warn me.

But those are the badges of traveling and I earned many of them. I loved meeting other foreigners and hung out with the handful that lived in Cebu, I didn’t extend myself enough to locals; I didn’t know the value.

Now older, a bit wiser, I’ve learned my lesson and am taking Spanish lessons. Living with a family in Leon has changed me. Their kindness has been overwhelming.

Nicaraguan Food

I would have never known that Nicaraguans don’t eat dessert after dinner or how to cook fried beans. My Spanish teacher, Karin, taught me so much more than the language, she helped me understand what it was to be a Nicaraguan, explaining the struggle that I don’t see, answering questions that don’t have easy answers.

The changes have been gradual but profound, I’m the same person but much better and much of it due to traveling.  I don’t know who I’d be if I hadn’t experienced all of this.

Join the Conversation

  1. You amaze me. I really appreciate your honesty and reflection. It’s quite moving actually. Your experiences are truly opening your soul to who you are and I am excited for the journey that awaits you. All my love.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Dawn, while I was writing this I looked back at old photos and I cannot believe how different we are and yet the same.

      Mom, as long as you are laughing more than you are crying we’re are in a good place.

  2. ann wellwood says:

    Love your comparisons of 10 years ago and now!!!Keep these stories coming!!!

  3. You make me cry…you make me laugh…you make me wonder about the little girl with the Pippy Longstocking hair…and who she is today.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Your Message
    Brogs, this is awesome! When do you find the time? It sounds like an incredible trip – the experience of a lifetime. Keep writing, I will live vicariously through you. I’m hoping for a big slide show when you return.

  5. Christine says:

    That was your best entry yet even though it made me a little sad and hurt my heart.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh no don’t have a hurt heart this isn’t a sad post at all. Just an honest one.

  6. This got me thinking quite a lot. I can look back just two years and see such a difference in what I’m doing today than what I did two years ago. Here’s to 10 more years of travel and many more years after. Safe travels.

  7. Reading this really made me think and look back at my life over the past decade, especially since I just turned 30 two weeks ago. It’s interesting how our perspectives and priorities change. Great post!

  8. Samantha King says:

    Oh that was so beautifully put, thanks for sharing. I loved the “freedom” of spirit we had 10 years ago in the Phils. I think we just didn’t know any better. Knowing what I know now, I would have a lot more fear issues too (but I suppose that ruins the fun). But it all worked out just fine, with many great memories! And I am happy you’ve grown so much and have continue to let life and your travels shape you 🙂 But, I must say, you were still pretty obsessed with food 10 years ago (including the lack there of in the Phils). I will never forget you trying the long winding “meat on a stick” from the road-side vendor, then figuring out what it was. lol. How didn’t we get sick eating there!

  9. I love this. It makes me wonder how I’ll change in the next 10 years. I too went on my first big solo adventure when I was 23 and am always reflecting. It has only been 6 months since my return home and I have big plans for traveling more. I’m excited to see how my styles, passions, and priorities will change over time. Thanks for this!

  10. I really wonder what I will be like in 10 years. I am turning 28 this year and I know I am EXTREMELY different than when I was 18. I thought I would go to school, get a film job, live the dream. Little did I know that 9/11 would happen 3 months after graduation, the economy would tank, and after all the grief lead me to where I am today – a traveler.

    Thank you for this amazing post. I always love to read reflections.

  11. Great honest post. I think I’m much different person than 10 years ago. I was much more serious and studious person back then, now I know how to enjoy life and follow my dream. But some still the same. When I was 20, “having kid” is for the future, bow I’m nearly 30, it is still “for the future”.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m totally there with you, I’m always thinking how long can I wait before I have to make a decision about kids.

  12. Ryan Aldred says:

    Great article… sounds like it’s been a hell of a decade and that you’re still fighting the good fight. Can’t do much better than that.

  13. Ten years is a long time. However I think it is what you do in those 10 years that really changes you. I think alot of people keep on doing the same old comfortable thing day in and day out. Sure, they get older. But 10 years of travel and adventure makes you a different person.
    Just my .02….
    Keep on exploring, there´s alot left to see.

  14. What an awesome post!!! Don’t you wish your 20 year old self could have met your 30 year old self for about 5 minutes? Looks like life has taken you down a beautiful path and I can’t wait to see what your 40 year old self will say!!!

  15. Monsieur Tofu says:

    This has been by far your best post (in my opinion). I didn’t know you when you were 23 but I’ve seen these changes happening in you even in the five years that I’ve known you. You’ve been a huge influence and inspiration in my life and I thank you for that. You’re the bravest person that I’ve ever met and I can see that this trip has been an amazing experience for you so far, an adventure that most never find the guts to even consider trying.

    Love always,


    pS> You’d think with all of this wisdom you’ve gained you would’ve ditched that Mr. Bacon fellow by now.

  16. great post…

  17. ann wellwood says:

    I have seen a little piece of you that I didn’t know before this trip!You are brave to open up to everyone about your feelings!We should all be more open with what is going on inside of us!Thank you for showing us the way!!

  18. Ayngelina! Your blog is so inspiring – and makes me wonder why i’m not doing the same! i’m glad you’re having a great time and really reflecting on your past and your life, that’s amazing. keep enjoyinggg 🙂

  19. Brilliance….

  20. Christine says:

    You make me feel so young and inexperienced–I just hope that I’ll still be traveling with a spirit as open as yours when I hit my 30s! Great post, it really made me think/hope/dream about where I’ll be in 10 years 🙂

  21. Mikeachim says:

    You spent your ten years well. Better than most. And now you’re You. Which is great, because we like You. (See massive stream of comments above for evidence).

    Ten years ago, I’d shelved being a writer and completely given up being a travel-writer, in favour of a career in archaeology. Ten years later, I’m no archaeologist. Plan A was the right plan. And now I’m actually following it, I feel very stupid for wasting so much time. 🙂

    1. Valerie Hamer says:

      The right thing found you at the right time. That’s how I see things anyhow. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life so far, because it has brought me to the point where I am now.

  22. Honest and sincere article, and also very deep. Have fun 🙂

  23. Ok – I know I’m late posting anything on your wonderful stories, but you knew I’d have to write for this one! I think you are amazing – as you know – and as amazing people do you are getting better with every passing year and experience you have. My only comment is to say that when you have these moments of clarity you really need to write them down, because the clarity fades into uncertainty so quickly. I was so sure I didn’t want to get married (you looked so great in that bridesmaid dress…) I passionately knew I wanted to devote this decade to my career (now thinking about home schooling my TWO babies…) and was definitely not ready to come back to Canada (Truro is actually pretty good…I still gag a little when I say this though) And now I acknowledge that I generally have no idea what I’m doing at any time, but I have a lot more fun when I remember to experience what I am doing instead of just getting things done. You are doing a great job of experiencing this year, not just checking off countries on a list. Even though I rarely get a chance to comment, you know I partially live vicariously through you, and that I love ya.

  24. Wow… I think you were a much cooler 23 year old than I was! I often think about what I would tell a ten-year younger version of myself… and usually I think I would probably just want to punch her in the head!

  25. Great post! Thank you so much for leaving the link on my site. I hope people come and read this. I completely agree with you! All of these things are so true. Why is it that although life gets a little better in your 30’s (you know more of what you want, etc) it comes with so much more anxiety? I never had anxiety before in my life. Plus that frontal lobe is a serious bi*ch. You mention the horse story – I always rode horses as a kid – loved them! A week or so ago I went to ride a friend’s new horse and had an almost full blown panic attack. I couldn’t believe it! I love horses why was I so afraid all of the sudden? I did get on but was afraid to even trot so I just ended up riding in circles. You and I should meet somewhere and do something crazy like skydiving and tell that lobe where to go!

  26. Incredible how travelling can change and develop a person. Couldn’t agree more…

  27. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    These aspects are so true though. You don’t even realize how much you grow until you read something like this and relate to it. Thanks for pointing how the changes I didn’t realize I had made in my life and way of thinking!

  28. Craig Zabransky says:

    Great, great post. This made me think about what my 10 years ago self would think of me now… I tend to think he would consider my life a dream… and that just made me smile. Keep on traveling, writing, learning inspiring… and stay adventurous, Craig

  29. Love this post. So great to learn more about you and your travel history. Wishing you many more years of great adventures!

  30. Christy - Ordinary Traveler says:

    Awesome post, Ayngelina! I can completely relate to feeling like traveling in our 30’s can be much more meaningful than our twenties. When I was 25, I took a 2 month solo trip to “find myself.” What I actually found was a lot of drinking, and very little memory of 2 months that were supposed to be life changing.

    You made me laugh when you mention getting more fearful as you get older. That is something Scott and I talk about all the time. It’s tough, but I think we can move past that fear if we continue to challenge ourselves.

  31. Caz Makepeace says:

    Great post Ayngelina. I often think back to my 21 year old bungee jumping self and am Glad I did it then, because there is no way I would now. The fear gets even worse once you have children. I constantly see monsters everywhere now.
    Great insight into your journey. Thanks for sharing

  32. Jessalyn Pinneo says:

    Beautiful, thoughtful post, Ayngelina, thanks for sharing. I took my first trip abroad 10 years ago, at 15, and my outlook on travel has changed so much since then. I’ve come to appreciate the value of interacting with locals and really living somewhere else, rather than just passing through. I’m much more outgoing than I was, but still more shy than I would like. It will be interesting to look back in another 10 years and see what has continued to change and what, if anything, has stayed the same.

  33. LeslieTravel says:

    This is such a sincere, thoughtful post. Thanks for sharing! I can relate to many of your experiences. Traveling as a 20 year old and a 30 year old is very different. Maybe by the time I am 40 or 50 I’ll get the courage to bungy jump or sky dive… those activities still scare me!

  34. Isn’t it crazy how much of a difference 10 years makes? I loved reading this and getting to know you a bit better!

  35. Very inspiring especially since I am going through a lot of personal reflection. Thanks for sharing!

  36. Hi,
    came to know of your website just now thru an indian backpacker who i was checking whether he has met solo women backpackers.
    Travel is what i want to do and i wish i had the guts like you to leave everything and do what i want to do than what i shud do !
    I always admire bold, courageous women. Glad to have known about one more today.

  37. I love, love, love the honesty of this post. Especially the part about love and fear. You inspire…

    Write on.

  38. “Now I just want to work somewhere with nice people and earn a pay cheque that pays for my lifestyle.”

    That line really resonates with me. I got a nice office job after university because it seemed like the ‘successful’ thing to do…and I absolutely hated it! I quit within 3 months. I’m glad I realized early and was bold enough to do something about it. I’m slowly figuring out what I want but travel is definitely a part of my lifestyle 😀

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am still trying to figure out how to fit it all into one package, I am not there yet but I feel like I am getting closer.

  39. It’s amazing how similar our paths have been. I love hearing your story. It’s definitely the inspiration I need at the moment.
    Let me know if you figure out how to fit it all in one nice neat package. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      One nice neat package, wow if I can figure that out I’m going to bottle it up and sell it for millions!

  40. Ayngelina, I finally read this post at a time where I am redefining/ reinventing myself. I will use the idea as an “exercise”: it seems appropriate to look back and recognize how I have changed.
    Thanks for the inspiration

  41. We evolve as we age. If we don’t then we become stagnant like a yucky scummy pond. I will be fifty this summer. Seems like yesterday when I was a teenager kicking my heels and being a rebel. I love photography too. I do street photography. Sometimes I ask people if I can take their picture. Sometimes I just take their picture. It depends on the situation. I was attracted to your blog because I love, love, love bacon. It is nature’s most perfect food. If I were told I couldn’t have bacon anymore, I would reconsider life as an option. I find your blog enormously entertaining. I also like to write fiction, but I am terrible at it. All the best, Russell

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Russell the most entertaining comment today it made me smile, you are so modest.

      True, I would hate to be the person I was ten years ago. It would be so boring to be the same for so long.

  42. Katherine McKeon says:

    Although certain things have changed it seems your spirit of adventure is just as strong (if not stronger) now compared to ten years ago. Thanks for sharing your travels!

  43. Ian [EagerExistence] says:

    So you plan now (10 years ago you didn’t)?

    I’m getting close to 30, and I still hate the planning stage of travelling. I think I’ll always be a seat-of-the-pants traveller. Sure it means I go over budget by a few grand, but I just can’t plot out all the steps along the way… it bores me to tears.

    Countries is about as far as I get… and airports, or bus stations.

  44. Mary @ Fit and Fed says:

    I was going to say that all I wanted at that age (23) was adventure, that felt true, but I also married then. And I turned down a Peace Corps assignment to Africa to do so. I didn’t feel like I was losing my chance for adventure, my husband and I have had quite the adventure together, including raising kids. And we finally got to Africa together last year, about 25 years after I didn’t take that first chance to go.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Wow what an incredible story. I actually want to go back to the Philippines to see how I would feel about it now.

  45. So I’m a little late to the party here, but I just found your blog. I’m 33 and about to leave for my first long-term traveling adventure since I was 23. I relate a ton to this post – it was super inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for writing it!

  46. I just discovered your blog. Glad I found it… Better late than never right? Just read a couple of posts, will be hanging around. Currently on a break from corporate slavery and chronicling my travel adventures.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I started my break in 2010 and I still haven’t been able to go back!

  47. bridget@GreenGlobalTravel says:

    thanks for sharing! you have such an amazing story. I just got back from my first big trip and can’t wait to continue my travels!

  48. This is one kind of a ride you had/have 🙂
    Sometimes I just wish I could be like that, and just travel the world.

  49. Brad Bernard says:

    Great post, Ayngelina. I totally identify with this post. It is so interesting to see your growth and change through travel. Leon is a place that mesmerized me, sucked me in beyond its crumbling facade and faded signs and forced me to look introspectively at things.

  50. Phượt Hà Giang says:

    Hi Ayngelina!
    Your blog, your storys make me happy 🙂 Hope one day can meet you in Vietnam.

  51. Traveling with family is the best and most enjoyable

  52. Thuê xe máy đà nẵng gia huy says:

    Wow what an incredible story. I actually want to go back to the Philippines to see how I would feel about it now.

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