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6 Ways Getting Older Has Changed How I Travel

June 19, 2014|Posted in: Travel Stories

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Disclaimer: I am by no means ancient. But, I have noticed that being north of 29 has changed how I travel.

1) I prefer planned adventures. When I was younger, my travel adventures would come most often as a result of mishaps. Being stranded in the middle of Spain without cash or sleeping in a cockroach-invested room in Paris are two examples of my youthful adventures. Now, trekking over a 15,000-foot mountain with llamas on the way to Machu Picchu is a typical example of a planned adventure. They are both memorable. But, I tend to think the latter is memorable for the right reasons.

2) I hate to waste time floundering around. When I was younger, I didn’t have a problem with spending hours wandering the back alleys of a foreign city looking for the first available, reasonably clean hostel. Now, I want to know where I am going, why, and how to get there. It’s not that I am uncomfortable with serendipity. But rather that I want to wring enjoyment from every precious moment of the little vacation time I get.

3) I like to know why what I am seeing is significant and cool. When I was younger, I was content to check items off the list of sights to see in a dog-eared travel guide. Now, I want to learn the stories behind the sights I see – the trivia that explains what makes them special.

4) I am more culturally curious. When I was younger, I was thrilled to meet my fellow Americans when I traveled. We clung to each other like survivors cling to an overturned raft. It was a defense against the discomfort we felt at being foreigners in a foreign land. Now, I’d rather hang out with the locals. I am curious about our similarities and even more so about our differences.

5) I want to be comfortable. When I was younger, my comfort standards ran to basic accommodations. Now, I don’t need luxury hotels, but I do want to be prepared so that I can be comfortable. For example, I brought a hot water bottle with me when I hiked the Inca Trail so that I could crawl into a toasty warm sleeping bag at night.

6) I want to pay it foward. When I was younger, I remember sharing a bed with two friends when we went on vacation. It was uncomfortable, especially since we all had managed to get sunburned that day. But, it was all that we could afford. Now, I am thankfully in a better position financially and I want to help someone less fortunate. So, I look for ways to pay it forward by bringing much needed school supplies to a rural community school or handing out bread to hungry kids I meet when I am trekking.

How has getting older changed how you travel?


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