Up until my mid twenties I travelled lots, mostly on a shoestring, with no set agendas, no real plans, just a backpack (that weighed almost as much as me) and a love of adventure.
This attitude took me to many countries and I was able to meet loads of new interesting people. I was thrown into many challenging situations and often worked in locations that I would have never chosen otherwise. I feel that these challenges made me grow as a person and taught me invaluable life lessons.
I’ve worked on a remote hunting lodge in the north of Scotland with no electricity, in a bar in south London where sometimes the customers would wear no pants, as a private english teacher in Italy with an impossible demanding spoiled family, as a home care helper for old people, both sweet and horrible all over the UK.
I can remember travelling with my sister, placing a map in front of us, closing our eyes and randomly pointing to the location on the map as our next destination.
Nothing was planned. Nothing was organized. We just went.
Along the way I’ve been put handcuffed in the back of a paddy wagon in Marseille, been terrified of an 85 year old woman in England, lost all of my belongings between Spain and France (thus why I have almost no photos of my travels, all of these were taken after), seen countless men masturbating on street corners (no joke…what is that about Italy???), taken the wrong train/bus numerous times, ridden the bus in Rome wearing only men’s boxer shorts and a t- shirt without underwear ( this was after all our bags were stolen and we had hand washed our undies and they were still drying), learned how to cook on an Aga, driven on the wrong side of the road, and felt the sting of humiliation while working for the very wealthy.
It wasn’t all good. It wasn’t all bad. Mostly, though I lived life. Risks weren’t a problem. Every day was a new adventure. I lived with abandon, changing boyfriends, situations and jobs as my mood dictated.
I might also mention that it was through these travels that I met my husband some 24 years ago.
I just read about Vix’s trip to India where she managed to live on what is the equivalent to about $42 per day for herself and partner Jon.
Vix and I are the same age, but she is still able to travel like a 20 year old.
Me, somewhere along the way I decided that travelling with risk was no longer my thing. I’d become pampered and lazy, choosing instead all inclusive resorts, fancy hotels, guaranteed lodging, preplanned itineraries and organized transportation. Removing the risk inevitably removes some of the thrill and much of the opportunity for unforeseen pleasures or problems.
I can remember staying in countless hostels and very cheap rooms that were gross or downright disgusting but in the end there was almost always laughter and fabulous stories to tell, yet the older I get the more cautious I’ve become. I’m keenly aware that if I decided to take the path less travelled that I might get more than what I’d bargained for. Both in a positive and negative way.
I’m obsessed about not “wasting time” while travelling. The older I get the more I’m aware of what I consider to be wasting time. Must have something to do with the fact that I’m running out of it.
Instead of the journey to the destination being part of the travels, I’m focused strictly on arriving and doing what I’d planned.
I want to get there, with as little hassle as possible, get to my room, and then get on the beach or to the show, museum, tourist attraction efficiently. No time for serendipity to enter into the equation.
I can’t help but wonder, “Are my choices aging me?”
They say that one of the best things to avoid aging of the mind is to ensure you are constantly doing new things. The older we get, the harder those are to find. If you plan less, your life is open to more. More problems, more adventures, more unique unforeseen opportunities. However, sometimes if you plan less you can also end up doing…well…a whole lot less.
Reading about Vix’s travels made me nostalgic for my younger self. I so desperately want to not care about risks, but I find I am incapable of pushing that from my mind. I loved reading about it, vicariously living through Vix, but I can no longer envision myself doing it. Too much to think about. Too much to worry about. It seems exhausting.
I haven’t gotten to the point where I need to go back to the same vacation spot every year. I still like to visit new places, eat new food, experience new things, but all while I’m guaranteed my daily comforts. Change is good…but too much change? Not-so-much. I think that is a sign of age. I’m too settled in my ways.
How about you? Do you find as you age that you are risk adverse? Are you still able to find new experiences and situations to challenge your mind? Do you prefer comfort over adventure? Safety over excitement?
PS You might like to read about when I went overseas to Amsterdam to meet bloggers that I’d never met before…my (older self) version of taking travel risks.
Linking up with the lovely Judith for Hat Attack