Getting Older Changed My Travel Perspective
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Getting Older Changed My Travel Perspective

Traveling is interesting, exciting, eye-opening, entertaining, enriching  and lots more. To me, however, travel is also an experience that enables me to uncover and realize important things about myself.

Yes, I’m getting older, and I started realizing that the time ahead of me is shorter than the one behind me. How could this possibly not alter my travel perspective?

Edinburgh-Clock1After almost 20 years in the corporate world, I quit my job over 3 years ago, starting to travel extensively and making a long-lived dream become true. My life suddenly changed. I eventually had the time to travel more often and for longer periods, but I was also 20 years older.

It must have been  a latent thought, which I became fully aware of during my Southeast Asia trip last year.

Getting older changed my travel perspective. And a few things which once were of minor importance have become a priority.

Travel has become a matter of experiencing and feeling emotions, more than seeing places and doing things

Easily one of the major shifts in my travel perspective, the focus on the experience is prevailing more and more. What do I mean by that?

Actually, it’s something strongly related to time. In the past, I used to assume that traveling was about seeing places, as many as possible in the short time I could  be on a trip. Now, I don’t really care about how many places I see, or activities I do. I want to feel a place and to be able to experience I need time.

In the past, when visiting a city I would rush to the main Museums, seeing as many landmarks as possible and end up my day exhausted but happy. In the last years, weather permitting, I spent most of the time randomly walking in the streets, savoring street art, strolling along the tiny cobblestone streets in Barcelona Gothic Quarter and stopping to listen to open-air musicians,  enjoying a promenade among the ruins in beautiful Rome or a gentle ride by bike.

 

There’s nothing to prove

Burma, Lonely Boat Inle LakeMy recent trip to New Zealand was enlightening. Most of the travelers I met on the road – very nice people, by the way – were 20-something or 30-something. They are keen to travel and discover the world, and they are also at one stage of their life (at least, I guess) when they need to prove something to themselves and to the important persons in their environment.

When we arrived in National Park, where travelers stop for the world-famous Tongariro Crossing hike, the weather was just horrible. Low clouds, fog, and rain. Notwithstanding, most of the young people traveling on the Stray Bus with me went for the hike. When they asked me why I was not going, I simply said that I couldn’t see the thrill of hiking in fog, when there was no landscape to look at and I could have been anywhere in the world. And when I asked them why they were going all the same, often they told me “I want to go back and tell my friends that I hiked the Tongariro crossing”.

Fair enough (apart from the fact that half of the trail was still closed because of the volcanoes activity, so in the best case they can just tell that they hiked half of the Tongariro cross in…).

Maybe if I had been their age I would have done the same. Now that I’m rapidly approaching my 50s, I couldn’t see the point. I feel beyond proving things to the world (and in many cases also to myself). I would have loved to see the landscape along the Tongariro crossing and it was not possible due to the bad weather. A pity. But I’ve seen many other wonderful places and, hopefully, I’ll be able to enjoy a few more.

Taking my time, to travel and to rest

Hammocks.jpgAs long as I had a corporate job, I could only travel for short periods and thus every time was like a race against time, trying to see as much as possible in just  a few days.

Throughout the last years, this has radically changed. I’m increasingly taking my time, and not only because I can now have longer journeys. I’m getting physically tired easier and quicker than I used to be. I like (and need)  to take my time, not only to visit but also to rest. I tend to avoid being overloaded by activities and inputs, knowing that after a break I can enjoy even more everything surrounding me. I like taking my time and following my pace, whether it is to look at a mind-blowing scenery, admiring an exquisite architectural detail or enjoying a street performance.

The awareness that I won’t live enough, and the need to carefully choose.

The world is so big and there are so many wonderful places to experience, whether it is about wilderness, culture, wildlife, people, art or stunning landscapes. And… The older I get, the longer my travel wish list becomes. I dream of Antarctica, the Northern Lights, the Galápagos, Madagascar and Mali. I wish I could scuba dive the most beautiful places in the world. I would like to see the most beautiful and remote places in the world. And I wish I would experience all of my country, Italy.

The truth is that as year after year life goes by quickly, I don’t know how much time and health is left and I know, for sure, that I won’t live enough to experience all the beauty of our planet. That’s why I felt uncomfortable in Southeast Asia, wondering “What am I doing here?“. It had nothing to do with the place and it had everything to do with me. As every year there’s less time left, I have become increasingly aware that I have to understand what I really want to experience, and carefully chose my destinations, listening to my internal voice.

Nature and silence have become more and more important

Quitting my job implied a significant downsizing in my day-to-day life and the need to be much more cost-conscious when traveling. This never really bothered me and in the last couple of years, I spent a lot of time in hostels and traveled by public transportation or backpackers buses.

I realized, however, that  I enjoy silence, furthermore… I need silence.

I reckon that’s the main reason I prefer nature to many cities, why I feel deeply uncomfortable in the large Asian megalopolis and instead love being in secluded, wild places, why I feel so happy when I happen to have the dorm all by myself.

It’s probably in my increasing need for silence that I understood how getting older changed my travel perspective.  Many younger people talk unrelentingly, like loud music as a constant background and love  crowded places and partying. There’s nothing wrong with that, I used to be the same. It’s just that I changed, and so did my priorities.

Yes, I am still wild about travel and hopefully will always be. Still, getting older changed my travel perspective and I’m glad about that. Because being aware of myself is what enables me to feel strong emotions and still have amazing travel experiences.

Did your perspective on travel change over the recent years? And how? I’d love to read about your experiences.

 

More reading: The Story Behind my Journeys (or… Why I am Wild About Travel) 

 

Travel addict and passionate about photography, Simon Falvo started Wild About Travel back in 2009. Leveraging her strong PR background, she developed an extensive knowledge of Digital Communications and Social Media Marketing. Besides travel writing SImon holds workshops and trainings, she collaborated with tourism boards for digital marketing campaigns and participated as a speaker at several events.
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18 Comments
  • Life and Death in Shanghai: China under Mao's Cultural Revolution
    Posted at 15:03h, 28 December Reply

    […] As I got older my perspective on travel changed, and so did my priorities in terms of destinations. I know it is unfair, but the truth is that for a long time China engendered in me mixed feelings of attraction and distate. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel intrigued by one of the five largest countries in the world, if only from a historical point of view. […]

  • Sandy
    Posted at 18:53h, 02 December Reply

    Thank you for the lovely post. I also had the same experience as I got older. Just before turning 50 I took a Dr. recommended trip to Ireland and realized how much I had been missing. It’s impossible to feel the true essence of a place when I rush or try to do too much. Now I appreciate the slow, peaceful journey and my mantra is to see less and savor more as I wander through this world. I could feel that this was personal for you and that made it even more wonderful to read. I felt like I was sitting with you at a small café somewhere in the world just sharing our stories. Happy travels to you!

  • Margie Miklas
    Posted at 00:38h, 21 November Reply

    Great post, Simon. I especially liked that you talked about experiencing emotions and having a feel of the place and the people, rather than just visiting places on an agenda. Beautiful

  • Amanda Halm
    Posted at 23:40h, 01 April Reply

    I never traveled to party (except when I was … maybe 19?), but I definitely appreciate it more and more as I get older. It’s less and less about impressing my friends more and more about what I want to see. It’s also about people I would never meet otherwise. I’m 32 and travel made me realize how little I’ve seen.

  • ardun
    Posted at 10:23h, 09 March Reply

    Hi Simon, what a great post! It is interesting to hear how your perspective has changed. My wife and I are 30 and have so much ahead of us we want to see, but even in the last few years I have noticed our own style of travel steer away from partying and focus more on the places we really want to see. We just want to see and experience it all, for us and not bragging rights.

  • Emiel
    Posted at 20:47h, 03 March Reply

    Great post and describing for some part how I (and my wife) feel as well about travel. I wrote a lot about this subject on my blog. Call it slow travel or being a travel flaneur rather than ticking off the bucket list: it’s all about creating a new travel perspective.
    We have been to Thailand and will go to Cambodia this summer. But without itinerary, just travel slowly. We’d rather skip a few destinations in order to spend more time in once place – I love to just stroll through the streets like you described, sit on a bench and watch the local life. I once called it Serendipity Travel: just go out, walk and let serendipity guide you.
    Love this post!
    Emiel

  • Stéfan
    Posted at 18:36h, 27 February Reply

    I love this post Simon. I relate to it very much. Wonderful post.

    • Simon
      Posted at 19:09h, 27 February Reply

      Thank you, Stéfan. It’s likely my most personal writing so far, and something I felt like expressing for a long time.

  • Mike (Nomadic Texan)
    Posted at 14:52h, 27 February Reply

    Walking about in foreign lands has always been a favorite past time for me. It’s a way to connect to the locals and get a feel of the city or country” like you state. Not to mention sample street or small cafe food. Lets not get started on the age thing though! Ha!

    • Simon
      Posted at 19:07h, 27 February Reply

      LOL! After er… shall I say 40? … Age becomes an abstraction 🙂 Nice to read that like me you enjoy walking and immersing yourself in the local culture, Mike.

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 14:11h, 27 February Reply

    Very good post! I think selecting the destinations of what you really want to see is important. I am definitely finding that I don’t want to go just to go. I want to experience things. I can’t wait for the day that we can leave our own jobs and spend longer in places.

    • Simon
      Posted at 19:05h, 27 February Reply

      ‘Going just to go’… And still, so many people are doing just so, Jennifer. For some, passport stamps are like trophies to exhibit to family and friends. Other people seem to lack of curiosity and travel always to the same place. In the end, travel can have so many different meanings.

  • [email protected]
    Posted at 09:19h, 27 February Reply

    A beautiful post Simon in which you have expressed my thoughts far more eloquently than I could. For a while now I have become conscious of the fact that that there is so much travelling I still want to do and so little time to do it! I do not feel old but the number attached to my birthday increasingly says otherwise. A sense of urgency prevails but I agree, with that urgency comes a new outlook. The luxury of time is a gift that cannot be squandered!

    • Simon
      Posted at 19:01h, 27 February Reply

      Like you, Jenny, I do not feel old but no matter, every year the number is getting bigger 🙂
      Time is definitely the ultimate luxury. It took me years to understand that, since I was completely swallowed by long hours at work, and little free time packed with activities. I’m glad this is over now, and I hope I’ll never have to go back.

  • Linda
    Posted at 09:05h, 27 February Reply

    I had to think long about this, partly because I’m a fair bit older than you are, and I always smile when someone your age talks about getting older! But that’s, perhaps, a whole other story!

    To be honest, I’ve always wanted to travel the way you talk about, but did have a partner for a long time who was the “ticking-off-the-list” type, and I realize that I rarely enjoyed traveling with him, but that was how we traveled. Since I’ve been free to do my own thing I’ve slowed right down. If I only have a short time somewhere then I focus on one aspect, like when I had a week in Barcelona and concentrated purely on Gaudi (still didn’t see it all because there is so much!). I know what you’re saying is because we get older we may never get back to see the rest, but so be it. To really get a flavor of a place is so much more enjoyable, so pleasureable, and I think the pleasure of travel is often not talked about in travel blogging circles.

    It seems to me that for some the necessity to make a living overrides the pleasure, and there is only talk of broken links and what will Google do next. I couldn’t agree with you more about slowing down and absorbing your surroundings. A half decent writer can find something to write about, even if it’s the rain and fog!

    The silence thing was what resonated with me most. I 1,000% agree with that! My style of travel has become more budget than comfort over the years too, and that is what I miss most. I like to meet people, but I like the OPTION to be quiet when I feel like it!

    The important thing, I think, is to always question what we do, be it travel or anything else in life, so that we don’t get into a rut.

    • Simon
      Posted at 18:56h, 27 February Reply

      You raise a lot if very interesting points, Linda, which gave me inspiration for future articles. A partner not sharing the same view on travel is for sure an issue, and that’s why I learned to enjoy solo travel. Of course, the optimum would be have someone sharing the same passion and similar feelings on what travel means and how it should be experienced, but if this doesn’t happen, better being alone 🙂

      True, we may never go back to a place, and this is something I got into terms with. I realize that I prefer a few unforgettable moments rather than a confusing carousel of images.

      It looks like you feel like me regarding traveling as a full time job. Again, nothing wrong with it. It’s just not me. Like you, I believe that a lot of things and places close-by can make for wonderful stories. It’s a matter of being able to see the things that are just besides us, and I confess that many times I failed, but I’m trying to improve.

      Glad as well that you share my love for silence 🙂

  • Nicole @ Suitcase Stories
    Posted at 00:39h, 27 February Reply

    I really related to this post. Im 38 years old and I no longer travel the way I used to when I was in my 20’s.

    My husband and I left our careers and sold our possessions for a life of travel. But we are in no rush! We travel slow to savor each place that we visit. Its not a contest to see how many countries we can get to!

    We house sit while we travel which is the perfect way to travel slow and immerse ourselves into the culture. I have no interest in running from country to country so I can get more stamps in my passport. To me, thats not travel.

    I too love nothing more than strolling for hours through a city to get a real feel for it.

    Thanks for posting this. Im glad I am not the only who is more interested in getting to know a city rather than counting the stamps on my passport.

    • Simon
      Posted at 18:43h, 27 February Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nicole. It’s definitely good to see that other people share similar feelings on travel, although of course there’s nothing wrong in rushing, if that’s what one person wishes.

      I admire the people who, like you, sold everything for a life of travel. This is something I am unable to do, it’s just not me. For as much as I love traveling and discovering new places, I also need, from time to time, to go back home.

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