Quitting your job and travelling the world is the new black. It’s more trendy than craft beer. As a Generation X-er, I don’t remember anybody doing this when I was in my twenties. If people travelled at all, they backpacked around Europe the summer after college. I didn’t even know many people who had travelled outside of Europe. Things have certainly changed.
The reasons why travel is more common now is an entire post itself, so I won’t delve into that. My interest is the age thing. My Facebook feed is bursting with articles about millennials who have been to every country by the age of 25 or college students who somehow manage to visit twenty countries every year or “20 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young” or “Why You Should Visit Country X in Your Twenties”.
Why can’t I go to country X in my 40’s? Why isn’t anyone writing about reasons to travel for any other age group?
Please don’t assume I’m a hater. I say good for them. I recognize that the job market is a different animal now and that not everybody follows the cookie cutter undergrad-grad school-professional path that I did. There is a whole industry surrounding social media; One that has created digital nomads and opened doors for a whole different lifestyle that wasn’t even thought possible twenty years ago when I was just using the internet for the first time. (gasp!)
I sometimes wish I had done the “traveling-around-the-world-in-my-twenties” thing. There was always school, or getting that second master’s degree or busy paying off student loans, or working overtime so I could pay loans. I had my crazy moments. Taking two weeks off grad school to do an African safari was not exactly normal. I had no money, just good credit. Every break that I had, I went somewhere. I sort of knew then, what I definitely know now:
Time is a luxury and it is unpredictable. You never know when you suddenly won’t have time.
I’m not trying to sound morbid, but as a nurse, I see things. People assume they can wait until retirement or after their kids go to college or for some pre-determined time frame that seems convenient, but things don’t always go as planned.
I’ve worked full-time while travelling for many years now. It’s been great and I don’t want to sound ungrateful. My school and work life has led to me having a good salary and good vacation time, both which enabled my wanderlust. I’m extremely lucky. I’m not as opposed to this “lucky” word as many of my travel blogging colleagues. Yes, I worked extremely hard. You think becoming a nurse practitioner, then a nurse anesthetist is easy? Luck refers to where I was born, to the family I was born into, and the opportunities that came my way. Life is a combination of luck and hard work.
The time thing has really been on my mind lately, especially with all the uncertainty in the world. I truly want to see everything…to visit every country, and not in some crazy checking-off-a-list manner. At age 42, I need to get moving. I’ve only been to fifty countries so far while cute blogger girl in her twenties has already been to 80 for God’s sake! I’m way behind!
After my divorce at age 37, I decided that I would travel more. The only problem was a few life complications that made taking three months to backpack around the Stan countries a bit challenging. You know, those things like a mortgage, student loan payments, and pets. I eventually adjusted my life to travel more and was successful. I did a long weekend in Paris for my 40th birthday and then went to Hong Kong for 5 days, working the days immediately before and after, because who needs to sleep? This past year I hiked Trolltunga, hiked the Inca Trail, and then Rainbow Mountain, while recovering from food poisoning. I met a 63-year-old woman who was also hiking the Inca Trail and actually kicking my ass.
Being older doesn’t mean we can’t have epic adventures.
Now I want to take things to the next level. After finding out my car lease and apartment lease are both completed on same date, I viewed that as a sign that I should take the plunge. My wonderful parents have agreed to take care of their grandchild (my dog) and let me move some boxes into their garage. I sold my furniture, paid off my debt, and purchased a first class ticket to Singapore using miles that I’ve hoarded. I plan to visit Southeast Asia for three months, then do agency nursing for a month to replenish funds, then off for the next few months to wherever I decide.
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I am ready to live the twenty-something dream I never lived, but now I’m doing it with wisdom, experience, and best of all…money. I won’t be budget travelling or sleeping where I may acquire bed bugs or be sold into slavery (although I like to think at my age, I’m not the demographic sex traffickers are looking for). Having a career for over 15 years means that I’ve been able to save and now I can indulge a little. Finally…the silver lining to being older!!
I am ecstatic about my sabbatical from life and I’m curious about how many people of my generation I will meet doing the same. So listen out there! Millennials, keep doing your thing. You’re killing it and giving other generations inspiration. Boomers, if you’re retired and healthy, travel and own it. Gen X’ers…we are the forgotten middle child. Not in our carefree twenties, yet nowhere close to retirement. That doesn’t mean we can’t live the dream too. It just takes some creativity. For those who can’t simply take off, I have spent my whole life working full-time and travelling so check out the rest of my blog to see what is possible!
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