This week brought an extra thrill when I opened a copy of Woman Magazine, one of the UK’s leading weekly womens’ magazine and saw myself featured in an article called Generation Jetset! My mini-interview is part of a feature on three women who are proving that you can have fun and adventure in your 40s and 50s – it’s not something that’s the preserve of the 20-something backpacker. The magazine is in stores in the UK until Tuesday 27 February so don’t miss getting your copy!
The interview tells a bit of my story, how in my mid-40s I set off on 3 week trip through Ecuador with two friends, leaving my husband to manage the children so that I could rekindle my spirit of adventure. It was after that trip that my idea to start a blog grew, as a way to share my love of travel and inspire other women to go off and have their own adventures too. I never dreamed that 10 years on, this would be something I now do full time, earning my living through my blog and other travel related projects.
To celebrate the joys of mid-life travel, I wanted to share with you a few of the things I’ve learned through travelling in my 50s.
1. If you love to travel, you’re never too young to start and never too old to stop.
I think I got my love of travel from family trips that we made as a child, on camping holidays with my parents and two sisters. I remember being packed sleepy-eyed into the car at dawn for the drive to Dover, where we would take the channel ferry and head off to tour around Europe. I continued to travel as a student, with trips to Kenya and Papua New Guinea and as our family grew I hope I’ve instilled in my children my love of travel. They are certainly confident travellers and citizens of the world. My parents continue to travel well into their 80’s and still enjoy visiting new places, and we love to go with them as a multi-generation family group whenever we can.
2. In your 50s you can have an adventure without feeling you have to prove yourself
I hope that I haven’t lost my spirit of adventure as I’ve got older, in fact I think my confidence has only grown as I’ve travelled more. I still love to go hiking in the Dolomites or try snorkeling with seals as I did in Canada last year, or go cycling through the vineyards in Italy. But I think I also know my limitations and I don’t feel the need to push myself to the limit if it doesn’t feel comfortable. There are some things, like bungie jumping that I’m happy to leave to other adventurous souls and I don’t feel I have to go to every extreme to have a good time.
3. These days it’s about the quality of the experience rather than ticking off the destinations.
One year my daughter got a wall-map for Christmas where she could scratch off the places she’d visited and I realised that she had probably visited more countries than me, even though she’s half my age. But somehow that urge to count off the countries doesn’t seem to appeal as much to me, it’s more about having a fun time wherever I am. I want to slow down a little and savour the experience, have time to sit in that cafe and soak up the atmosphere or chat to the locals I meet. I may visit new places but equally I love to return to Greece each year to visit my sister who lives on Zakynthos. Life is not a race to see everywhere and do everything – instead it’s the experience that counts.
4. Travel is twice as much fun when it’s shared
When my kids were growing up, I was that stressed out mum who couldn’t wait to have a bit of “me time” that didn’t involve organising five people’s lives. But now my children are grown up and leaving home, I’m in the “empty nester” stage where the time together is less frequent and so highly prized. I’ve found that travel is a way to re-connect with the family and so whenever we can we still try to have a family trips or book a villa together, spending time cooking, sightseeing or chilling out. I do sometimes travel alone when it’s more of a work project, but I find it’s much more fun to share the travel experience and make memories together.
5. In your 50s you can afford to treat yourself, but travel doesn’t have to be expensive
When I travelled as a child, my parents were on a tight budget and we generally went camping in Europe or rented a country cottage. Now we can afford to stay in nice hotels and enjoy the little luxuries of life, and relish it even more because we’ve earned it. I may go hiking over a high pass in the Alps and stay in a simple mountain hostel at the top of a mountain, but when I get back to the valley I’ll enjoy that boutique hotel with a spa and delicious food. That’s not to say that every pleasure in life costs the earth. I’m just as happy buying street food in a local market as I am in trying the cuisine of a top chef. Even if you are on a limited budget there are ways to treat yourself to a great experience, by travelling out of season or snapping up the bargain flights so you can afford a stylish hotel or fantastic holiday at a lower price.
I hope that you too enjoy the pleasures of travel at any age and continue, as I have though your 50s and beyond!