We get a lot of different reactions when we tell people that we are ‘permanently nomadic’. Most are surprised that we have chosen to do this while we are young (a compliment to us) and especially with children. Many people wait until they are retired to travel and others think traveling with children is too much work. But I say, “Why wait?” And then I got the answer of why NOT to wait.
The inspiration for this post was a wave of cruise ship passengers that flooded the Bacab Eco Park while we were there.
They came in droves, filing out of the air conditioned Pullman bus to the area of the pristine pool. They’ve come here to go mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking on trails.
But as I look at them, I realize that most of these people cannot physically do these activities. Most of them are fat, obese, and out of shape. Most don’t walk, they waddle, swaying their bodies side to side making walking look incredibly gruesome. They have legs that resemble bursting sausage links, huge stomachs that seem to defy gravity and a roundness to every part of their body.
I think to myself “I am so glad we are traveling while we are young, healthy and fully alive.”
These cruisers…I am sure they are having a great time. Some went on a few tours that the park offered, but most sat around, enjoyed the buffet the park prepared for them and then boarded the bus to go back to the cruise ship terminal. Basically, they did all the SAME things they would have done on the boat, just in a different location.
Sure, they did get to see some of the landscape of Belize, the beautiful plants, a few animals. And they did enjoy watching my children play in the water.
But I felt a little bit of sadness for them.
Not because they are older, but because they have allowed their bodies to deteriorate so much that, at this point, they can only observe, with minimal participation. They got to enjoy a sliver of Belize, only interacting with the ‘locals’ as service staff, only seeing what is being shown to them, and missing out on the immense thrill of their own discovery.
Travel is about experiencing. Travel adds so much richness to life that the above situation only validated our current slow travel lifestyle. So below you’ll find reasons and inspiration to travel while you too are still ‘young’.
Reasons to “Travel Young”
1 ) The experience will change you to become a more well rounded, fully aware, compassionate person. This will last a lifetime…better to get that education earlier in life.
2 ) You can actually DO all the fun stuff, like hiking through primary rainforest in the Costa Rican jungle, or canoeing through caves in Belize. These experiences are awesome and add variety and interest to life. If you think you can’t do them with children…you’re wrong, we did.
3 ) If you have children…you don’t even know the immense favor and gift you are giving them by allowing them to experience real life, rather than digitally crafted entertainment do-hickeys and an over-scheduled extracurricular activity timetable. Childhood is a time of immense learning, growing and participating in the natural and social world. Children need to experience! Travel does that.
4 ) Living in or just visiting other cultures provides you with a perspective that you cannot achieve by reading. Experience is seeing with your own two eyes, smelling fresh corn tortillas prepared by Mayans, listening to the ocean breeze, feeling the rich textiles of Guatemalan artists and tasting the different spices and herbs in authentic cooking. The experience broadens your horizons and curtails judgement of fellow people.
5 ) Tomorrow may never come. Why wait for retirement that may or may not ever come? So many people put their hopes and desires in the future rather than maximizing their present.
6 ) The sense of seeking adventure, facing a new challenge, and getting outside your comfort zone stays with you. As people get older, their comfort zone becomes a smaller, more enclosed circle. Travel expands the comfort zone and invites new experiences.
7 ) Traveling young helps you keep pushing the limits. Keep challenging yourself. Keep learning. It makes you feel fully alive, utilizing the brain and body in the way it was meant to be used. Putting ourselves in these situations challenges our problem solving skills which is a good skill to test.
8 ) You form a world perspective: It helps to define our way of viewing the BIG picture…after all, there is a BIG world out there and the nature of our communication, business and mix of cultures IS global. Better to learn about it now.
9 ) It helps to define personality and creates inspiration. You become interested and interesting because you have experienced.
10 ) You learn common sense and street smarts. Making your way around a town where the people don’t speak your language and everything is strange and new, you quickly acquire a street smart way of communication fast. Learning to communicate despite language and cultural barriers is a skill that is necessary in this global world, even when interacting with your own culture.
11 ) You learn to prioritize at a young age. Traveling helps you realize that experiences, spending time with your children, and meeting new people are much more important than all the materialistic things that most people surround themselves with. So instead of spending money on that 60″ flat screen, get out and experience the real world.
Grateful for Traveling Young
I’m well aware that not all travelers are like the majority of cruisers we witnessed at the Park. The tourists that flood to Ambergris Caye to snorkel and dive in Belize are usually quite fit. They’ve come to do activities, to experience the reef and not just to observe it.
As I watch my son go down the water slide for the 84th time, I smile gently to myself knowing that he is experiencing, not just observing, a world filled with delightful nature that is meant to be encountered, not just observed from a bus window. And I am grateful that the risk and choices we have made in the past have led to this life.
If you have it in your heart and soul to go out, see and experience the world…find a way to do it. Don’t wait until you become a two legged waddling sausage!
I would love to hear your thoughts….please leave a comment.