11 Reasons We are So Glad to Travel ‘Young’

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.

Body shape of a majority of the cruisers we observed.

Body shape of a majority of the cruisers we observed.

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.

My Plea

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.

Relaxing in a hammock in Costa Rica

Relaxing in a hammock in Costa Rica

Tags: , , ,

21 Responses to “11 Reasons We are So Glad to Travel ‘Young’”

  1. John March 21, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I love it. My wife and I are planning to jump all in with our 3 kids. This post is a perfect explanation of what and how we are thinking. Youth is the time to explore the world, before we grow old in our habits, and thinking and don’t want to change.
    My parents are just now thinking about retirement and they fall into the “cruisers” category and I find it sad when I think of what they have to look forward to in their “golden years”. Today is our “golden years” and we need to seize the day.

    • S King March 21, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Well said John! These ARE our Golden Years! It’s such an incredible time to be alive when the world seems so accessible. I can’t wait for you to get out there with your three children. Keep us posted!

      • John March 21, 2012 at 11:50 am #

        It was fun to see your post with the Dennings, we have a lot in common with them and it’s been inspiring. Still so much to do to make sure everything is ready. But the clock is ticking, everyday that goes by it seem more unbearable that we aren’t already out. Tick tock, I feel like captain hook being haunted by the ticking clock in the crocodile.

  2. Mary March 21, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    I almost totally agree:) As some one who is slightly overweight I really do not miss out on things. A few I suppose are made more difficult but I think it is more a state of mind blockage than a physical one for most people. That being said I agree with you and also plead with people to live NOW not in some future that may or may not turn out as planned!

    • S King March 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

      Mary – you in no way fit in to the fat cruise ship passenger column…you’re one of the most active people I know.

      This wasn’t supposed to be a post about having extra weight…it was supposed to be about experiencing travel when you are able to.

      I am sure that for most of the cruisers, they were very grateful to do just what they were doing.
      Nonetheless, I still believe that the ability to travel young gives a lifetime of value.

  3. Catherine Forest March 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes! I feel exactly the same! This is why we travel young too and we feel sooo blessed!!

    • S King March 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

      Yes, and you look like you are fully enjoying all that Costa Rica has to offer. Your photos are beautiful!

  4. Susan March 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Funny you should post this today. We went to a port town in Mexico and found ourselves surrounded by cruise ship passengers. Most of them, however, were the young, obnoxious testosterone filled spring breakers, but some older passengers. We actually met one man and his daughter and he said he had thought about traveling and living outside the US, but his wife wouldn’t do it.

    I’m so thankful that, as spouses, we’re on the same page to travel while we can. And one thing I have tried to do everywhere we go is to leave a positive impact, as a US citizen, with those we meet. Not always an easy task, but making someone smile can do wonders!

    Great post Mrs. King! 🙂

  5. Jim & Judy March 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    A wonderful way to write about reasons to travel while young with young children.

    We do have to defend ourselves though as REALLY ACTIVE RETIREES who love to travel and mix it with adventure. We DO NOT fit into the group you happened to see and yes, we know it is sad to see those who have so little physical ability to explore, BUT at least they are not home sitting in from of a TV. We know what you are saying and that is one of the reasons we are out there exploring as we travel – not wanting to waste even a few minutes.

    Love to you all and keep up the positive adventure!
    Judy & Jim

    • S King March 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Jim & Judy…
      YOU are our inspiration…and we knew that 10 years ago when we met you snowshoeing in the Rocky Mountains. We didn’t know that the fateful glove that Mr. King lost was to be picked up by some of the best and most lively (then 60) year olds we’d ever meet.

      When we lived in Colorado and got together in Frisco and Boulder, we realized that Judy can kick our butts snowshoeing, leaving us wheezing way behind her. In between your world trips, we became inspired to explore ourselves. Little did we know we’d be able to do this full time.

      We will meet up again somewhere in this world and share Jim’s favorite drink, a gimlet.

  6. Jola March 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Love this post and agree 100%. Doing, participating and experiencing new things while traveling should be common sense, yet in today’s world many prefer the digital, artificial, safe, touch-screen alternative, take off your 3-D glasses, put on your sunglasses, grab your passport and explore!
    btw ten nalesnik na zdjeciu jest genialny! :))

    • S King March 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

      Dziękuję bardzo!

  7. Amy @WorldschoolAdventures March 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Two legged waddling sausage! Ha!
    One of our biggest motivators has been realizing that health is a fickle thing. 42 year olds getting brain tumours, 50 year olds having heart attacks….we think that we are all going to live till 90 and have all the time in the world but really we never know when our time is up. We want to live now, be true to our dreams, and have a life with no regrets.

  8. Sandy A. March 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    I can assure you that being older does not necessarily mean one has to get fat. I will eb 50 this year and I am still within 10 lbs of what I weighed when I was 18 years old. My mother, 77 years old, still weighs within 10 lbs of what she wieghed when she got married to my dad in 1959. My dad is pretty much the same. It has to do with how you take care of yourself, or not, as the case may be.
    Cruise ship passengers are the Walmart people of the sea. They want LOTS for CHEAP, food, or otherwise. This is one reason the people of Placencia have riled against the cruise ships that wanted to come there. They are not really travelers, they are sheeple being herded around and told what to do; they do not want to think on their vacation. However, that is their pergoative. These people and their size and attitude represent, unfortunately, a vast portion of Americans. It never ceases to amaze me whenever we return to the States how many people are the size of refrigerators.

  9. Rachel March 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    I laughed so hard when I read this. Everything you said is so true. I feel so blessed that we are able to travel now. We are enjoying every moment of it and so are my adventurous boys. Great post!

    • S King March 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

      And we are so very fortunate to be your friends on this island. I’m so glad you moved here and we connected. Thanks Rachel! Love your boys, all 4 of them 😉

  10. Lisa Wood March 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    So very true – we wished we had travelled when our oldest was younger (he is now 17 1/2 and in the navy!)We so have a desire to show our boys the real life, not just through reading in a school classroom – we want them to live and experience everything. When I was a nurse (in the aged care industry) I used to look after people who always wanted to travel but never got around to it…and then it was too late.
    Young Travel makes sense.
    Cheers
    Lisa

  11. Jennifer Pearce April 6, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    It really does make so much sense to travel young, and I am so glad we are doing just that. I like John’s comment about these years being the golden years. They truly are. I love that photo of Miss I with her daddy. 🙂

  12. Cassy July 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    I loved reading your reasons to travel young. I am not so young, 46, but I have 2 children aged 6 and 8 and we take them away for 3 weeks every year and have just been to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Southern Thailand. My deepest wish is to sell everything (free ourselves) and go and live in another country, probably Thailand, possibly Bali – we just need to work out a way of making some money while we do it!

  13. Joy February 3, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    This has been great to read! We are in our early thirties and have been traveling for years, living overseas in China & Japan for eight of those and (independently and together) and have first baby due in March. One of the big concerns was “Can we continue to travel?” So many people have told us how our lives would change and how we would never be able to travel the way we do again (we’ve logged about fifty something -without overlap of the ones we have both traveled – countries if you add our travels together and a good fortyish each).

    Our families have both commented about how we needed to be saving money and not traveling, and now with a baby on the way they are especially concerned that we don’t know what we are getting into. They were not too happy about our travels while pregnant (Singapore, Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaii, Canada and Hong Kong) and friends and family have both expressed the attitude of “you really will have to stop all this soon.” My sister proceeded to tell me how miserable her two year old is to travel with.

    Since we don’t have children yet and can’t argue, this has been pretty discouraging. Then again, they said we would have to slow down when we got and married and got pregnant too…….and neither has been the case.

    Go more slowly, sure I see that – but stop? I hope that never happens. Thank you so much for writing this!

    • Elaine July 25, 2013 at 4:49 am #

      Joy: I travelled (Egypt, Greece, France, Germany, Chile, Argentina) until arriving home in NZ 23 weeks pregnant. We have taken our kids on trips to Australia and Fiji (twice!), Chile, Ecuador and Thailand. This October we will travel to Cambodia and Vietnam. Our kids are now 9 and 7 and they know how to travel. I did the flight to Thailand on my own with the kids, no problem, they slept 8 hours of the 11 hour flight! If you want to travel with bubs then you can, if you want to settle down in one spot and create support networks and relationships then you can, but it’s your choice.
      I was inspired by a story I saw years ago about a German couple cycling around NZ. She got pregnant, 2 months before the baby came they stopped cycling and by the time bubs was 11 months they were on the road again.
      This also gave us food for thought http://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=10668494
      I agree wholeheartedly with the reasons to travel young!

Leave a Reply