A decade ago, I wrote with great conviction, that dreams have expiry dates. If we don’t pursue our dreams now, when else could we see it come true? Does it always have to be after we have achieved a certain status in our professional lives, have two kids in tow and then realise you have an expensive mortgage to pay off?
I wrote it then because I was absolutely convinced that I needed to get a head start in this travelling thing. Might as well do it while I am still young and full of vigour, I thought. Yet when I was out there backpacking the world, I had met a lot of older travellers on the road. Some in their 40’s, some in their 50’s and I was instantly drawn to their inner calm, wisdom and their ability to let go, even when things didn’t go as planned.
They all taught me two profound things: it’s never too late to pursue dormant dreams and you’re never too old to travel. Here are some real good reasons why you should dust off your passport and get ready to meet the world.
1. You don’t need to travel like a backpacker
It may be a little daunting to stay in a hostel dormitory with 10 other rowdy backpackers. You may perhaps crave for a bit of privacy and comfort. You may want to curl up with a book after dinner instead of checking out the best dive bars in the city. Of course there’s no age limit to partying but if you think you’re too old for all of that, why not book a single room in a budget hotel or a serviced Bed & Breakfast? These places are usually clean, tastefully decorated and would provide you everything you need for a good night’s sleep.
Even hostels these days offer single or double rooms to people who require some space to themselves without a hefty price tag.
2. You can always join walking tours or look out for company
If you have to travel alone and would like some company, you can always opt to join walking and day tours to meet other people. Chances are, there will be other solo travellers or other couples who are also looking for travel companionship. Striking up conversations when you both share something in common, i.e. visiting the Pyramids of Giza together, would provide you with relevant topics to chat about instead of trying to start a conversation with a random person in a restaurant.
Try going online to look for online travel forums or communities where you can meet locals who are willing to take you around. Do it safely, of course! What better way to connect with the local culture and experiencing the country with a native by your side? You might even discover restaurants or activities that are not mentioned in your guidebook.
3. You can afford it
Travelling has never been more affordable. With budget airlines, travel booking websites like Traveloka, and free Internet resources, you now have more options than before.
Also compared to your typical 20-year old backpacker, your bank account is going to look healthier. If you’ve always been saving up for the rainy days, this is your chance to put those hard-earned dollars to good use.
4. Learning new things can invigorate you
You might be at an age where habits are hard to break and routines dictate how you go about your days. Your values, your beliefs and your interests may all have remained pretty consistent throughout the years. You may assume at this age, that you know yourself pretty well. Really? Then let travelling surprise you. Travelling isn’t just an outer journey but also an inner one. Let your experiences help you rethink your values or reevaluate where your passion lies. You may pick up new hobbies or you may stoke old flames of interests. Wouldn’t it be fun to discover that you might actually be good at photography or languages?
5. Traveling is a gift you give yourself
Don’t listen to naysayers who tell you that travelling is reserved for the young ones. The world is large and generous to accommodate travellers of any age, race or social class. You have spent your youth raising children, building a home, working hard to put food on the table and taking care of every loved ones’ needs. Now you deserve a bit of a me-time to explore and to nourish your weary spirit. It is a gift of a lifetime that you can decide to give yourself. Take responsibility of your own dreams. If you’re at a point in life where you tell yourself, Okay, now that I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to do, what now?, then this is your cue to travel.
Travelling can keep your mind and body active. It will inspire a sense of empowerment when you push yourself from the familiar and into the unknown. Don’t spend the rest of your life seeing and experiencing only one part of the world. Put away that travel magazine, go out there and experience it for yourself.