I’m not in a position to give anyone life advice, but I can’t help but share some thoughts I’ve been having lately, as it relates to travel, life, and getting older. In some ways I view this blog as a diary of sorts, and sometimes it feels good to just type things out.
For some context, I suppose I’m having a lot of these thoughts because I’m getting older. I’m 32 — I’m by no means “old,” but I’m also not young anymore. Growing up, I remember being told that the days are long but years are short. In the past couple of years I’ve definitely started to feel that way. That brings me to the travel angle, and how getting older impacts my perception of and desire to travel, and that’s both a good and bad thing.
Travel (and life) used to be so carefree
When I was younger, travel was so carefree for me. Admittedly I had a different youth than most — in college, I didn’t go to parties every weekend, but rather went on mileage runs. Even after graduating from college, I mainly only had myself to take care of, and I even lived in hotels full-time. It was me and my carry-on, and that was kind of liberating.
I think back fondly on those times, and I’m so happy I had those experiences. When I think back on that era, I think of US Airways Dividend Miles, British Midland Diamond Club, Lufthansa’s old first class product, the days when SWISS had tons of partner first class award availability, that brief period where Turkish Airlines leased Jet Airways 777s and had first class, etc. Fun times!
From an outsider’s perspective, some might think that sounds lonely or sad (I mean, I can’t count the number of people who told me exactly that at the time), but it’s something I genuinely enjoyed, and I have no regrets about it.
I’m not suggesting others should necessarily do the same thing. Rather my point is that pursuing whatever you’re passionate about at a young age — no matter how strange it might be — is great. Admittedly this assumes you’re able to do so. I know that I was extremely lucky, as I pursued my passion and was able to make a living with it.
Here in the miles & points world, when I see people a decade younger than me traveling a bunch, I think to myself “good for you, and I hope you always remember these good times.”
And that brings me to how my life has changed quite a bit, but not in a bad way…
The older I get it, the harder it is for me to travel
I just embarked on my current review trip, where I’ll be flying (almost) nonstop for the next several days. I love flying every bit as much as I did a decade ago, but the feeling of leaving home gets more difficult with each and every trip. Obviously I’ve come a long way here, because back in the day I didn’t even have a home. Even when I did finally get a home, I’d have an itch to go somewhere after a few days.
Leaving behind Ford, Miles, Winston, my mom, etc., simply gets harder with each trip:
- Frankly leaving Ford (my husband) at home is the easiest part of all this; we both work from home and spend almost all of our time together, so a few days apart is good for our relationship
- Leaving Winston (our dog) behind is the hardest part; he follows me every step, and I just can’t handle the look on his face when I pack my bag (which I only do about 15 minutes before heading out the door, on purpose)
- Leaving Miles (our son) behind is hard, because I don’t want to miss anything in his development; but I know leaving him will only get harder in the future, when he’s actually old enough to process that I’m leaving and (hopefully!) misses me, etc.
- And then of course my mom continues to battle cancer; while I’ve made it a huge priority to spend as much time with her as possible and have no regrets there, that doesn’t make it any easier to get on a plane and travel far away
Back in the day I’d head to the airport without a worry in the world, while now going to the airport kind of eats me up inside. And I recognize at the end of the day that I’m incredibly blessed to have people (and creatures) to miss, because a lot of people don’t have that.
Let me be clear, I still totally love travel and am a huge avgeek. Within a day of leaving I try to forget what I’ve left behind. But as I head out the door, it makes my stomach turn a bit. I’m writing this post from a flight, and I’m reminded of just how much I love flying (and how Copa’s sauvignon blanc is sorta drinkable, but that’s for a different post). The cloud formations, the lightning in the distance, day turning into night… it’s simply magical.
This evolution isn’t a bad thing
This post isn’t at all intended to be a “woe is me, life sucks, I’m mad I’m not young anymore” reflection. Quite to the contrary, it’s intended to be an acknowledgement of life having different phases. If I were in the same place I was a decade ago, I may very well be sad and lonely.
I wouldn’t trade my current situation for anything. I’m happier just being home and going about my daily life than I’ve ever been. But with that joy also comes sadness when there are things you miss.
When it comes to travel, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is being able to see travel (and the world) through Miles’ eyes. You can never recreate the first time you’ve had a particular travel experience, but you can see it through a child’s eyes, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
The moral of the story is that if you’re younger, you’re traveling a lot, you’re a nomad, whatever… good for you. If you’re having fun and not hurting anyone, that’s what matters most. Some people may judge your life from the outside, but that doesn’t really matter. I think it’s worth enjoying each stage of life for what it has to offer, and joy can come in many forms.
And hopefully this won’t be the last stage of life I get to experience when it comes to travel, because things won’t always be the way they are now. Heck, maybe in 18+ years (when Miles is hopefully off doing his own thing, whatever it might be), Ford and I will be back to carefree travel, sipping dirty martinis in an airline lounge somewhere at 7AM before our engine-less Boom Overture flight to somewhere, without a care in the world… or not. Either is fine by me.
Life is an adventure, and I realize that more with every day that passes. Adventures can come in different forms, and in many cases don’t even have to involve leaving home. There’s a lot of joy in everyday life, even among the chaos.
As I reflect, I can’t help but realize how much my perspective has changed on life and travel in the past decade, and especially in the past five years. I used to not want to be anywhere for more than a few days, and couldn’t run out the door fast enough. Nowadays you basically have to drag me out the house (though not quite in a David Dao way). I’m just happy when I wake up healthy and fairly well rested, and those around me are okay.
Thanks for indulging me in this reflection… and if anyone has anything to add to the topic in the comments section, I’d love to hear it! I learn every day in life, and if I’m fortunate enough to be around in a decade, I’m curious to see how my perspective evolves. Time flies.