Travel Now – Over 50
When you get to be over 50 years old, travel becomes something a bit different. When I was young, I had the energy and the desire to travel with a backpack on my back, and just go. No plans, but a lot of plans.
Travel Then – 20s
Impromptu Trip to London
One time, during a three-month summer school break while I was taking court reporting, I traveled to Europe with $500 in my pocket, and stayed in Europe for three plus months. (I traveled with a friend who actually invited me and knew about working overseas, so when I say ‘I’, please read we or us). From Edmonton at a travel agency which was close to where I went to school by the name of Travel Cuts (I am not sure if it is still there), I obtained a work visa and just packed my bag and went. I had no bookings, but just a meeting set up in London by the travel agency with an unknown person who was going to help me navigate the work environment of London for young people, and specifically, young people with a visa from a foreign country. I bought a plane ticket that brought me to London, and I had a plane ticket that brought me home from Amsterdam. That way, I told myself, I could go from London and if I didn’t go anywhere else, for any number of reasons, one of them being that I had so little money, then I would make my way to Amsterdam, and at least be able to say that I saw two parts of Europe. At that time too, there was not the Euro, but each country had its own currency.
How I got a job in London
So on the first day, I met up with a guy in London, and there were other people there, other young people there from many different countries, and we were told the best places to try to get a job: Bars and pubs, restaurant type jobs, and if you had any secretarial type skills, you could work for a temp agency. So that was the kind of job I went for, I went to a temp agency and took a typing test and got a job as a temp worker in offices. Each afternoon, I would have to phone in to the agency and see where I was to go the next day. At that time, too, there was no such thing as cellphones — well, maybe there was, but they were few and far between. Only the very richest person would have a cellular phone, and it was more likely a satellite phone, not cellular. So I would have to find my way to a phone booth with a handful of change and make a call.
How I found a place to live in London
Also on that first day, we were teamed up with a number of other young women who were interested in sharing a flat. The cost was a lot of money, and we paid by the week per person, but for one room and a shared kitchen, I was able to afford it. There were at least six other groups of two living in the flat. It was a lot of fun. By the way, one of the best lessons I learned while in the flat was a rule which involved cleaning up after ourselves. I never had a problem with cleaning up after myself, but we were instructed to clean the bathtub after each use. And I still to this day follow this rule. And I have gotten my husband to do the same thing. It is one of the nicest things to get into a completely clean shower every day. I love it.
Where I lived in London
So I had a flat in the third zone which in London, it is divided into zones. The number 1 zone or the first zone is in the middle, and out from there. Three is the less costly zone, and less desirable. This is back in the 80s, so I’m not sure what it is like today but back in the day that was how it was. We had a flat, a row house, in the three zone.
Going to work everyday in London
Each day I was sent to a different part of London. I came from a city where we had bus service and no underground, or Tube as it was called in London. And I made my way every day on the Tube to a different office building in London. I would sometimes answer phones, sometimes I would have to type letters, and do other odd jobs like that associated with working in an office. I had a bad day once when I was taking dictation, and I could not read my notes. It was a very bad day for me, and I don’t think the client was very happy with my work. It sort of makes me chuckle, but I still feel some embarrassment about it.
Figuring out the Tube
I felt very comfortable figuring out the Tube or the underground, and even taking the buses. Back then, in London, we had to carry around a book called A to Z which listed each one of the streets, and I had to figure out how to find my way around with that little book each day. But once you figured it out, it was very easy to get around.
What we did on the weekends when we lived in London
On the weekends, we would pack a small backpack, and take a bus or a train out of town. We went south to Brighton which is in the southern-most part of Great Britain. We went to Scotland for the weekend, and that was a long train ride, and the weather was horrible, but I really enjoyed it. I especially loved the ride there which was through very different landscapes.
Time to leave London and explore
After about six weeks of working, me and my friend hopped on a bus which was going to take us all the way to Greece. We had decided that this was a good thing to do, as we were ready for something different. So off we went on a bus. We had to get off the bus to get over the channel by ferry between Great Britain and the Brussels. My friend and I just left our luggage on the parking lot, and for some reason thought that it was “checked” all the way through to our destination. Needless to say, we had no luggage from that moment on. But somebody did pick it up, and it was delivered to us in Greece one week later.
No internet – no cell phones
Right now, as I write this, I am in awe as to how we figured all of this out without cellphones or the internet.
So we made it to Greece without any sleep, and on one of the dirtiest buses there was. This was the cheap of the cheap, that’s for sure. There was a washroom in the bus, but it smelled to high heaven by the time we got to our destination.
We were unceremoniously dropped off in the industrial area of Thessaloniki in the northern part of Greece. My friend had not slept for the entire trip I don’t believe. She was very tired and very disoriented. We found some coffee, and found out that NES means cold in Greek, and we had Nescafe. It was a shock to our system, but we soon started to love the Greek cold coffee. It was delicious.
YWCA is a good place to stay
So we stayed at a YWCA in Thessaloniki and got to know the area a little bit. Then we decided to go to a beach town, and made our way there. From there, we headed to Amsterdam by train and then homeward bound.
Married and children and travel
And then I got married. I took a couple of trips with my husband but then we had children right away. We had a lot of children right away. We had four children in under four years. So that became our life for a long time. We did take our children on trips around Canada, but no flying trips. We drove everywhere. I was frankly too exhausted to think about a flying trip, and we just didn’t have the money for big trips. So we went camping. We drove to various places in Saskatchewan, various places in Alberta, and various places in BC. We went all the way to Prince Rupert, to Vancouver Island, Kelowna, all over the Okanagan, and to Osoyoos. We went to many places within Alberta from the north at Slave Lake, Grande Prairie, all around Edmonton, south to the Rocky Mountains, Jasper, Banff, and Calgary, Waterton National Park, Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Along with those trips we also traveled a fair amount for the children’s sporting events.
Starting to travel with my partner
During this time also, my husband and I were able to start to travel ourselves. We were lucky, and we took advantage of, our family being willing to take care of the children. So we started our European trips when I was about 40 years old. We also went away to a few all inclusives in various countries, and found the time very relaxing. We loved it. We also loved the break, and the relaxation time.
The children are now grown
But then we started to want a bit more. So as the children grew and we were less busy with them, we started to branch out a bit. We started to take the train to various places in Europe, and those trips were fun. I took a trip to Peru and hiked the Inca Trail.
Trip to Peru
From the Peru trip, I was hooked. I loved it. I was able to travel with my daughter and good friend, and even though we were with young people, and I was always at the end, I think I kept up all right. And therein lies problem. I would like to go on these hiking trips, and I would like to do some more adventurous trips, but they all seem to be primarily young people. And then I get a bit anxious that I am holding them back by not walking at their pace. I am the asshole who holds everyone up. I don’t want to be that person. So there is the problem.
What it means to be old and young and want to travel
Contrast the young people trips to the trips that accommodate elderly people, and that is not my style either. So I fit somewhere in the middle, and I must find the trip or the company that best suits me. I like to travel alone, or with my husband, but sometimes it’s fun to go with others who do some of the planning, and who have been there. I am not totally ready for the elderly people style trips, and while that may be good for some people my age, it’s not my style. I don’t want to be on a bus and drive by something and be brought to something to get off the bus to see. I am looking for something where I can walk or hike, but not at a breakneck pace where I am exhausted. I walk every day, but I don’t have the same energy that I used to have, that’s for sure. I like to look for places to stay, but now I want something which is inexpensive, and which is nice.
Where do I want to go
And where do I want to go? That is an interesting question. Sometimes I find it hard to get others excited about the kind of travel that I do because their spouse is just not interested in going anywhere but on a very safe and “canned” trip. I would like to go to Asia, but I am nervous for that kind of a trip. (I do plan to investigate further and find out how to travel through Asia). And so what I was thinking was maybe I should go on the trip and when I get there meet up with some kind of tour group for people my age. I like to book my own flights, and extend out a lot of trips so that I sort of put more than one trip together and have almost two trips, but that’s just me.
What do I want?
What do I want? I want some exciting travel. I want something which is suited to my personality. I want some travel which is a bit slower and I am able to get to know the area and the people as well. I want to be invigorated, I want to be relaxed, I want to be surprised. Is this possible in a tour group or a tour company? I’m not sure. This is the quest that I am on. I will be writing to a lot of companies to see what they offer, and whether I should travel with them.
Upcoming I am going on a Viking River Cruise. I am very hopeful with this company that it is the kind of trip that I want. Basically they will be bringing me to the places I want to go, I will get to see them, and then I will get back onto the boat and have a nice bed to sleep in, and my luggage is all there. So easy peasy, but not canned. I don’t think I am ready for a big ship yet though. My biggest worry about the big ships is felling like a herd of cattle going through the gates back and forth every day and going to where someone wants you to go. I don’t feel like I am quite ready for that yet. Or am I? I hope it’s not like that on the Viking cruise. Please stay tuned and I will tell you or show you how it turns out.
When is the right time?
When do I want to travel (my 56th birthday is in two days)? Now is the right time for me. While I work. While I work and feel healthy. While I am healthy. While I can walk. While I am able. While I want to explore. While I am excited for the world. While I am not too busy. Kids have ^ groan ^ grown, and I’m not organizing my life around appointments. Isn’t that what old people do? Or maybe I am being judgmental about old people. And speaking of old people, I am an old person to one two is 20 years my junior. Somebody who is 20 years older than me is old. So I don’t feel old because I am not old, that’s for other people 20 years my senior. I feel much younger than I look by the way. So the time is right now. Right now is the right time for me.
Why am I thinking like this? Well, truth be told, I had an Instagram incident recently. A couple of months ago, I decided that I was going to try to build up my Instagram followers. And so I started to look around, and I started to read a little bit. Everybody says, well, follow those who are in your niche, and then when you follow them, engage with them. So I started to look around, and I found some Instagram accounts that I found intriguing, and I thought, well, I want to be like that account, and they have a good following, and they seem to be engaging. I also had read that I need to make friends online, and engage with people. So I started to engage more, and, yes, I started to get more and more followers. I am nowhere near where I would like to be to be influencer status, but in reality, I don’t want to be an influencer, I just want to be taken seriously. So there was one account that I followed, and I started watching all of her stories. She does a lot of travelling, and I asked her some questions which were pertinent to me, and she seemed to have gone through what I am going through right now. So I thought, well, she knows what she is doing, so I will follow her. So I started to follow her, and I started to see what she does, and I started to engage with her. She answers back every time. But then she started talking about her travels, and she is a young person, the same age as my children. And then I was watching her on her travels, and I was trying to engage without being a stalker. I was very aware of that, I’m not being a stalker. I am looking but not engaging all the time. But then she started talking about always attracting creepy old people, people who take her under their wing so to speak. And funny thing is I was feeling like that, well, she should be careful, and now I’m a bit worried about her going out doing this and that on her travels, but I didn’t say anything. And then she was mentioning again about always attracting these old people. And I came to realize that I’m sure she considers me old, so I am probably that creepy old lady which she doesn’t want to be chatting with her. Anyways, one of my major problems is that I don’t feel old. I don’t think old. I have low energy, and that is the only old thing about me.
So now I am on a quest to find the best travel company or travel and tour company which will suit my purposes, that will suit people my age, and all of those who are in the same situation as I am.
I want it all, but I also want to do it my way. Thoughts?
You were so adventurous. Love the vintage photos.
Thank you! I feel like I passed on my adventurousness to my children!
It’s great that you have these adventures to look back on, and to inspire you to have more adventures. Keep trying new things; some may be exactly what you want, and the others will give you more experience!
Lori, I still want the adventures and you’re right that I will keep trying new things
I love the photos! And I really love that you just took off to England – what a fun adventure!
It was a fun adventure, Pam!
Love the photos! This was a fun read. I have heard good things about the Viking River Cruises. I’m looking forward to hearing about it!
I am sure the Viking cruise will be fun. Looking forward to it!
Our goal in life is to take adventures and have stories to tell. It looks like you’ve achieved that. Win 🙂
Hi Jen I really like new experiences!
Wow, what an adventurous life you have had. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
It has been an adventurous time and I am hoping for many more adventures!
It was great to get to know you a little better through this post. I don’t think 50 is old, 70 is really when it gets harder to travel. I know someone that is 92 and has been to more countries this year than I have every been in my whole life. You are only as old as you feel!
Lisa that is so true, you are as old as you feel!
Awesome pictures! I’d love to go to Europe soon. I’m in my 30’s right now. I think it’s a good time to go and explore 🙂
Brianna, I think 30s is a perfect time to explore
Times change for sure with the years passing by. Quite a journey you have had, us too!
I’m looking forward to hearing what you think about the river cruise. I’m considering doing one for just the exact reasons you mention. I too want to see new places but don’t have the energy or the sense of adventure to backpack across Europe.
Shiela, I hope to get some stories and/or videos for sure!
How neat to look back on all your travels. I agree, travel has sure change with age.
Julie, I agree that travels make great memories!
Always have adventures even if they aren’t the same as when you were younger. I hope to remember the trips I took when I was 20 as well as when I was 50 when I’m 80 and telling my grandkids about them.
Leanne, I hope to tell my grandkids about my travels for sure!
You’re the creepy old lady! 🤣. Okay, love your story. This is our 2nd turn around SE Asia. It’s easier to navigate than Europe and the UK really. Thins are pretty easy here and much cheaper. We are 46 & 49 respectively. We first traveled the world for 16 months with our teenagers and now we have a 2yr old and just travel with him fill-time. So, one creepy old lady to another, let me know if you have any questions about traveling SE Asia
Hi, Wendy! Wow, full-time travel. Good for you! I will be following you – that came out a bit creepy I think 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story! I went to England 7 years ago to student teach and have missed it ever since. I can’t wait to go back one day.
Hi, Jordin, what a great experience to teach in England. I hope you can go back soon!
This is what travel is all about, the memories of crazy, happy & scary times. It’s also what makes life worth living.
You’re right, Hera. I love living a bit out of my comfort zone, that’s for sure!
I enjoyed hearing about your travels over the years. I think you will enjoy your Viking River Cruise. This past week I attended a meeting hosted by my friend travel planning company and it was about river cruising. It looks like a wonderful way to view a country from the inside, vs one side of the ocean. 🙂
Hi, Missy, I am really looking forward to the Viking Cruise! I never thought of the inside vs ocean-side view, but I think that is so true!
I’ve always wanted to go on a river cruise! Can’t wait to hear about your experience! Have fun!