Travel Styles Change – and that’s Okay!
Life is interesting.
One minute you’re sitting on an overcrowded, dilapidated school bus in Nepal, the next minute you’re perfectly content watching an episode of the Amazing Race while bouncing a newborn baby on your lap.
There was a time when we couldn’t bear the thought of living a normal 9-to-5 routine. We spent years going to school, followed by years of living the life of a cubicle dweller. We dreamed of escape. We dreamed of living a life less ordinary.
So we did the unthinkable.
We quit our jobs to travel around the world, forever changing our lives.
We thought we were special. We thought we were pioneers.
However, we quickly realized that an army of nomadic travelers had blazed the trail before us. We were not special and our adventures were not original.
Don’t get me wrong, they were fantastic personal achievements, but we were not the first people to scuba dive Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. We were not the first people to live out of a backpack for a year, nor will we be the last.
But we felt alive. We felt true freedom.
We later discovered social media and its powerful reach, uncovering a nation of like-minded travelers. We wrote blog posts, shared our adventures, tweeted, retweeted and liked.
Suddenly the world became much smaller.
However, our rare and unique travel experiences started to feel a little less rare and unique. There was a time, not so long ago, when our night spent under the desert stars in a Bedouin camp in Jordan’s Wadi Rum felt truly original – this was before dozens of travel bloggers successfully changed the way travel and tourism boards operate (click here if you’re unfamiliar with the Visit Jordan social media campaign).
After reading hundreds of blog posts about Jordan, we now categorize it with other popular travel destinations like Mexico or Thailand. Is that wrong? Is that even accurate?
If you ask the average Canadian about travel to Jordan or Thailand, I guarantee you’ll get a wide variety of responses. Some will say it’s too dangerous. Some will rave about the wonderful people and hospitality. Some will simply remain disinterested.
My point is that regardless of your travel style, traveling is a very personal experience.
Without question, there is a big difference between traveling and vacationing. But is one travel style better than the other? It’s a tiring debate that has no winner, but there was a time when we thought the only way to really experience a country was to strap on a backpack and start exploring. To ride local transit, to sleep on the cheap, to eat where the locals eat.
But, like most things in life, our travel style has changed. It has evolved.
Traveling is an important part of lives, but equally important is having a family. Now that we have Baby B in our lives, our travel style must adapt to the changing times.
We get a lot of emails and comments from readers. Most are questions about travel destinations or advice on where to go next. We love the interaction for many reasons, but mostly because it reminds us how fortunate we are to have traveled to over 50 countries together.
Last week, we received a thought provoking question from a reader:
“Why do you write a travel blog if you’re not traveling around the world any more?”
It’s a fair question. It’s true, we’re not currently on an around the world trip. We did that for a year, it was fun, but we no longer want that kind of lifestyle – at least not right now. Being newbie parents is challenging enough, I can’t image what it would be like to backpack with an infant.
The answer is simple – we have no desire to travel indefinitely.
We like our jobs and our home. We like our comfy bed and flat screen television. We like having a car and a savings account. But these are things that long term travelers must sacrifice for a life of constant travel.
This is where we insert a cliche like “the grass is always greener on the other side” or “all good things must come to an end”.
We no longer resist the 9-to-5 routine because our travels have taught us that happiness is a state of mind. It’s not about geography, it’s about psychology. We don’t have to visit India or Japan to go on a personal pilgrimage (although it’s certainly more adventurous that way!).
Travel is important to us, but so is raising our baby boy and achieving greatness in our careers. Because we no longer want to travel perpetually, we’ve changed our travel style to find balance between our careers and family.
Our new goal is to visit 5 countries per year. This might include an all-inclusive vacation to Mexico, backpacking across China or trekking to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Ultimately, we would like to visit 100 countries before we’re 50 years old, but we don’t want to limit our travels to only “new” countries just because we’re targeting an arbitrary number.
What is your travel style? Has it changed over the years?
Share your story in the comments section below, we’d love to hear about it!