A picture popped up on my Facebook feed this morning that reminded me of travelling alone 9 years ago. A spritely 44 year old at the time, it got me thinking about the differences between travelling solo in my younger years and my experiences as a 50 something.
The long haul flight takes its toll.
I’ve been travelling alone internationally for over a decade now and before that regular interstate travel was part of the jobs I had. I remember once during my time as a business traveller, I took 19 flights in 22 days. Sure at the time I was a bit tired by the weekend, but overall the flights didn’t really bother me.
Wherever you travel internationally from my home country Australia pretty much means a long haul flight. Even some flights within Australia would be considered such. When I first started my international solo trips, the long haul was no real big deal. I’d board the plane, get myself comfy, eat my meal, close my eyes and wake up in a different time zone. No big deal. Off the plane I’d hop and on with my adventure for the day.
They say that 50 is the new 30. Ghee wiz whoever came up with that saying obviously doesn’t fly long haul often. On my recent trip to Malaysia, I was reminded once more that I’m no longer a spring chicken.
Long haul flights take their toll on my 50 plus year old body. No longer can I get comfy in my seat, although I can still drop off to sleep, it’s just not the same. My feet swell, my body aches and the slightest noise wakes me. When I disembark the plane I have to force myself to get into adventure mode on the first day.
Your baggage seems heavier
I’ve always travelled light in comparison to others and the scales at the airport don’t lie when I check my bags in at around 15 kilos. But for the life of me I can’t figure out how all of a sudden my bags feel like they weigh a tonne. In my forties I could throw my bags around without much fuss. Now I feel like I’d just rather leave them to lost and found.
Though it’s not all bad news on the bag front. As I’ve aged, strangers are happy to help me with my bag on trains and buses. It seems like a mark of respect, they just want to help and I’m happy to have them do so. I no longer have to protest that I’m capable of struggling for myself.
The best things about travelling alone in your 50’s.
With the obvious changes in your body, comes a different way of travelling. Sure I still love doing the things I’ve always liked to do, like get lost, experiencing different cultures, learning new languages, seeing different architecture and talking to locals, but things have changed.
The best things about travelling alone in your 50’s are that you don’t give two hoots about whether or not you see all the things on the tourist maps. You don’t care to rush.
I still walk everywhere for hours on end but at a slower pace. I’m much happier to sit in local parks and watch the world go by. I no longer care what people think of me.
People from all walks of life are more likely to strike up a conversation with me. I learn so much more from others. I still get asked why I am travelling alone and this is a wonderful way to meet people.
It’s okay to be in bed by 9.30pm and not just an excuse to keep me safe by not staying out late. I love the early mornings in places much more than nights anyway.
I find extremes of weather take their toll more than ever, but hey it’s a great excuse go for a swim, sit in a nice restaurant and have a cold beer or rug up with a hot toddy.
All in all the best things about travelling alone in your 50’s is that you can take your time, you no longer care what people think of you and you don’t have to climb those 300 stairs to see something if you please.
Travelling solo in your 50’s is as awesome as travelling alone in your younger years, it’s just that now you get to really experience a place, it’s people and take the time to enjoy new cultures.