The other day, I was on the treadmill making a pitiful attempt to get my butt in shape before bathing suit season when I found myself in an all too familiar conversation with a good friend of mine.
“So where are you going next?” My friend asked.
“We are thinking about Colombia in June if we can find decent airfare.” I said between breathless gasps. “What about you? Any trips coming up?”
“No. Not for awhile.” My friend replied effortlessly… As if the 5 miles she had already run was no big deal. “We plan to travel someday, after we retire and the kids are out of the house.”
I’ve had this same conversation countless times with different people, and it kind of makes me sad every time.
Why? Well, if the people with whom I was conversing were 65 and closing in on retirement, then it would be great. But I’m having this conversation with 35-year-olds who still have a good 30 years before they reach that wonderful age when they will no longer be woken up by an alarm clock reminding them to get to work.
I definitely understand that travel can be expensive, and that’s the primary reason many people don’t do it. What I don’t understand is this idea of working 85 percent of your life to finally, hopefully, be able to live it in the last 15 percent. Let’s be real and somewhat morbid for a second. Who even knows if you will make it to retirement? None of us is even promised tomorrow. And if you do make it to retirement, are you going to be physically capable of doing all the things you could have done had you traveled in your 20s or 30s? Seriously, I want to go to the beach while I can still rock a bikini. I want to visit world monuments while I’m still in shape enough to climb to the top of them. And I want to walk the streets of a foreign city all day long without worrying about my bunions hurting or veracious veins swelling up like giant earthworms stuck to the back of my legs.
Sure, there are plenty of spry, lively people in their 70s and 80s who are still scuba diving, spelunking, skiing or hiking. But my guess is, most of those lively grannies and grandpas were doing that stuff long before they reached their golden years. If you aren’t doing those things now, trust me, your 75-year-old self isn’t going to do them either. You’ll be too worried about breaking a hip or throwing out your back to do something like leap off a waterfall or climb the Florence Duomo.
So if traveling is something you want to do someday, travel NOW, while you have the physical capability, the energy, and the health to do everything you’ve ever wanted. Travel early in your marriage while your partner is still around to travel with you. Sadly, I know far too many widows who lost their spouse before they were able to travel the world together.
Traveling has been an incredible bonding experience for my husband and me. With every trip, we fall even more in love, we learn new things about each other, and our marriage grows stronger. I’m of the opinion that travel is the best thing for marriages. It’s better than therapy. Because when you are lost in a foreign country, the only thing that is familiar is your spouse, who is lost with you. You lean on each other, you learn together, and through the process of getting unlost, you find yourself becoming closer to the person next to you.