Ever since I can remember travel has been a part of my life.
Making new friends, learning to adapt and fit in, accepting different ways of doing things stood me in good steady when I began travelling with my husband, a geologist and over the years’ living and travelling abroad I’ve become bolder, more confident and I like to think more empowered as a woman.
Lifestyle Fifty is all about empowering you to be the best you can, and as fit and lovely as you can – and to have fun at the same time, and I think that travel can very much be a part of this – err, although definitely not hitch-hiking like we did in our youth 😉 above.
Travelling overseas, road trips, or stints away from home help you look at your life and situation differently. It can give you a helicopter view of any dramas going on at home and also give you the confidence to say “No” to things if you have to and “Yes” if you really want to.
When you travel you’re taken out of your comfort zone, and pushed to your limits in situations you’re maybe not used to and your eyes are opened to different cultures and different ways of life.
You’ll learn valuable social skills and how to be strong when you need to and compassionate too, and your eyes are opened not only to new ideas but you’ll make new friends as well.
I’m lucky to have made some wonderful “Boomer” (and not-quite-boomer) travel blogger buddies many of whom travel the world often, and I was interested to know if they feel travel has empowered them.
Here’s what they had to say …
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Linda Fairbairn – Journey Jottings
As a child I loved treasure hunts –You’re set a problem to solve – you work out a solution – and feel that wonderful sensation of satisfaction as it leads you onto the next clue and the thrill of solving all over again.
By the end, you’ve had fun, you’ve seen, thought and looked at things that most likely would have gone unnoticed and you feel elated and proud of what you have achieved.
Travelling is just like going on a treasure hunt!
You’re set little challenges that need to be solved – such as working out how to get from here to there, finding a place to stay or seeking out a restaurant to eat.
But the best part of these travelling treasure hunts is that you can ask for help and so get given directions and recommendations from people of cultures and backgrounds you’d be unlikely to engage with back home, when you know the way!
And the treasure?
The treasure is a crock full of worldly wonders – luscious landscapes, ancient architecture, tactile textiles, feasts of faraway food, melodic music and the magic of nature’s wildlife.
The treasure of travel is a life-enriching experience full of memories.
Paula Mcinnerney – Contented Traveller
I started travelling because I had read so much growing up, and had always wanted to get out there and see other cultures and different people. To see the similarities and the differences, and nothing has ever changed this philosophy.
My first trip was to Samoa, with my teenage children, mostly because I’d been an avid reader of Somerset Maugham.
My 2nd trip was to Vietnam and this was as a solo traveller because my kids had left home. I was miserable and it was a case of either just sit in the lounge and feel sorry for myself, or do something about it. So I did. I made a game plan. Go away, experience something new and different and then try and meet someone compatible when I returned.
It may sound ruthless, but it worked. Along came my partner Gordon, who picked me up at a parent teacher night, and now we travel together.
My inspiration to travel is an innate curiosity about other people and the way they live their lives. My favourite quote and one I abide by, is a line from Strictly Ballroom:
‘A Life lived in fear is a life half lived’
Jan Robinson – Budget Travel Talk
As a 21 year old I travelled to Europe from Australia. After staying with a girlfriend in London for a week, I travelled through Europe with only my Eurail pass for company.
In that three weeks I learned how to meet people and find my way when I couldn’t speak the language. (Paris I’m looking at you). Sometimes there were tears of frustration and hopelessness, but eventually a calmness surfaced and I sorted it out.
The biggest gift solo travel gave me was a belief in myself. The knowledge that I could survive on my own wits, even if that meant seeking help from others, was an empowering life lesson. Whenever life throws me a challenge that leaves me quaking in my boots, without realising I’m even doing so, I borrow from that inner strength.
My early travels gave me something that every woman needs – confidence in my own abilities.
Annabel Candy – Get in The Hot Spot
I was a clueless 18 year old when I started travelling. I put up with endless harassment from men, ranging from constant pestering to flashing and got myself in some pretty dire situations.
I was constantly running out of money and often resorted to hitchhiking to get around or making friendship bands on the beach to pay my way. Even though I was quite a shy, insecure young girl I was hell bent on seeing the world, and did all kinds of things I would certainly not want my kids to do!
I’m the kind of person who always wants to hike round the next corner or to the top of the hill just to see what’s on the other side.
I’m endlessly curious and I love finding out how other people live. I also love nature, wildlife and learning to speak new languages (mostly very badly) so travel is my true calling.
Despite all the problems I’ve had during my travels, like getting stuck in Jordan with no money, having a bad trip in Greece and running out of my hotel room naked or being in a sailing boat that sank off the Kenyan Coast I’ve muddled on and survived.
Travel has empowered me because I’ve experienced some of the worst things that can happen during my travels and learnt that I can cope with almost any type of deprivation.
These days I prefer to travel in luxury when I can but that’s not the point of travel. The point is to endure lumpy mattresses, dodgy food and constant misunderstandings, and if that’s what it takes to see the world that’s what I’ll do.
In my experience travel has got better as I age. All those travels have made me more confident and adventurous than ever before and best of all, now I’m in my forties, men never hassle me any more 😉
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. “Howard Thurman
Kathy Maris – 50 Shades of Age
I have always had a wanderlust, but unfortunately never had the means to travel very far afield. When my children were young we used to travel as a family on camping holidays to some of our gorgeous coastal locations in South East Queensland and Far North NSW.
As the children grew we became a little more adventurous and actually took them on two overseas skiing holidays; one to New Zealand and one to Canada.
At the end of 2012 I started up my own website and initially wrote posts about being in my fifties, however this soon became a travel blog.
I liked to think that I was inspiring women in my age group who felt worthless to get out and about in the world and make something of themselves and I personally feel that traveling to new places is a good place to start.
I get a great sense of self-achievement from travelling, taking beautiful photos and then adding words to tell my story of my trips and wonderful experiences.
Becoming empty nesters was the turning point for me and my husband. We decided that we would like to travel more to see the world and we have certainly done a lot of this during the past 10 years! In 2014 we travelled right around Australia in a 4WD and caravan and experienced one of the best travel adventures we have ever had.
Australia wowed us with her natural beauty in every corner of this vast country. We have also travelled extensively throughout South East Asia with trips to Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bali.
Last year we embarked on our first cruise to Mexico and the Caribbean which hooked us straight away, so we booked another cruise, which we’ve just returned from, to South East Asia to a couple of countries that we haven’t visited before. In 2017 we are hoping to cruise the Mediterranean and spend some time travelling in Italy.
We have found that as semi-retirees we now have the time, money and freedom to travel as we please (within reason). We are always on the lookout for travel specials and normally don’t spend too much on air fares and accommodation.
My philosophy is that we don’t travel to stay in 5 star hotel resorts where you never get out and about to experience the destination. I would much prefer to get off the beaten track and experience, feel and taste the culture, people and food of the destination.
I am praying that I am able to keep travelling well into my seventies or even eighties!!
Michele Legge – Leggingit
Travelling has made me more confident I used to have panic attacks and spend my days going through ‘what if’ scenarios all the time, but now I rarely have them. I enjoy the ‘moments’ more and deal with things as they happen not in case they happen.
Jenny Freedman – A Taste of Travel
I well remember the first time I travelled without my husband. I had always travelled on my own before I met him but years of relying on him to ‘take charge’ had left me questioning whether I could manage.
After a slow and nervous start, I felt the old confidence come back…so much so that i stayed away for three months loving every minute of being my own boss again!
When I eventually returned, I found that my confidence had increased in so many other areas of my life.
Taking the first step is always the hardest in whatever you do. With travel there are some many rewards but not too many negatives. I was nervous about eating on restaurants on my own but I always ended up meeting some fabulous people. If I missed the first train, there’s was always another. I even tackled driving in Italy on my own!
Specialised tours that are based on an personal interests are a great way to make your first foray into travelling, especially to a country that you may not be confident about visiting on your own. A photography tour to Jordan gave me a group of lifelong friends as well as great memories of a wonderful country. The insight travel gives to other cultures in the countries I have visited has been rewarding as well.
Today my husband and I have retired and we travel as often as we can. We spent most of 2013/14 in Europe, traveling slowly, sharing the decisions…but not the driving! It was a wonderful couple of years that we hope to repeat in the not too distant future. Travel has opened up so many fabulous adventures for us, both on our own and together and given us some of our best memories.
Betsy Wuebker – Passing Thru
I believe that travel empowers women because it teaches reliance, sparks curiosity, enables learning and understanding, and proves competence.
Invariably, there will be a glitch, a situation you wouldn’t have chosen to be in. The choice is to get yourself out of it successfully or wait around for someone else to take care of you with varying levels of probability.
Years ago, I took my 12 year old daughter to Europe, just the two of us. I wanted to travel with her before she didn’t want to be seen with me in public. We got off at the wrong train station in Germany and missed a high speed train back to Paris.
Instead, we had to problem solve by taking local trains.
She learned resilience and problem-solving, which empower her now as an adult. She learned there’s a big, crazy world out there and we’re part of it all.
Travel has empowered me in my world view and my personal responsibilities. It has taught me we are part of something far larger than we could ever imagine, that the world is wonderful, that people are people everywhere.
Now that my husband and I are full-time travelers, I’ve confronted my worst fears – that I would wind up homeless. The Universe has delivered me homelessness on a silver platter, an amazing gift.
The secret to success is simply to begin.
Today Lifestylers, I’d like to challenge you to get out and about – in your own neighbourhood, take a bus somewhere you’ve never been, or if you can book a flight to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, book a cruise or pack the car up next weekend and go on a road trip.
For hotel comparisons and to find the best deals I recommend Hotels Combined.
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Lovely Linda Fairbairn from Journey Jottings has given me some of her gorgeous Map Journals and Mail-It Maps to giveaway. Linda has produced a range of travel memory products for highlighting your holiday adventures. Map Journals for personal reminiscing, Mail-It Maps for keeping family and friends posted and quirky puzzle postcards, map magnets and notebooks.
“I founded Journey Jottings in 2003 when I realised how great it would be to combine a map with a journal for recording travel memories so set-to drawing the pictorial map by hand in pen and ink, which I tinted with watercolours.”
You can find out more at Journey Jottings.
To enter, in the comments section below, write a limerick about an unforgettable travel experience you’ve had.
Entries close on 10th May 2016, 5pm, Perth Australia time.
Further entry conditions can be found here … Entry Conditions
10th May 2016 : This competition is now closed. Well done to Jan and Jenny who have been notified by email.