What prompts friends to worry so much about me, am I going bungee jumping off the grand canyon or maybe walking barefoot across hot coals? No, just going on a holiday with a back pack instead of a suitcase. I know! Crazy right?
I get asked this so often, so I thought I’d explain the 5 main reasons I became a backpacker as a 50 year old woman:
1. I couldn’t afford to visit the places I wanted to see any other way
My independent nature has led me to always pay my way. I’ve never been answerable to anyone for my bills and as a single parent money was always tight. My redundancy payment meant I finally had the cash if I managed it right. My bucket list, now called my ‘f**k it’ list, included seeing Uluru in Australia’s Red Centre. I investigated tours OMG not an option! So I looked at flight prices. Hmm, not too bad. I’d used YHA in the UK, so investigated hostels in Australia…looking more accessible now…I planned and planned and planned and guess what I did it! Un- be – lee – va – bull!!
2. I wanted to challenge myself
Why now? I never had a gap year in my youth, they were something hairy university students did. It was the era when only the children of the rich could afford university let alone gap years. So I never got to travel very far afield then. Then came the mortgage, solo, so I had to stay employed or lose my home. This was before career breaks were even thought of let alone suggested. Next I had my daughter. Whilst I did take her camping and occasionally overseas, I had strict timetables of holidays dates from the 9-5 and nurseries etc. Travelling with a pack just didn’t seem possible. Excuses, excuses. I have often chosen the safe option, I did a 9 – 5 office job for years. I worked in a risk environment so often chose the path less bumpy. I don’t regret anything, you do what you have to do to get by, to put on food on the table etc. However life is short, you have to take some risks, I still battle my inner risk manager.
3. I want to be a positive female role model
So move on a few years. I’m married. I’m a grandmother. I’ve been made redundant from my career three times. I know! Who saw any of that coming! My daughter needed to see a woman can do anything if she puts her mind to it. She should get that inspiration from me. She’s a parent herself now. My grand children need to know that granny went to that place on the globe that’s all the way around the other side. They need to see someone standing on top of a volcano. If they don’t see me pushing myself what will motivate them to do the same?
4. I now have the luxury of time
I was determined to make a third redundancy a positive thing. I went through the stages of grief you go through when you lose something so fundamental in your life, it wasn’t easy. I’m a stubborn independent person who refuses to be browbeaten by people. I’m no longer restricted by only being able to take a maximum two week break from work. I’m no longer tied by that ridiculous rule in the UK of being fined if you take your kids out of school to travel (oh, don’t get me started!) I have time to plan. I can spend time checking out the flight prices, reading the travel guides, learning from bloggers who’ve been there, done that. Importantly if you are able to be flexible in your plans you can access much cheaper flights etc.
5. I wanted to be like my Dad
My Dad never went back packing, as far as I know. However on his death bed he told me “I’ve seen everything I want to see. I’ve done everything I want to do” Wow! Awesome, how cool was that. Now there’s a certain point in your life, that sneaks up on you, a voice that says “Blooming heck! I have to do this now before I’m too old to do it, or dead!” That may be when you lose a parent or a friend who’s younger than you. When you lose your job. It can happen when you notice one too many hairs in the wrong place or wrinkles that seem to have appeared in your sleep.When I lost my Dad I had so much to do, so much I wanted to see. I knew I had to start, and start soon. I did not want to get to the pearly gates, or what ever else we see at the end, and think ‘if only’. Anyway, whatever the reason I hope you reach that point sooner rather than later and get out of any rut you’re in. Whilst I miss my family like crazy when I travel Skype and FaceTime mean I can chat with the grand babies at the click of a button from anywhere with wifi (Thank you McDonalds)
So, what possessed me to become a backpacker as a 50 year old woman? Well, the question for me was why wouldn’t I. I love a list, so I sat down and wrote a list of places and things I wanted to see. I’m ticking them off, one by one. I won’t get to them all, that’s the point, it’s an evolving list however I’ve only been backpacking a few years and already have seen more than I ever imagined.
Backpacking is such an obvious choice once you sit down and think about it. If you are in any doubt if you should try it, YES YES and YES you should. Bit scared? Just go for a weekend away, in a hostel with a day pack. Try it! You won’t regret it.
If you want to just go for it full on, my Australia trip may give you some pointers.
Good female travel blogs to check out for more inspiration:
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