Today I turned 44. To my occasional disappointment, time has marched on. I like to think I am only a thin baloney slice more than what I used to be. Really, I don’t feel that old, but my tastes have changed. I have become a step slower and probably need glasses. I have evolved. However, I remember back in the day.
As a traveler, I lugged around that rucksack with all those international flag patches on it everywhere I went. I shared bagettes with other travelers and ordered extra butter to save money (one bagette and four plates, por favor). I slept on the floor of train stations and the bunk beds of youth hostels. I carried my own toilet paper and cans of sardines – just in case. Travel still happens after forty, but things have changed.
The game of seeing how little I can eat in order to save money will never happen again. I have learned that fine dining has its place and I want to make sure I have a variety of locale faire. I still shop at local markets and buy food from side of the road push carts.
I know there are some spectacular youth hostels. However, my last dorm-style youth hostel stay was in Reykjavik Iceland. I slept in the top bunk and was awoken by an 18 year-old student who was urinating on the 72 year-old-backpacker sleeping below me. I vowed never to rest in a dorm room again.
I finally have a big-boy bag. I call it luggage. It has wheels. I leave it in my hotel room and unpack it. Although, I still never check it at the airport
I am much more will to take my time, but less willing to take my time on the slowest option from getting from one place to another. I think I once took a train that was pulled by a mule instead of the ultra sleek bullet train in order to save $9.
On my first backpacking trip ever. I arrived in London without a place to stay and never once made reservation. Now, I call ahead.
Of course all of this has to do with money and how I choose to spend it. I know that if pressed I can live quite happily on next to nothing. I am proud of that fact and have proved it many times. However, I have also learned that travel and adventure can take many forms. I look forward to even more of the second half. The old rucksack will go to my daughter who may one day want to see beyond her own back yard.