Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Travel young: an old guy traveling young.

I was bitten by the travel bug when I was 25. I loved everything French so I made plans and went to France for 3 weeks. I learned a lot during my trip. I learned not to see the world as a tourist or as an American (Americans have a tendency to compare too much), but instead, to just see the world. I was never able to travel again after that. Life happened and I never gave myself the opportunity to travel once more. I have all my pictures in a plastic box and I take them out every so often and dream.
Walking to Avranche
Now I want to travel again, this time to Spain. But unlike 30 years ago today I have the Internet.

I found dozens of sites and blogs dedicated to travel. From the aggregate flight search engines that can find you the cheapest air fare, to blogs and travel journals dedicated to traveling young. They range in topics from how to pack for a budget trip to how to order tapas or pintxos to how to avoid the latest scams and pick pockets. I know now from my research to pack light. I know how to avoid scams and pick pockets on the Rambla in Barcelona. And I am anxious to practice what I have learned so I can order pintxos and wine in Pamplona. Just a cursory Google search for “travel blogs” will earn you hundreds of excellent web sites. Even if you aren’t traveling you can visit almost every country on earth virtually. 

To get this shot
I noticed that many blogs today are by young people who have decided to pack up and take off. They decided to seek life on their own terms. Many stay abroad for periods of time ranging from several months to a year, or even years. They post beautiful pictures and glamorous descriptions of adventures that I’ve only dreamt about. Well, I want to do that too! But, alas, I am not young any more. My trip to France was almost three decades ago in 1987! But this has not stopped me from dreaming and planning and then dreaming some more. With every blog and vlog (that’s a video blog) I see my wanderlust just keeps growing and I get a little younger. 

I have grappled with the question of my age. Am I too old to travel like I am 25? Should I stick to a tour group and just sit comfortably on the tour bus and watch the scenery roll by like a movie backdrop? 

I think not. 

I started with Google Earth. It was my virtual desk top globe. I planned my route by adding paths and yellow pins. Google earth is an excellent tool for planning a trip. I check the Euro exchange rate several times a day to compare the dollar and cheering every decimal downturn and bemoaning every up turn. I used great online resources to find the cheapest air and train fares. I even found a great resource for very inexpensive accommodations. This I will also document.
The trip is now planned out from where I stay every night to where I eat, in micro detail. I have a spreadsheet with dates and locations and train connections; obsessed? Perhaps I am. But, what I am counting on is the unplanned surprises; the ones that will change everything. The ones I will write about and be the better for. 

I am going strap on a back pack, get a pair of comfortable shoes, pack that back pack as little as possible and maybe even get a selfie stick and a GoPro. Nothing says young like selfie stick and a GoPro!  I am going to head out with train tickets in hand and discover the small, out-of-the-way, hidden gems of small villages in Spain’s Galician, Basque region, and Andalusian country side. But first, of course, I will visit the big cities like Madrid and Barcelona and pay homage to El Greco and Antonio Gaudi. 

I will write about my journey and take as many pictures as I can. I will prove to myself that I can travel on my own terms while still enjoying being an observer. I want to be surprised at every turn, excited by every discovery, and amazed by every beautiful thing I discover. In short, I want to travel young again.


Chris said...

This story of your live is so good - hopefully you can get a new shot of the picture :)

Newcoach said...

Thank you Christoph!

I can't wait to hear of your adventure when you are done

G.J. Aristizabal said...

Wow. Pretty cool how spot on this was to the trips you've been taking. Lol forward to more.