My daughter and her boyfriend are leaving for Scandinavia tomorrow. They are typical of their generation in that they love travel and adventure. The more the better is their motto. They have scrimped and saved for a year, booking Airbnbs months in advance and paying for smaller flights as they earned their money. As seasoned travellers, they are well-organised and have a knack for finding stunning places off the tourist track. Each of their days is accounted for, but they have left enough time to be immersed in nature wherever they go.
There are certainly similarities with how I used to travel in my twenties: bags packed at the last minute, doing things on the cheap, not worrying about getting sick or having an accident on the way. I comfort myself with the knowledge that they have mobile phones and that bank transfers are almost instantaneous. Today I gave them a last-minute present; four Apple Airtags in case their luggage gets lost. These are all advantages I could never have even dreamt of in the 1980s.
I was much less adventuresome than my two jetsetters. But then, I mostly travelled on my own. On my trips I tended to visit relatives, retraced places where I had lived as a child and met up with university friends who were on similar missions. I have mostly travelled to the same five countries time and again, apart from the occasional side trip to uncharted territories. What always drew me to a place were the people I knew there. I slept on friend’s futons on the floor and enjoyed their hospitality which I returned when they visited Australia. This pattern continued for five or six years. I still stay in touch with a handful of these friends and enjoy visiting them, whenever I can manage.
My daughter has gathered friends around the globe too. Like me, she is good at keeping in touch with them. Her friends are more mobile, but it has become much easier to connect with each other. In my twenties, I was sending weekly handwritten Aerograms and had to wait a week or longer for a reply. My happiest days were when a letter or two awaited me in the letterbox. I have kept most of these correspondences and they have become treasured mementos of the past. Technology sure has speeded up communication, but I miss the handwritten letters in the mail.
The young travellers have now departed to begin the first leg of their journey. I am left with my studio filled with their belongings and a much-loved dog to look after. I will miss the long evenings playing board games, the smell of new recipes emanating from the kitchen and the quick-witted repartee between us. Yes, I will miss them, but I am also grateful that they have this opportunity to travel.
Bon voyage and a safe return!