Being a ‘late bloomer’

Being a ‘late bloomer’

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I haven’t always loved travelling.

There, I’ve said it.

Saying something like this must seem pretty odd. Surely, as someone who has his own travel blog, and who will freely admit to anyone who listens that travel is his favourite thing in the world to the extent he plans his calendar/life in general around it, I’ve always loved travelling?

To add to this, I was fortunate to be brought up by a family who, once I’d got to the age of four, tended to take me overseas once a year or so. Indeed, I credit this – and am grateful to my parents – for instilling me with an intrinsic, instinctive love of travelling. If they hadn’t, I probably would never have an interest in travelling at all.

But I guess that, at the same time, it also had a detrimental effect on my desire to travel in the short term. Because you see, I was associating travel in my mind with doing things on their terms. I was associating it with package tours, endless rounds of museums/art galleries and the countries they wanted to visit.

It’s a curious contradiction, as I realise that last paragraph suggests that I’m actually ungrateful and even resentful. But it’s precisely because it’s such a complex issue that I spent much of my twenties shunning travelling (beyond the occasional short trip overseas) for the more conventional route of career development and the like.

When did things change? That would have to be when, several years ago, I spent a month volunteering in Uganda. I don’t want to go in to my reasons behind why I signed up to volunteer here (that’s another blog post in itself), but suffice to say it opened my eyes and mind to a very different way of travelling, and the different possibilities that lie therein.

Now, I’m sure that anyone who has undergone a similar transformative experience at a much younger age – the classic ‘gap year’ in one’s late teens/early twenties, say – whilst on the road will tell you that as much happened for them. And I don’t deny it. But for me, I’m glad I fell in love with travelling at a later age.

Quite simply, I don’t think I was mature enough when I was in my early to mid-twenties to have got as much out of my experience as I did aged 30. Sure, I was one of the older volunteers in Uganda, and I’m not claiming that it’s not possible to be profoundly affected when you are in your early twenties. Far from it – there are people in their early twenties who are wiser and more mature than those of my age, that’s for sure.

But from my point of view, I did not have the life experiences and sense of independence aged, say, 25 to then inform how I reacted to, reflected on and moved forward from a month spent out of my comfort zone in Uganda. Which is why I tend to react to these memes with ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’ or some other similar ‘just go travelling’ type message with a bit of scepticism. Because not everyone is at a point in their life where it would necessarily be beneficial to them.

Again, I want to stress that travel can be a wonderful thing for people of all ages. I’m certainly not one of those grumpy older travellers who grumbles how ‘travel is wasted on the young’. For one thing, I’ve led and continued to lead a project that provides 14-18 year olds with an expeditionary/humanitarian experience in Tanzania, with precisely the outcome of their personal development in mind. I also know that the ‘gap yah’ stereotype can be as misleading as much as it has a more than a small grain of truth in it.

But I also want to stress that it’s never too late to start either. I’ve met people decades older than me who are travelling extensively and acknowledge they are fortunate to be able to do so. Which, I suppose, is what it all boils down to. OK so if I’d been ready to travel extensively in my early twenties then that would have been great. But I don’t regret not starting until my thirties at all. I’m happy with being a ‘late developer’; and others who are in the same boat, I would like to think, can see the benefits too.

18 Comments

  • Wandermust mummy

    May 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm Reply

    I’m glad we embraced travel in our 20s and 30s rather than be gap yearers
    Wandermust mummy recently posted…Ramadan Qatar – Your Essential GuideMy Profile

    • Joe

      May 22, 2017 at 6:02 pm Reply

      Presumably for similar reasons to me? If not, would love to hear what your reasons are 🙂

  • Christine K

    May 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm Reply

    You make some really good points here. That you probably focused more on other things that traveling because your youthful travel experiences didn’t build any need to travel more. How wonderful that you started traveling again and that your volunteer work triggered the desire to do it again. Really enjoyed the read and I agree, it’s almost never too late to get out there and see the world.
    Christine K recently posted…5 Journeys on My Train Travel Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Joe

      May 22, 2017 at 6:04 pm Reply

      Thank you Christine. Yes, I really do have my volunteer experience to than for reawakening my wanderlust – thank goodness I did! Glad you enjoyed the read and amen to your last statement 🙂

  • neha

    May 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm Reply

    Such an insight and I have got to agree with it. Even I enjoyed traveling but simply didn’t have the resources or means to travel when I was a teen. So started way beyond that phase. Sometimes I feel I missed that..but your article is so encouraging 🙂

    • Joe

      May 23, 2017 at 6:28 pm Reply

      Yeah, get what you’re saying, and none of us should ever forget that not everyone is fortunate enough to gave the resources or means to travel. But better late than never, as they say 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    May 24, 2017 at 2:41 am Reply

    Ah! an amazing post with the words of inspiration, yes, it’s never too late to start. I had started off as a traveler and explorer with my husband. It’s a true experience to let the other cultures know who you are and teach us the way other people live.
    Sandy N Vyjay recently posted…Why we cried at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, RwandaMy Profile

    • Joe

      May 24, 2017 at 6:21 am Reply

      Thank you 🙂 Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments.

  • Harshad Audichya

    May 29, 2017 at 1:05 pm Reply

    Joe.. Amazing story.. Taj Mahal.. Wow! It feels lucky of you to have that kinda parents

    • Joe

      May 29, 2017 at 1:15 pm Reply

      Yes I am fortunate indeed. But the Taj Mahal is something I visited on my own, and only a couple of years ago. Definitely a highlight from my travels, though! 🙂

  • Flunkingmonkey

    May 30, 2017 at 9:50 pm Reply

    I love your developing story about travel! It’s great getting an insight into what brought people into travel. My Dad is actually from Uganda, I hope to go there one day.

    -@FlunkingMonkey

    • Joe

      May 31, 2017 at 7:18 am Reply

      I hope you do too! It’s a beautiful country with wonderful people 🙂

  • Suma Shah

    May 31, 2017 at 5:00 am Reply

    Such an inspiring post! I agree with you on having no limits on age when it comes to travelling. Early or late, one must always follow their heart and pursue the passion.

    • Joe

      May 31, 2017 at 7:19 am Reply

      Absolutely! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Alex

    May 31, 2017 at 8:41 pm Reply

    I really like this article. I agree that it’s never too late. For anything. Good luck with all your travels!

    • Joe

      June 1, 2017 at 7:11 am Reply

      Thanks Alex 🙂

  • Claire

    June 20, 2017 at 5:50 am Reply

    I was exactly the same Joe! I didn’t get in to travel until after a breakup (I know such a cliche!) back in 2012. I feel like I’ve got a lot of making up to do but like you I’m grateful I developed a love for travel at a later age. I didn’t take a big backpacking trip until I was 28 and I was watching some of those 18yr olds in the few party hostels I stayed in thinking “you’re wasting this opportunity!” I’m pretty sure some never left the hostel!
    Claire recently posted…Tips for Traveling as a Couple from Experienced Travel CouplesMy Profile

    • Joe

      June 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm Reply

      Hey Claire! Yeah, know what you mean – getting drunk in the hostel every night seems a bit daft to me. But hey, each to their own, and cliched or not, your experience goes to show that good things can indeed come out of apparently bad ones…which in itself is a cliche 😉

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