Without looking in a mirror, how old do you think you are? Ignoring the guffaws and those who feel the need to correct me, 60 is the new 35 and I have a lot of living to do.
My achy knees are merely a reminder that I better get moving. My story is far from finished and I have many chapters to write.
"I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” –Diane Ackerman (author of the bestselling book, The Zookeeper's Wife)
Some people believe Bucket List is an overused phrase. Call it what you will but it translates into a lifetime of hopes and dreams, and checking them off one by one is a whole lot of fun. Bucket Lists are about accomplishments, family and friends who are excited to travel together, and people and creatures you are just aching to meet along the way. So, now that we are over 55, maybe 65 or even 85, what is still waiting on your list to be checked off?
How do you convince a sedentary senior that exploring the world will make them grow young again? Perhaps my mother’s example will help. Betty is chronologically 94.
Having just completed a tour of the Yukon, she has informed me we must now begin research on a trip to Forres, one of Scotland’s oldest small towns. Over 70 years ago, a heavily pregnant Betty was a passenger on a convoy travelling the treacherous journey across the Atlantic from Canada to Britain during WWII. She was travelling to Forres, Morayshire to join my father who was stationed there. This is the town where my oldest brother was born and it appears, after working with the magical Google Earth, the hotel and hospital still exist and are accepting guests and patients respectively. We still have time. Death is far too busy picking off the old, and Betty isn’t on its radar.
I read the odds of your being born in this particular time and place are about 1 in 400,000,000,000. Can you imagine? Your life is a gift and it would be an insult to one’s self to waste it. What do you intend to do with the balance of it? So many surprises await those who peek behind the curtains where others dare not go, strangers to laugh and debate with over wine-soaked topics, art and architecture yet to be admired and studied, and animals who will win your hearts on their turf.
* Take a grandchild to Africa and give them the present of adopting a cheetah at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.
* Ballroom anyone? If you love to dance, learn to rumba, tango or simply waltz the night away on a cruise ship. Oh yes, some luxury cruise lines will even provide you with a gentlemen of a certain age to be your partner.
* Love horses? Travel to Lexington, Kentucky to visit the farms of the champions or perhaps drop in at a horse rescue.
* Watch the winter storms roll in or be spellbound as 20,000 Pacific Gray Whales migrate from Baja to Alaska at the magnificent Wickaninnish Inn, Vancouver Island.
* Remember the days when passenger trains were elegant and you were treated like royalty? That experience still exists on Belmond’s Royal Scotsman, Grand Hibernian and the exotic Orient Express.
* Fly into Churchill, Manitoba to marvel at the polar bears from a mere heart-pounding few feet away.
* Tee off in the company of your son or daughter on the Old Course St Andrews, Scotland.
* Take your sketch pad or camera with you while wandering the gardens and landscapes that inspired Monet.
“I’ll do it someday gets pretty old. Literally! Before you know it, you are old and you still haven’t done it.” –W.K. Edwardson
Why settle year after year for that timeshare in Palm Springs, the condo in Hawaii or quaint Maritime cottage? I know it’s easier and, as the years slip by, we tend to gravitate to things that demand little of us. It’s called getting old. You don’t have to be concerned with where to buy necessities, getting lost, converting currency and of course paying those exorbitant travel insurance premiums. You stay within your comfort zone and avoid the dreaded, “what ifs….”
But what if I tell you…
If you can climb into a Zodiac with the help of three able-bodied crew, you can explore the Polar Regions; if you are not too proud to be carried by four strong men on a handheld litter, you can visit the gorillas of Uganda; if you can step down from a train to be greeted by waiting guides, you can explore Europe in style; and if you need supplies or help on a cruise ship, hosts are employed to sort it out for you.
Life is meant to be messy and where the seeds of stories are born! Five years from now, Grandma getting lost on the Isle of Skye will be a family treasure to be told over and over.
"Fear is a waste of time. I am a great believer in fate. It will take me when and where it chooses. Until then, it will have to chase me as I intend to run very fast." –W.K. Edwardson
Multigenerational and group travel is at the top of the travel industry’s list. Catering to the Baby Boomers and their extended families is big business. In other words, they will bend over backwards to make your three-generations happy in that Los Cabos villa rental you ordered.
So what gets your heart beating? Your next adventure may bring joys you could only imagine. Blow the dust off your Bucket List and begin your next chapter. Have an open mind and heart, and declare: I have a will and there is always a way. Let a travel professional handle the what ifs and make up your mind to just go!
W.K. Edwardson is a luxury travel specialist, late bloomer, Canadian Air Force brat, animal activist, fearless line-crosser with an insatiable curiosity for peeking behind the curtain to discover what lies within.
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