The Aging Travelers We Be

As we flew into Rio…

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I am pretty sure Fernando and I think that he is the more agile and adaptable of the two of us. Maybe it is a gender thing, or he is just super minimalist (i.e. he can travel with just 2 pairs of underwear – that is for another post). I don't think I am a high maintenance girl, but that is all relative anyways, but I do think that aging has an affect on one's adaptability and agility.

In this post, I'd like to share somethings we have either: 1) noticed more during this trip, 2) because we are a bit rusty after not traveling in more than 1 year, or 3) just because we are getting older (I know that using the phrase “getting older” or “becoming aged” might garner some sneers from readers that are actually older than us, but it is a fact we can't deny, we are actually getting older with each passing year).

  • Adjusting. It takes longer to adjust, or we have a harder time of adjusting to new sleeping environments (beds, pillows at least for me, noise levels), jetlag, and new food and water.
  • Affects to Skin. We are all better now that we've slowed our pace in Brasil, but we had breakouts in Peru. The new environment made us breakout and I was using more acne medication! I am happy to report it is much better now – could be the beach and relaxation of Rio, I don't know.
  • Motivation and Ambition. These two things are always seen as positive, but I don't mean it in a negative way in the context of traveling. 7 years ago, during our first trip to Europe, we got up at 8 am and left the hotel shortly after a quick breakfast to see all we could of Barcelona (our first stop). We wouldn't return until 10 pm daily. What the…? We are not as ambitious these days, take it easier, slowing down, and don't see it as a total loss if we don't see the each site that the guide books tell us we must see.
  • Pushing your Limit Takes a Toll. We started this trip pretty fast and furious – with multiple flights, staying 1 night, then 2, then 1 more in the Sacred Valley Region, with a big hike up Machu Picchu… that is rough. Thank goodness we made it through and enjoyed the experience while we were living it – we are grateful for that. We paid for all that later, with headaches, a major migraine (for me), digestive irregularities (sorry T.M.I.), not sleeping well. The high altitude was a major culprit too.
  • Getting Dusty and Rusty. As I mentioned, we haven't traveled in over 1 year which I know sounds ridiculous to some, but it is all relative. We need to travel more than “normal” being the wanderlusts that we are. Plus, we've aged in that time, by 1 year. This combination made us a bit rusty when we did hit the world out there. For one, as you get older, you gain fear for the unknown and unfamiliar, “fear with age” I will call it. Plus, we've heard and read the articles about recent violence regarding transportation on local buses/vans (in Delhi and Rio), which adds to that fear, “fear with information.” So, this builds anxiety and some nervousness when we are actually riding transportation, for instance. This double fear is carried with us here in Rio (which has its own reputation), as we find ourselves a bit wary of going out late at night – are we missing out on experiences? Do we have something to actually fear or is it just in our heads? Some will say yes, like Fernando's Paulista family. In a way, the tension is palpable. I can see how all this gets aggregated and prevents people from traveling – the unknown, the fear, the potential dangers, the unfamilar foods, discomfort, flying coach, culture, practices…we can't let that stop us from experiencing the world and living. The antidote, given that we can't stop aging or obtaining negative information, is to keep traveling and do it frequently, not get too dusty and rusty.

With age and rich experience, there are of course lots of positives too:

 

  • Perspective. Instead of rushing out to see that or this, we can just take a breath and observe. We have a better handle of the big picture of traveling. It is not about marking this site or that off, it is about taking it all in and gaining those rich experiences. It is about getting a better grasp of the world out there, and enlarging our World View, symbolically and literally.
  • Greater Efficiency. Given that we've traveled a bit, and we are still always learning, but have a good handle of how to travel better and easier. We have packed much better this trip, and can unpack in repack in a matter of 15 minutes, particularly thanks to our eBag Packing Cubes :) It feels good to be so efficient, at least at that. Traveling lighter is better for the body (particularly for our backs) and mind (its faster, you have less stuff to worry about). We don't envy folks in the long check-in line at the airport or that have to lug around 50 lb.+ suitcases around town, up and downstairs – we've been there and done that!
  • Better Tools. We have tools and apps to make our lives easier when traveling. Fernando is of course the master of mobile apps on Team Suzando, aka the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – I'm the CEO. He uses TripIt.com to aggregate our itinerary – so it is available as 1 print out with all our hotels, flights, and dates, or better yet a PDF on our iPad via Kindle. I don't have a laptop during this trip, and am typing right now on an ultra-thin bluetooth keyboard to blog using the iPad, listening to music on Spotify (works abroad), and using the app Blogsy (that the CTO found for me) to do our posts. I did bring my DSLR but find it bulky plus I don't want to call out that I am a tourist, so all our images have been captured and shared with you through my Nexus 4 Google phone (review: camera takes create pictures in natural bright light, not too good indoors or at night, but has amazing photo editing tools – my secret). I also draft and post images for the blog using my phone, using the WordPress app. We used the LA Public Library's electronic media resources to: download PDF travel guides (latest edition of Fodors for Brasil and Lonely Planet for Peru); get Mango languages so I can do my languages lessons in basic Brazilian Portuguese to prepare to interact with Fernando's family – wish me luck; and check out some e-books — all for free!
  • Frequent Flyer's Perks. Fernando is the king of maximizing our credit card points, signing up for new amazing offers (he screeched last night after finding and getting a new card that gave us 70,000 AMEX miles). We were able to plan most of this 5-week trip using miles to get our flights. Subletting our apartment helped with costs. Renting a studio via Airbnb.com is more economical and realistic to stay in Rio de Janeiro (one of the most expensive cities in South America) for 2 weeks. This is efficiency andknowledge we've gained with traveling and our passion for it.

Despite flying coach (particulary after experiencing Business Class) and all the discomforts of traveling to new places (compared the comfort of our own home), we still love it! Vicki asked me what I love best about our trip. I'd have to stay getting away (I haven't managed my Google Calendar once while here which I would do daily up to several times per day) and observing local life.

 

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