Age is no barrier to life-changing travel experiences and gap adventures for all ages. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, travelling has the ability to enrich your life in more ways than one. Here are stories from three generations of women whose travels have had a positive effect on career, family and self image.
Shaping the future – Gen Y
While many Gen Y women have a preference for travelling to Asia, Europe, America or the Pacific, Laura McKay (in her 20s) from Kingaroy, Queensland, loves venturing off the beaten track. The English and drama teacher has tacked mountain gorillas in Uganda, swum with sea lions in the Galapagos Island and been on a wildlife safari in Kenya. But trekking the Inca Trail in Peru was a personal challenge for McKay who suffers from asthma. She nearly gave up on the first day.
“I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it. They tell you it’s the easy day. When I got to the campsite that night I thought there’s no way I could do another three days of this,” says McKay.
McKay rose to the challenge and discovered that she could achieve anything she set her mind to do. On an earlier trip to Africa, the experience of visiting an orphanage helped steer the direction of her career by challenging her perspective on teaching. She had always planned to teach gifted children in elite private schools but after visiting Africa she has become passionate about making a difference to children in the public school system.
“One of the things that really changed me in Africa was going to orphanages and seeing kids who had nothing but were so happy.”
Bringing up children – Gen X
Karyn Lombardi (in her 40s), a payroll administrator from South Australia, and her husband Cos were apprehensive about travelling overseas with two young children. The family holidayed on the Gold Coast with their daughters Claudia and Olivia four times before they took the plunge and booked a vacation to Fiji.
“I didn’t realise how easily kids adapt. We tend to worry about the weather or the food but they take whatever you give them,” says Karyn Lombardi.
Fiji was a culture shock to the Lombardi children who were stunned that the local children didn’t have toys, iPods or computer games. While on holiday in the past, in Vanuatu they visited a local school where Claudia and Olivia saw classrooms without computers and whiteboards. They visited homes where families slept on the floor.
“Holidaying abroad has changed my girls. They kept commenting on how these people had no furniture yet everyone was smiling. They wanted to know why people at home don’t smile at you in the same way.”
Lombardi says travelling has broadened her children’s attitudes. “My girls now take an interest in other cultures and countries. They’re more willing to try different types of food,” says Lombardi.
Earlier this year, the girls donated bags of their toys to the children affected by the Queensland floods. Lombardi says her daughters would never have given away any of their toys before their overseas experiences.
“It made them less selfish, a lot more compassionate and less self-centred.”
New priorities – boomer
Years of juggling a successful career as a psychologist, bringing up three children, looking after two grandchildren and mother-in-law meant that Lyn Quayle (in her 60s) had little time left for herself.
“I was 20 kg overweight and had been so for 20 years,” says Lyn Quayle.
A friend persuaded Quayle to join her on an all-women’s group trek in Nepal. The idea of a Nepal adventure re-ignited forgotten dreams within Quayle.
“I kind of always thought that I’d be an archaeologist or explore jungles but just hadn’t got around to doing anything about it.”
With only six weeks to go before the trek, Quayle had a big decision to make.
“On my first training walk I nearly died. I couldn’t walk more than 15 minutes uphill. I had to ask myself whether I was going to give up or create a miracle and be fit enough. “As soon as I decided to give it a go, the lights turned on. I gave away the self pity. I’d walk everyday and became addicted to walking.”
Meeting the challenge of trekking in Nepal has prompted Quayle to re-examine her priorities in life. She lost 10kg and feels like a new woman. These days, a 1.5-hr daily walk around hilly Hobart takes precedence over housework.
“I feel like I’ve been asleep for 20 years slogging away on automatic pilot. Now, I see everything differently. I feel validated that I was able to establish my self-identity as an adventurer,” says Quayle.