My First Travel Lesson

For those of us who have not grown up with elephants, it seems unbelievable that you can’t hear an elephant approaching you from behind, although as I learned in Cambodia, you might sense it.

In 1998, I had been working in an office for nearly fifteen years. The speed of business was accelerating, as by then a computer was on every desk. The work world was being re-engineered, re-structured, and friends re-deployed, or just booted out. I didn’t see the elephant at that time. Frankly, I wasn’t looking for one on Bay Street. But I sensed something big behind me.

One morning in the line up at Second Cup, I overheard a lawyer talking about making her escape. She was a year away from activating a leave of absence. I was surprised by her positive attitude. Everything was great, the job, the latte, clients, and the weather. I wondered if what I was feeling at the time - exhaustion and a slow melt of enthusiasm - could be similarly addressed by that kind of a big change. So I convinced my employer that my going off the payroll was a good thing. My near-retired husband Dan bought into the plan in a nanosecond and we both started saving vigorously for a future exit.

By the time my leave came due, and Dan had taken an early retirement, I realized that I had spent all of my adult life in an office, beginning well before university graduation. No gap year. No break longer than the usual vacation period. No maternity leave. So when the elephant caught up with me, I got my first travel lesson. He told me, “Take off”.

Ten years later, I continue to travel having taken career decisions to permit more extended travel (read: don't care about the glass ceiling). Dan and I are always learning more about the world and how to observe it without being intrusive, offending people, or judgemental. We're also learning a thing or two about being frugal and traveling light. Such lessons are different for us at our time of life, than for young people travelling in a gap year. I hope you will enjoy the ride on Mature Traveler.