A couple days ago, our family invited my grandmother on a road trip across BC and Alberta. Knowing that she doesn’t like to fly, we thought a slow-paced trip with four hours of driving per day and plenty of time to relax on the way to Banff would be the perfect trip. It didn’t take much time for her to decline our offer. My grandma, along with my late grandpa, were small business owners for most of their life, leaving them with little chance to travel. In addition, increasing health concerns, a familiarity with sleeping at home, reluctance towards change, and many other factors made travelling an undesirable activity. It is very much her choice and I find it regrettable that she doesn’t travel when she has the time and strength to do so. However, it is very much her choice.
This episode got me thinking again about how different generations tend to have different perspectives on travel. My grandmother would only travel to Hong Kong, China, and select states in the United States, and only under our coaxing. My parents are a step closer to adventure and travel very often, but normally to places that they love to visit like Hawaii or the Caribbean. They are comfortable with resorts, hotel suites, and cruises. They travel to explore, but also in a controlled environment. Now for the youngest generation. With reasonably affordable airfare prices and new technology like AirBnB and Couchsurfing, it is very possible to frequently escape to a foreign destination, and I feel like many have done just that.
For example, in my grandfather’s generation, a trip from Asia to North America was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that relocated our family. Travel to a culture so foreign was a shock that took tens of years to assimilate and feel comfortable. Even in my parent’s generation, a trip outside the continent was very rare. Graduation trips tended to be road trips to destinations that were reachable by car, offering exposure to a slightly different culture, but nothing extraordinary. It would be unheard of for youth of my parent’s generation to forgo their financial stability to jet off on a trip halfway around the world.
The youngest generation tends to travel more, and it is hardly a comparison. Based on a number of factors including a financial stability afforded by older generations, cultural norms that support learning of other cultures, and a globalization of business, travel has become a pastime that is enjoyed by more youth. When something like travel blogging has become a profitable business, you start to realize the vast differences between now and fifty years ago. My grandparents embarked on a boat to cross the Pacific to a relative unknown. All they had was the address of one family friend and no guarantee that they could provide help. I could find more information about any place in this world in under a minute than they had when moving their whole lives over the sea.
So then, when should you travel? Travel young, travel old. Travel on a budget. Travel in luxury. Try travelling in any way imaginable and figure out what brings you the most joy. There is no better time than to learn your travel habits than in your youth. Unlike other generations, we have a great opportunity to learn about this world first-hand. There are a number of places that I would like to visit that may not be there when I am older.
Sometimes it may seem frightening to travel; living in a developed country, we are shielded from much of the dangers in other countries. We are aware of fights happening in places we could reach within a day, yet unaware of the difficulties those people face. I strongly believe that there will always be danger in the world, but that should not be a deterrent to travel. There are areas that are currently more dangerous, and those areas are ones that I would leave to a later time. However, it is also important to travel when the opportunity affords you. Recently, a giant sequoia tree that contained an opening for cars to pass through, the “Pioneer Cabin Tree”, collapsed in California. The iconic tree was over 1000 years old and suddenly dropped in the last storm. With the fall of the Pioneer Cabin Tree, I felt that it just reinforced the idea that we should explore the world sooner rather than later.