Once upon a time, there was only one reason I could really see to travel: to experience new things. To see with my own eyes the Eiffel Tower to be sure it was really there; to eat the deep-fried guinea pig to check if I’d been missing out on something spectacular all my life (I hadn’t). My itineraries were infamous for being packed to the brim with places to see; my preferred mode of travel was of the tasting plate variety rather than the house specialty - why dwell on one country/city/sight when you could dip into 12? This means skimming across the top, admittedly, but at least it rules out the possibility of dying without seeing it all - and there’s always the option to go back, once you have run out of new places to explore.
Nearly two decades on from my very first foreign shores adventure, I’m at absolutely no risk of running out of new places, but sitting here at the airport on my way home from a quick trip to London, I’m ruminating on how travel has changed for me over the years. The thing is that with my 40s undeniably looming, my life (unsurprisingly and for all the right reasons) looks quite different to how it did in my 20s. Some of the people I love most now live in different countries, and they have brought new people into my world - babies, husbands, friends - and so some very compelling, but not adventure based, reasons to travel. Right now, I live in a different country, and an international flight separates me from home and all the people and places that it contains. Aside from those realities, something of the FOMO that formerly accompanied my travel planning has abated (although the thrill of a new place and an impetus to make the most of every travel opportunity remains, and probably always will). Travel is no less exciting now, but it has taken on a new timbre, with other notes, like reunions and introductions to new family members, adding a different melody to the theme songs of my adventures. Once, a week in London would have involved a hit list of experiences and a European side trip; this time, a pub lunch here and an art gallery there were interspersed by breastfeeding breaks for my best friend’s baby. I’m definitely not eschewing the rollicking-adventure-type of trip but this has been a holiday of a completely different kind - and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.