Baby Boomers and Millenial Minimalists Unite - Adventures Over Possessions FTW!
It’s not for everyone. I get it. Why spend your hard-earned dollars traipsing along the lush trails and exploring the unmarked exits that begged your curiosity, what’s there behind the Jacaranda and palm trees crowded road on a holiday destination? Some of us would rather spend it on material possessions for their preferred enjoyment like a handbag, shoes, or jewelry. I’m here to say; I get you, and I can appreciate your choice…but I’m choosing the traipsing option for myself and my family. Stay tuned.
I had a conversation yesterday with someone about vacations and why it sometimes made some of us want to move to that location. Let’s name a few, Hawaii, France, or Italy. We both chuckled and agreed that the most obvious reason was that we wanted to be on a perpetual vacation, away from our routined and daily stressful activities while associating personal freedom with these destinations.
To be specific, we take vacations from our daily grinds of getting up at the crack of dawn and begrudgingly driving to work, waiting in line to get our coffee, sitting in traffic, honking at someone who didn’t look up from their phones to see the green light almost changing to yellow. Then, of course, the rushing to work on time to deal with deadlines and work pressure. If you’ve never experienced this, then you are a lucky few who love your jobs and never have to suffer the daily mundane and headaches of a working stiff.
Instead, on vacations, we'd wake up leisurely and have the kids come bouncing to your bed. We'd have time to play with them and make a decent breakfast while sipping coffee with our loved ones, planning the day as the kids played on the floors. We would later stroll down to the sandy beach and sip a drink under the cabana with a paperback in our hand. We'd finally finish the book that’s been sitting on our nightstand for weeks.
It all sounds good, doesn’t it? We keep these memories and want our daily lives to be like this, forever, but the trouble is, we have to get back to work in counting down fashion, six, five, four, three, two, one day. So when we get back home, we plot and dream of how we could move to our holiday locations to achieve this vacation nirvana, but the trouble is, even if we could, we would still be working, not vacationing because most of us are not trustafarians and must work for a living. I know this first hand, and I’ve been guilty of this desire to move to Hawaii, France, and Italy. I know the feeling very well which brings us full circle to why I prefer adventures over possessions.
After the vacation glow faded, it never failed that I would feel grateful and even luxurious to sleep in my own bed again and soaked in all the comfort of home and community, but then invariably, I would scheme for the next adventures.
It's the life experiences and the lessons that I learned from traveling that made me opt for this adventures-over-possessions concept and lifestyle. As baby boomers, my husband and I raised two well-adjusted millennials who are financially independent of us, and we traveled more with them as children than we have since they flew the coop. We focused on family travel and viewed it as an education that no schools could offer. It’s about being connected to the outdoors, learning about geography and navigation, interacting with people, cultures, and how other people lived and solved problems in different countries. In travels, we became self-aware, gained confidence and flexibility in our ability to communicate with others and respecting the natural environment.
We worked with the children’s teachers throughout elementary, junior high and high schools to make up their school work. The kids took their books with them, read, did their homework, and wrote travel journals. We learned about the local customs and cultures, being respectful and observing their traditions, and at a minimum, learned greetings in their languages. We did this while living modestly on one income, one car loan, residing on the employer’s ranch house with no frills, no cables, no status labels, happily accepting hand-me-downs and rare thrift store items.
We backpacked when our firstborn was barely walking, perching atop of my husband’s backpack. My husband caught brown, and rainbow trouts, cooked them over the fires for breakfast, along with ramen, oatmeals with dried fruit and nuts, and black coffee. The air crisp and smelling of pine pitch. The sky so blue and bright, a stark contrast against the pure white cumulus clouds building up in the east. I bundled up our daughter, and we snuggled on a low boulder near the fire in the chilly morning, mesmerized by the dancing and flickering cooking flames, crackling and popping as the resin oozed out from the fresh pine kindling.
When our son was five, right before he started kindergarten, our family drove to Baja with my sister and her newly married husband. We caravanned from Northern California to Mulegé, Baja and back in ten days. We camped along the way, sometimes on a windy beach, most of the times at a sheltered bay under a palapa, or an occasional date palm campground. Not every one of our destinations was as romantic sounding, like our first night in Baja, rolling in late after dark and had to settle for the last spot along a cinderblock wall after a long night of driving.
The most memorable destination was at the sheltered bay in Mulegé. We scooped up handfuls of clams, canoed in clear sandy bottom water but wondrous at nights with the dancing bioluminescent planktons. We creatively concocted meals from some canned food, some fresh from the nearby market, and one special occasion with giant fresh prawns from beach peddler. The kids played on the sand, in the shallow water, and sometimes made believe with a few toys we brought along like little Tonka trucks, and endless hours of amusement from the travel-size checker, tic-tac-toe, cards, and a lot of color pencils and markers.
We camped, backpacked, skied, kayaked, hiked, sailed, and swam in alpine lakes in our beloved Sierra Nevada and the Sacramento River Delta with our kids from their childhood right into their teenage years. During one period of our lives, Sundays were hiking days, no matter where we were. Each kid had their first backpack at seven years old, a tradition that my husband proudly carried on as he fondly remembered his first steel-framed backpack.
When the kids got older, we took our first trip to Europe in 1999, driving around the countrysides for weeks in France and Italy. I bought books on beds and breakfasts and discovered about castle lodgings. I can’t tell you how magical it was to drive from the hustle and bustle of Paris to our first castle bed and breakfast for our first day in Janville. We ate simple bread, croissants, and homemade jams and yogurts, explored the countryside, and moved on to other destinations with equal alluring qualities like the working farms, and Angier in the Loire Valley where my daughter and I rode horses with a local guide through the forest. I was enchanted and thought I might run into a medieval knight and his princess.
We are now empty nesters. Our children are avid hikers and outdoors enthusiasts. They are thoughtful world citizens and respectful of others, here and abroad. They are flexible and comfortable with changes, new customs, and environment. They understand that people around the world are not as fortunate as they are with resources available at their fingertips. They have witnessed different lifestyles and ways to solve problems, not always the American way, and refrained from being ethnocentric, striving to leverage their privilege for the common good.
"Our [adult] children are [now] avid hikers and outdoors enthusiasts. They are thoughtful world citizens and respectful of others, here and abroad. They are flexible and comfortable with changes, new customs, and the environment".
Even though we have sweated bullets at times during our kids' public schools education, in retrospect, I stood by our parenting styles and decisions while fully respecting schooling options that were right for other parents. I volunteered and taught art at their elementary school, chaperoned field trips, was a room mom more times than I can count, and still hung on to be the high school tennis team assistant to the coach, bringing snacks for the growing and hungry kids after school.
Instead of sending them to private schools, we opted for a local honored program that aligned with our values, or HISP (Humanities and International Studies Program). We saved for their college tuitions instead and gave them the intangible advantages and lessons of outdoors and travel. For examples, they learned how to read maps, compass, and be aware of their urban as well as the natural environment. They also learned to be confident spatially, verbally and improving their interpersonal skills when meeting people from different economic and ethnic backgrounds.
"[we] gave them the intangible advantages and lessons of outdoors and travel. For examples, they learned how to read maps, compass, and be aware of their urban as well as the natural environment. They also learned to be confident spatially, verbally and improving their interpersonal skills when meeting people from different economic and ethnic backgrounds."
In closing, I'm pleased that you've stayed this long to read about my travel experiences. I hope that you will consider explorations and their rewards. While I don’t have a closetful of expensive shoes, handbags, and jewelry I’m cherishing our adventure memories and the lessons that they taught all of us, kids and adults. May you find your traveling groove, peace and contentment.
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