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“My goal is to visit 50 countries before I’m 30!”  the young woman declared.

“How old are you now?” I asked.

“23”, she responded, “and I’ve already done 19.” 

I didn’t know whether to feel jealous or merely ancient. At that moment, I felt both. 

I was in the travel writing section of a bookstore. A young woman employee had seen my lost expression at the stacks and asked if I needed help. This was her ‘favourite section’ the girl shared, as she located the perfect book for me, and we struck up a conversation about our shared love for travel. She ‘had the bug’ she admitted and was working to save enough for a year or so of travel…first across Russia by train, and then into Indonesia and possibly Australia.

As we talked, our generation gap closed and I realized she was doing exactly the kind of thing I had done when I was 23; she just had a few more countries under her belt. What I knew – and she didn’t – was that life has a tendency to interrupt those best laid plans, for really good, really wonderful reasons, and she might miss that 50-countries-by-30 goal.

That’s the beauty of having the perspective, or wisdom, or patience, that comes with being older. I know one important thing about travelling: unless you’re on a reality show, it isn’t a race. And just because I am over 50 doesn’t mean I’ve been left behind. After all, if 40 is the new 30, then 50 is the new 35. I’m actually catching up!

And I still have miles to go before I sleep.

Jane with Hat Tanzania

Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.

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