Traveling with Parents as a Gen-Y Wanderer

by Alex Schnee
( October 24th, 2014 )

Parents Travel Iceland

I must admit, most the time I choose to travel alone. I think there are certain trips that require certain kinds of companionship, and the older I get, the more I find myself craving experiences on my own. Writers by nature are usually pretty solitary—and the interesting thing about travel is that even though you are almost always surrounded by other people on your journey, it can be isolating (sometimes that isolation is welcoming, sometimes not so much).

I had been planning on heading to Iceland on my own originally. I had booked my solo plane ticket and I had started preparing some research about which hostels I would have had to bunk down at the week I was planning on being there. But when my father expressed interest in coming along, I had to reassess what kind of trip I wanted this to be. My dad and I had long ago made the pact that we were going to see the Northern Lights together—it was something that had always captured our imaginations, and a good majority of my childhood summers were spent staring up at the cold, dark Montana sky in fascination.

So, Dad and I agreed to go to Iceland together. Let me just say, the older your parents get, the harder it is to travel with them. My father is still quite young (let’s ambiguously say in his mid-fifties), so I didn’t have to worry about any serious former injuries or the chance that something health-related might happen—or it was less likely to happen, anyway. However, it turned out to be a very different trip than one I would have ventured on my own.

No hostels! No hoofing it! 4-star meals and tours—all something I will probably never be able to afford again when I travel. We were able to have experiences that I never could have treated myself to even if I wanted. It may sound selfish, but to be honest, sometimes I resented it. There were a few nagging thoughts in the back of my mind such as, ‘You’re not truly experiencing the trip how you wanted to’ or ‘You didn’t come here to relax—you came here to climb some mountains!’

But that wasn’t the point. The moment I decided to include my dad on this adventure, it became another kind of one. And I’m proud to say that my dad is awesome, and we did end up scaling some mountains and hiking through some lava tubes. By accepting the reality that things were going to be a little bit different, I was able to enjoy this trip for what it was: a 4-star experience I will probably never have again.

So thanks, Dad.

And the Northern Lights? Pretty beautiful.

Have you ever traveled with your parents?

Picture is of Dad and me in some lava tubes. I was definitely more sore after climbing than he was!

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Gaining a New Perspective on Body Image While Traveling

by Alex Schnee
( October 21st, 2014 )

Body Image Traveling

When you are a woman traveler, it’s almost impossible not to be a bit aware about body image. In the States, our culture is obsessed with it—it’s impossible to escape the constant bombardment of advertisements and diet trends. We have a very specific way we should look in America, and unless you are 5’9” and ninety pounds (neither of which many women are), you are going to fall short of expectations.

One of my favorite things about travel is that it opens up your mind and allows you to think in a new way. I love visiting new places and noticing different trends, and how alternative cultures see body image is definitely something that I have noticed on various journeys. I’ve enjoyed being in Reykjavik the past few days and seeing the variety of shapes and sizes women are here. There seems to be more of an acceptance of all types—whether you’re 5’9” or 5’2” and no matter what your number on the scale is.

I remember arriving in Greece and being amazed to see that the general definition of beauty was extremely different from the one we have in the States. I would categorize the majority of the women I saw there as “healthy”—and you could tell that they loved to eat. (According to the friend I made in Greece, Helen, the national pastime of the country is eating. Rightly so—everything I had there was incredibly delicious.) We’ve created almost an impossible ideal in America; even the women they use for modeling have been photo-shopped and caked in makeup so they are unrecognizable, and most are starving themselves or dieting.

As someone who has struggled with body image since teenager-hood, traveling has done more for me than offer comparisons between cultures. It’s also allowed me to realize that my 5’2” and slightly over ninety pounds (okay, definitely more than slightly) body is perfectly healthy and normal. I’ve started to love the fact that I am strong enough to climb mountains and that I don’t have to beat myself up for having another slice of perfect pizza in Venice.

No body is perfect, and every place and every person has a definition about what they think is the best. Iceland made me more aware of what my body allows me to do rather than what it looks like.

How about you? Has travel opened your eyes to body image? Made you more self-conscious?

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Enjoying the Moment: Living in the Present as a Twenty-Something Traveler

by Alex Schnee
( October 16th, 2014 )

Enjoying the Present while Traveling

If you’re like most Generation-Y travelers, you probably have a travel bucket list a mile long. I know I certainly do, and deciding which places to go and which to skip for now can be a lot harder than one might think. I find myself overwhelmed by all the locations I have yet to go—and knowing that I won’t get to all of them in my lifetime is something I have to recognize.

I also can’t help but instantly plan my next trip while I’m already on one. There’s something about being on a journey that perpetuates the desire for another when you are addicted to travel. My mind begins to wander to Japan and Peru and Australia all in a matter of a few seconds. But as with any healthy addiction (if there is one, travel is it), knowing when to stop and enjoy the moment can take some self-reflection and acknowledgment of the opportunity you have been given.

This has been on my mind of late now that I am in Reykjavik, Iceland. I have been planning this trip for months, and I’m trying to enjoy the experience as much as possible—realistically, I doubt I’ll ever make it back unless I have a layover. It’s required me to slow down a bit and to think not of how many likes I can get on my Facebook pictures, but what I want to remember the most about a journey like this.

I want to remember stretching out of my comfort zone to a new location on this planet I would have never imagined seeing. I want to remember that as a pescatarian, I tried minke whale and was surprised how morally okay I was with it. Also, I never want to forget how divine the coffee is here, both in scent and taste. Travel is, in an essence, enjoying the present moment to the fullest extent possible. It’s about inserting yourself into the uncomfortable, or the new, or the unexpected on purpose—because those are the moments you will remember the most when you have forgotten almost everything else.

I think we try and accomplish that as Generation-Y travelers, but we can always put the phone down a little bit more and think about the rest of the world a little bit less.

What do you think? Do you think we as travelers appreciate our experiences enough? Is it possible to as connected as we are with social media and technology?

Image courtesy of Brandon Satterwhite.

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