I have been wriggling and writhing. Squirming and stretching. Even been doing a little bit of contortion. But I just can’t quite fit.
Nothing to do with bulging waistlines. I just can’t quite squeeze myself into a pigeon hole. Way too old to be a typical backpacker. Definitely not a grey nomad. Could I be a flashpacker?
These are backpackers who enjoy the odd upmarket escape from roughing it. I’ll confess it sounds plausibly me. Or at least it did until I found an article suggesting flashpackers are generally in their 30s and 40s and not “middle aged”. No longer plausible, actually now impossible.
But it got me wondering. What is middle age? When does it start and when does it terminate? Sorry for the brutal language. There’s a rare old scholarly debate about that one. But for most of us, trying to pin down the middle years is a little like defining beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Some vague research suggested the young often see middle age ending at 55. Yikes. At the other extreme the old tend to believe middle age isn’t over until you’re 70. Good on ’em.
So here I am. I don’t really fit any easy traveller category but I’m definitely rooted in middle age. In a world obsessed with labels and niches I thought it best that I invent my own. So welcome to the world of the NONY – Not Old, Not Young, just somewhere in…...
I live in Noosa, Queensland, average age is in the high NONYs. It’s beautiful, a backpacker’s destination in its own right, although if truth be told I take it somewhat for granted. It’s a lovely place to live, not an easy place to leave. But the world is calling. The seductive, siren voices of travel have been cooing in my direction for a while and now it’s time to coo back.
“Backpacking did you say?”. This was the very nice receptionist when I phoned to book my travel jabs. “How old are you?”.
Now some people tell me my voice is my best feature. I’t’s probably not a compliment but I fool myself into thinking my phone manner is an exotic mix of youthful, virile and sophisticated. Her tone implied otherwise.
“You wouldn’t get me doing that at your age”, she had ploughed on without even asking my age. It was a little deflating. “Isn’t backpacking what we all did a long time ago before we discovered nice hotels?”
Sad to she’s not alone. Many friends have choked on their carbernets when first hearing of the plan. I/they tend to lead comfortable lives. Admittedly some camp. But the closest they get to hardship is when the croissants are frozen not fresh.
Younger guys react very differently. Slightly smug smirks are their norm.
Oh dear. It’s not looking promising. And yet I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone. Is anybody out there?