My husband and I just returned from a once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand we had dreamed of for years. We made arrangements through The Splendid Traveler where Alicia Saba specializes in customized travel in New Zealand and Australia and she took our preferences and produced an ideal itinerary! We had a fabulous time and walked an average of 5-7 miles a day and we were thankful to be in shape to do it. We had agreed that now was the time to take advantage of the investment we have made in our health and fitness and fulfill some of those dreams before age slows us down.
In our travels, we were blessed with expert guides, some young, some older, but they all had one thing in common. They were excited and enthused to do what they were doing. The young people because the job kept them outdoors and doing what they loved in a way that financed their travels and adventures, and the older people (often retired) because they enjoyed how it kept them engaged with other people and added to their incomes. We were inspired by the backgrounds (Retired University Professor, Retired Business Owner, Renaissance Woman with Masters Degrees in Multiple Disciplines) of these folks who gave us up to a day of their time for each excursion!
Our guide in Christchurch (Fiona Newsome of Canterbury Guiding Co.) was an outstanding example. She was a little younger than us and spent two days making our excursions in that area outstanding. Her energy, intellect, creativity, and ability to think on her feet was inspiring to us. She planned ahead and told us all about what we were seeing in a way that was entertaining and knowledgeable. She thought about parking logistics, the next place to have a restroom stop, and where the best possible place to grab lunch was while seeming to enjoy things as much as we did.
As we climbed the steep drive to the Giant’s House in Akaroa (after a fabulous boat tour around the harbor that featured dolphins, seals, and even a fast little penguin), she shared her individual story of meeting and forming a friendship with the very talented but also incredibly reclusive artist (Josie Martin) who created all of the art we got to wander through. It was a fantastic experience, filled with color, unexpected delights, and surrounded by the fragrance of the artist’s gardens that were everywhere. It was unforgettable but could have been perfunctory without Fiona’s perspective and stories.
My point is that Fiona (in Christchurch), Katie at the Zealandia Preserve, our Te Papa Museum guide Rangmoana (I will not guarantee that spelling!), our lovely guide Ann, from Zest food tours (all in Wellington), and countless other people who made our trip special could have decided to retire and keep their gifts to themselves. Instead, they put them to work in a way that keeps them involved and excited and makes them a treat to those of us who get to meet them.
What did we learn?
When you have a purpose and stay connected with other people, it makes your daily life more exciting and even if you may not live longer…there will be more life in your days!