Sue and Dave Slaght from Calgary, Alberta, have been married for over 30 years. Although they are proud grandparents and well into the second half of the game of life, they are also avid travelers who are passionate about social justice and volunteerism. They firmly believe that one is never too old to explore, and they refuse to allow fear or the opinions of others get in the way of trying something new. On their website, Travel Tales of Life, they show their followers that there is no time like the present to see the world.
TA: How many years have you been traveling? What got you hooked?
Sue: Travel has always been a love of ours. During our early years together with young children, the adventures were mostly road trips and an occasional short getaway. In the last decade, with the children grown and the nest empty, we have hit the world trail running.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Sue: Adventure travel is our true love: exploring, learning, and growing.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Sue: Thinking about this question, I imagine myself standing in a massive fruit and vegetable market. Which is the most colorful vegetable? What is the tastiest fruit? I have found that travel destinations and the people we meet are so different that they are difficult to compare. Would our favorite be the young guide who took us on a tour of his home in the Soweto township of South Africa? The woman in rural Turkey who insisted we share the tomatoes from her meager supply of food? The aged man on Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca with the toothless grin and warm handshake? Or the person we will meet on our next adventure?
TA: What is one place you've always wanted to visit?
Sue: Antarctica with my husband. He will need to be there to help me deal with the motion sickness from being on a ship for an extended period -- not to mention my issues with cold temperatures. Doesn’t sound like a dream holiday, does it? However, the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton has long been inspiring to me. Traveling to such a remote location is a challenge I cannot long resist. Besides, the thought of thousands of penguins makes me squeal with glee.
TA: What is the strangest thing you've ever eaten overseas?
Sue: Most of our strange food encounters involve Dave doing the eating and me collecting photographic evidence. He's tried barbecued frog in Thailand, snake wine (yes, multiple snakes were in the bottle) in Vietnam, and worms in Zimbabwe.
TA: Have you ever met someone while traveling who changed your life?
Sue: On a multisport tour in Turkey almost a decade ago, a solo female traveler joined our group. She never told us her age, but with her mentions of life events, we guessed that she was in her mid-80s. Without complaint, she cycled up hills that left me gasping. When our guide asked who wanted to go paragliding off the cliffs of Kas, she was the first to volunteer. She hiked; she kayaked; she smiled. We remember her enthusiasm -- she was squeezing every drop of enjoyment from life.
TA: What is something other tourists do that drives you crazy?
Sue: As I write this, I am sitting on a plane bound for Mexico. A woman nearby has been complaining since prior to boarding. The airport didn't have enough coffee shops, and the lounge area didn't have enough seats. The plane is too hot. Did I mention we are going to Mexico? So many people tell us how fortunate we are to be able to travel. Indeed! Those who whine about the inconveniences of long flights need to meet those who can only dream of such a luxury. Travel is a gift, and one to be exceedingly grateful for.
TA: What is one thing you always pack when you travel?
Sue: Silicone ear plugs. They block the noise from ringing church bells in Italy and babies screaming on the plane. Smaller than noise-canceling earphones -- not to mention less expensive -- ear plugs are a must for us.
TA: What is one travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Sue: When someone you don't know offers you something -- a rose, a CD, a piece of jewelry -- do not take it! In many cities, as soon as you touch it, you or the person with you will be harassed to buy it. I often cross my arms so that I don't reflexively grab what is handed to me.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Sue: Since we travel as a couple, our advice is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Have we mentioned how important we think communication is? If one of you likes hanging out on the beach, and the other wants to rock climb, having those discussions prior to departure will prevent a lot of grief. Travel can look glamorous, and it has many wonderful moments, but there are always unexpected surprises.
TA: What is one piece of advice you'd give to travelers your age?
Sue: Keep exploring. Even if you don't want to do long flights or epic adventures, keep learning. That might be in your own city, or in neighboring towns, or within your country. This wonderful world of ours has a great deal to offer.