Some people simply love to travel. For whatever reason, some of us have an endless curiosity and an insatiable need to travel, while others prefer to stay in their local neighbourhood enjoying the comforts of home. I recall looking through a souvenir shop, Dreamtime Journey, at Brisbane International Airport collecting gifts before take off and the senior sales assistant mentioned she had never been on a plane. Yet here she was meeting and greeting travellers every day. It seemed so ironic. She said ‘she just didn’t feel any real need…all her family, well her only son, is here in Australia, in Sydney, and he comes up to visit her’. I recall thinking to myself how fortunate I am to have had so many rich and varied cultural experiences travelling, both in Australia and abroad.
My first trip overseas was when I was 5 and my parents took me to the USA. Mum is Canadian, from a family of 7 children, and we were visiting relatives. I still recall moments from that trip, seeing snow for the first time and the warm, friendly smiles on my cousin’s faces. I remember providing the wrong response when my cousin Beth asked if I wanted chips or fries in the middle of a bitterly cold, snowy winter. I said chips picturing hot chips with loads of tomato sauce. My little heart sank when I ended up with a packet of potato chips. I didn’t realise fries were hot chips in the USA.
When I was 18 I headed to Hamburg Germany, then the UK to take an extended break from Uni and to work as an au pair. I also ended up working in a small cafe in London, Cafe Mignon, for some extra cash. The cafe is near Victoria Station and still exists today. In my early 20s, I spent 5 years studying full-time at the tertiary level and working part-time in retail. I enjoyed my studies and completed my Bachelor degrees in Business – Public Relations and Arts – Media Studies (over four years) followed by an Arts honours degree in Communication and Cultural Studies (one year). Post University I spent three years teaching English in Asia – 2 years in Kyoto Japan and 1 year in Paju South Korea. Surviving in an Eastern culture made me appreciate the attention to detail in terms of food and ritual, e.g. celebrating the spectacular change of season.
According to Molly Stack in her blog entry, Connecting through Travel, on Backroads: ‘Regardless of why, how and where we go, many of us share the desire to explore and to connect — or re-connect — to nature, to history, to cultures different from our own. The idea of connection has always been one of the things I find most inspiring about travel.’
On returning to Australia I was fortunate to meet my wonderful partner Nigel and he’s from England, which I now regard as my home away from home. In between our work commitments we frequently go overseas to visit friends and family in the UK and luckily we manage to see a bit more of Europe each time. We are a couple with no kids and you will see Nige pop up in plenty of pics. This blog is a collaborative project and Nigel assists a great deal behind the scenes. Whilst I write the content, he is certainly also a keen traveller and a big support with planning trips, filming, editing, photography and all things technology related. He’s a bit of a geek! (but don’t tell him I said so). He is my soul mate and we will never tire of the thrill of travelling and the joy of being creative and making memories together.
My theme is travel to connect and reflect. I prefer travel to feel like a soulful experience rather than a superficial one. What does this mean? It means engaging in mindful travel by being sensitive and respectful towards the local customs. It’s important to demonstrate empathy, show consideration for how things are done differently and approach each journey with an open heart and an open mind. I like to go with the flow and to feel as though I am respecting and even embracing the values, the people and the culture of the particular place. Not imposing my values on them….connecting with the character of the place I am visiting is integral to my soulful experience of travel.
Casey Siemasko wrote an interesting post – 8 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections with Locals on Your Travels on Vagabondish. She also asks the question ‘Why do people travel? There could be any number of reasons. For some it’s a way to satiate their curiosity about the world, to explore and experience new cultures. For others it’s about relaxing, rejuvenating or breaking out of the ‘work bubble.’ Adrenaline junkies might be in pursuit of their next big thrill while foodies may be searching for novel flavors to tantalize their taste buds. Everyone has their own impetus to travel. However, I believe one of the most powerful, underlying forces is the desire to connect with humanity. By meeting new people around the world we are better able to understand our differences, to appreciate and accept them. But we also begin to realize just how small the world is, and how we all want the same basic things out of life – love, health and happiness.’
Some people feel compelled to travel to stay connected to their loved ones and others simply want to explore more of their own country and may even return to the same spot year after year for their annual vacation. The familiarity of the same place makes it easier to plan and quickly relax and unwind. When I travel to other places I love the challenge of connecting with the local culture and people and finding a connection to home too. Through my writing and photography I want to refer to the way in which our six senses are heightened when we travel – sight, taste, touch, sound, smell and last but not least, intuition. Travel is all about being curious as we attempt to make sense of our new surroundings and find meaning and purpose. It can also be a time to reinvent ourselves, to escape our everyday routines, to rest and reset.
Sahara Rose De Vore, travel coach and founder of The Travel Coach Network, writes in her article Travel improves relationships and builds Human Connection that “Strong relationships, deep human connection, and positive social engagement are important for people both in and out of the workplace. From decreasing stress, boosting happiness and mood, and improving brain health, human connection in various realms is pertinent for people’s overall wellness. Travel has the power to maximize human connection, result in improved well-being.” This really resonates with me. I feel happier and healthier within myself and in my relationship due to my life enhancing experiences travelling.
To quote Carole King from her song Tapestry,
My Life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hueCarole King
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold
This blog is an expression of my travel stories and will focus on exploring the notion of human connection not perfection. Oz to Anywhere will reflect how particular places moved and inspired me on this challenging, unpredictable journey called life. Through this blog I want to feel more engaged with each experience and to share the joy of storytelling and travel adventures with my readers to inspire you on your next trip. For armchair travellers, I hope you value the content as a way to gain some insight into the places we visit. Welcome to my blog. Sit down, buckle up and enjoy the ride from Oz to Anywhere….
Now….where to next??