Wow, you really like to travel…

It has gradually dawned on me that perhaps not everyone likes to travel the way I do.

“I love to travel!,” they say, and then I discover that means a yearly trip to a warm place (ideally an all-inclusive where they have been before) and maybe a local driving/camping holiday. Not there is anything wrong with that, but it is not my definition of adventure.

I’m not sure where this passion for travel came from. I didn’t leave North America till I was 19 and went to Hawaii, and my next trip further afield was to Finland when I was almost 30.

My family moved from Ontario to BC when I was 6, and I still remember the trips across the country to visit family: flying, driving, by bus, and one glorious trip by train. And we went camping, to forest sites close to home, and to the Okanagan, a ferry trip and a few hours drive away. Maybe not too exciting by today’s standards, but I grew up with children who had never been more than a couple of hundred kilometres from their home.

Day two of a hitchhiking trip across Canada. The sign says “Salmon Arm,” the next destination.

When I was 17, I responded to a personal ad that said “Young woman looking for same to hitchhike across Canada.” And I did. When my partner headed down to Boston, where I couldn’t go because I wasn’t old enough to cross the border without my parents’ permission, I continued on my own. Memories of the people I met on that adventure are still fresh, over 40 years later. I suspect my family trips laid the seed, and my first travels on my own allowed it to sprout.

Or perhaps it was the seeds planted in elementary school. So many of the people I traveled with in Egypt last month all had the same memory: discovering ancient Egyptian civilization in elementary school social studies. The Pyramids, the Egyptian gods, hieroglyphics: the exotic appeal seemed to root deep in so many.

Giza, January 2019

Perhaps the fascination came from books. In Aswan, 8 of us went to the Old Cataract Hotel for tea, just to have an Agatha Christie experience. Four of us went back the next day, hoping to get a glimpse into the suite where she wrote “Death on the Nile.”

Terrace at the Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan

Yet many avid readers are content to simply be armchair travelers. Every child gets the same history lessons. Why do some of us stick close to home and others wander far afield? Is it basic personality, or experience? I lean to the former. My children, despite vast travel exposure from toddlerhood to their 20s, have never traveled on their own, unless it was arranged by adults. Never. Not even to the next province. They have never chosen to go anywhere further than a few hundred kilometres away. At one point, when I offered my daughter the funding to travel wherever she wanted and she chose not to go, I asked, why? You are competent and experienced, and you have friends all around the world. When we were in Paris, I sent you across the hall to buy the tickets for the Metro! And you were just fine! Yes, she said. But I always knew that you were there, on the other side of the hall.

So with no more understanding of the reasons why I love it so much, I continue to travel.

Here’s to more brave adventures.

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