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My Travel Inspirations

by Andrea on April 19, 2012

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I’d love to say I was always a traveller, born with a backpack and jetting around the world from a young age, a multicultural polyglot with worldy penpals and different schools like a military brat. But my life didn’t start that way at all. I grew up in a relatively small city in the Southern United States to parents who, though they travelled quite a bit themselves as time went on, never really took me anywhere exciting in my childhood or formative years. We’d take those precious two weeks of vacation to visit either set of grandparents, a journey that involved either a nine or fourteen hour car ride in either direction. Just them, me and the dog.

IMG 8801 My Travel Inspirations
Who

So it might surprise you to hear that the who in my inspiration story are these two people. They made up for it all later on in life, my father taking me to Europe for the first time when I was 19. It was incredible. I’d never been anywhere so cultured or fascinating before and I became instantly hooked on the continent, a place where I would eventually come to live. After that, the travel tap flowed: I went to Singapore to spend a couple of months with him while he was working there and we went to Thailand and Indonesia together. My mother and I took trips to California, France and the British Virgin Islands. Dad and I spent almost three weeks in Spain one year as well.

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My photo archives are currently on a boat coming from Australia so I hope these photos will suffice. Here we have my father walking me down the aisle at my wedding in 2010 – he’s definitely one of my travel inspirations and I thank him for making it to Australia to see John and I tie the knot.

But they inspired me long before they took me anywhere. My father’s work took him all over the world when I was growing up. He did long stints in places I didn’t even know existed: South America, Turkey, China, Saudi Arabia and the state of Washington. Of course, the older I got, these places did eventually hit my radar; as a teenager I was determined to get out in the world someday and see it all. He’d bring me t-shirts, leather goods, jewelery and souvenirs from every place he visited and I kept a collection of global trinkets in my room, many of which I still have today.

My mother also loved travel, more in her later years but it was never too late. As a child she had moved around the United States quite a bit and chose a more settled life when I was growing up. But as soon as I went off to university she was suddenly out in the world, flying to Europe and the Caribbean or her beloved California. By the time I finished school I had itchy feet as well, picking up and moving over 4,000 kilometres from Miami to San Francisco where I didn’t know a soul. My nomadic adventures had begun.

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Exploring the Grand Canyon in 2009 with John.

A third person who inspired me to travel is my husband. I met him on a practically spur of the moment trip, the first international trip I’d ever taken without my parents. I took a break with friends to Crete, where we were supposed to spend a few days and then head to Germany for Oktoberfest and on to Italy after that. John was our roommate in the dorm we’d been assigned and he’d travelled and worked all over Europe on his own before ending up by himself at the same hostel as me. The rest is history but his entertaining stories from the road and some of the other people we met on that fateful trip (my first real backpacking experience) really got me thinking about how much was out there that I hadn’t seen yet – and who!
A post to inspire you: Are Some of Us Meant To Wander?

What

Any little thing can get me interested in a place. Sometimes I read about a quirk of its people like Icelanders believing in elves, or a dish I taste that’s from somewhere exotic and it makes me decide that I have to go there. Reading really gets me motivated to travel because today so many people are writing about destinations and with the internet we get to hear from voices beyond just guidebook authors and the usual travel columnists. I’m also inspired by other forms of media like television: watching nature shows has made me determined to get to Africa someday.
A post to inspire you: Ascending the Beast: What Our Volcan Villarrica Climb Reminded Me About Life

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Europe has always been magical for me. This was taken in the Krakow square on Poland’s national day last year.

Where

France. Somewhere along the Rue Mouffetard I decided I just had to spend more time in Europe. It was probably something I ate or a conversation I had with my father over dinner about this or that. I can’t really remember. But Paris and the visits that followed to other parts of the country really set my imagination off. It’s probably the food or the passionate nature of the people, or perhaps the gentle humming of the boats along the river Seine. I think the most intriguing places are those for which you just can’t put your finger on the reason why, n’est-ce pas?
A post to inspire you: A Day Out In the Swiss Alps

When

Now. That saying “today is the first day of the rest of your life” might have come from a sketchy 1960’s drug rehabilitation program, but you don’t have to be in crisis to believe in it. I may get inspired by the places and people of my past but that doesn’t sustain me for very long. I feel I’ve only scratched the surface with the little travel I’ve done and my only concern about completing my destination wish list is how much time I have to see all the places on it. I’m always on the lookout for a chance to travel. It’s in my blood. I hope this post has inspired you to start thinking about it and get out there too.
A post to inspire you: Bozcaada: Turkey’s Island of Wine

This post is my entry for the easyJet Holidays Inspiration Initiative.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Branham April 19, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Andrea, where in the South did you grow up? I was born and raised there as well. My early travels started with my family and when I was young, we took a trip from South Carolina to Maine. I saw much of the east coast and a little of the midwest growing up. However, I didn’t get the travel bug until I went to Estonia in college.

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Birmingham, Alabama – I think there are a lot of amazing destinations in the South…I’d love to get back there someday to explore. I’m sure I’d have more of an appreciation for it now. I have a lot more of the East Coast to see as well, having still never been to the Carolinas or Pennsylvania – and I’ve barely seen Virginia or D.C. Still have yet to go to Estonia but it’s on our list!

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A Montrealer Abroad April 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Thanks for tagging me – I really appreciate it!

I have a bit of a similar story. I never lacked for anything while growing up, but my parents didn’t have enough money to take me on a lavish trip every summer. Instead, we drove to every interesting destination within a three hour range from Montreal. And last year, my dad came to visit me in Europe – it was the best trip of my life.

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I think local trips are a really practical way to travel with a family – I’ve determined this after watching parents try to control their young children in airports, haha. How wonderful that your Dad came to visit you in Europe – I love it when our parents come to visit us!

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The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) April 20, 2012 at 3:48 am

Ah, now you have me thinking about what are my inspirations! So much to think about. That’s so great that you ended up getting to travel overseas with your parents after all. What a treasured memory. I, too, got to take an overseas trip with my dad — to Greece in 2009. And I’m also inspired to travel by my husband, who grew up overseas, moving to a difference continent each year. From the moment I met him, I felt that I had to keep coming up with new adventures for us so that it could meet the high expectations he had from such a fun childhood abroad. I’d say we’re doing pretty well, and haven’t even hit 30 yet! What a wonderful thing to share with your spouse. Thanks for sharing your inspirations!

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm

You’re doing great with travel in your 20s! I think it’s such a special thing to be able to travel with your partner or spouse – it can be challenging and is certainly not for everyone but so worth the reward. I couldn’t imagine travelling with anyone besides John now.

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Kyle April 20, 2012 at 7:14 am

That’s the first time I’ve ever seen any of your wedding photos and wow, you look amazing! And I love how you look so nervous and your dad looks so happy…what a great moment!

I think your parents did it the right way…how much do you remember as a little kid anyways? I went on two major trips before the age of 18, Chile and Brazil, and those gave me the confidence to know I could go anywhere, that the world was my playground, but besides those two places, we drove back and forth from Michigan to Florida. Some of my best memories are from the family van :)

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm

That’s so sweet, Kyle – thanks! I was just overwhelmed and smiling all day and being very chatty, definitely out of nervousness. Your wedding day such a surreal time. I’m not used to being the centre of attention like that! I think you make a great point about travelling with young kids. I always thought 10 was a good age to start taking them on trips where they will remember things and where it will really have an impact on their lives. John first went to Europe at 10 and he remembers everything and it totally shaped his travel ambitions for the rest of his life.

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Andi April 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

You and I have very similar childhoods! I want John to answer these questions too btw!!! You made such a gorgeous bride. :)

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I’ve been giving John a break from the blog since he’s just started his new job and they are really busy over there. I can tell you that he always says the trip he took with his family to Europe at age 10 was a major inspiration for him as well. We’re Europe-loving soulmates =) Thanks for saying I looked like a gorgeous bride – I only had about four or five hours of sleep the night before and you should have seen me before my very talented make-up artist got her hands on me, haha!

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Alexa Meisler April 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Beautiful. Isn’t it great when your parents rub off on you that way? It’s nice to hear about families who have the same passion such as traveling. Why settle down in one places when there’s still too much to see right?

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm

That’s right, Alexa! It must be in the genes =)

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Abby April 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm

We have such similar backgrounds! My dad traveled/s so much all over the world for his work that when it was time to take a family vacation, all he wanted to do was stay put somewhere with a good book. So we’d load up the car and drive. I actually quite treasure those memories and still love a good road trip! My mom never went anywhere really but always said she wanted to. I’m sure parts of me got tired of hearing her say and not do… Well, she sure showed me! I’m the oldest. As soon as we were all out of the house, my mom started her jet-setting and hasn’t stopped since!

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I definitely have empathy for my Dad in that respect – he’s still travelling constantly and I’ve realized after doing it ourselves last year just how exhausting it is. Don’t get me wrong – I love my family and the road trips were great, but I always had major wanderlust to see foreign destinations. That’s so cool that your mom is out there travelling! =)

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Jess @UsedYorkCity April 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Fabulous article, and I completely agree with barely scratching the surface of travel. I love making detailed itineraries and researching all about where I’m traveling to, but by the time the plane lands back home I’m already itching to start planning the next adventure! Guess we got bit by the same travel bug!:-)

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inspiringtravellers April 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Thanks, Jess! It’s tough because once you’re bitten by that bug, you can’t stop. In a good way, of course =)

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Sophie April 22, 2012 at 11:47 am

So lovely your parents giving you wings and inspiration, Andrea :)

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inspiringtravellers April 22, 2012 at 11:51 am

I hope someday we can do the same for any children we may have =)

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Natasha von Geldern April 23, 2012 at 3:05 am

Like you I never went anywhere as a child except to visit grandparents in the holidays (er, vacation). I’ve been making up for lost time ever since and similarly, Europe is the place that instilled the permanent travel itch. Thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts on your family. PS. It’s great to have a partner/husband with the same travel enthusiasm isn’t it?!

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inspiringtravellers April 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

It certainly is, Natasha! I’m so happy that John and I share that =)

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Krista April 23, 2012 at 4:41 am

I loved reading your story today, Andrea. :-) It’s so nice to know the background, who shaped and inspired and challenged you. :-)

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inspiringtravellers April 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

Cheers, Krista! =)

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Amanda April 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Thanks for the nomination! I’ve got some thinking to do now! Thanks for sharing your inspirations with us. I really enjoyed reading about them and learning a bit more about you in the process!

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inspiringtravellers April 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Cheers, Amanda – look forward to reading yours! =)

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Cathy Sweeney April 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm

My parents were my biggest travel inspirations, too. Even though we never traveled by plane or left North America when I was growing up, they took us on wonderful journeys throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico and encouraged my international travel guide hobby. :) Love the photo of you and your dad — a treasure!

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inspiringtravellers April 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thanks, Cathy! Sounds like you got around quite a bit as a youngster – it’s great to see how early experiences shape the rest of our lives =)

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Kurt April 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm

You might not have been brought up with travel, but you found its magic and that is all that matter, I think.

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inspiringtravellers April 25, 2012 at 9:31 am

You’re right, Kurt – well said! =)

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Nate April 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Nice article, Andrea. You are a lovely bride! Also, I spotted the “West Coast Eagles” hat on John ;)

What great parents you have. I don’t have any children, but you have inspired me to make sure my niece (who is now 6 years old) is well travelled. I’m going to take her somewhere, just to give her the “travel bug”.

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inspiringtravellers April 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Thanks so much, Nate! Yes, John is a huge Eagles fan. As you can see I’m sporting a St. Kilda hat – I chose not to have the glory of premierships during our recent years in Oz ;) What a nice thing to do =) We don’t have children yet either but plan to take them travelling as much as we can.

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Ali April 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Beautiful post Andrea! Europe has always been my favorite part of the world too. And I can totally relate to wanting to visit somewhere because of a quirky little thing. That’s one of the reasons my list of places to visit is always getting longer instead of shorter!

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inspiringtravellers May 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I’ve stopped making lists, haha – there are just too many places. And so many that I want to go back to instead of just having them as one-off destinations! =)

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Siaocumber June 13, 2012 at 3:41 am

Nice traveling photo u got there!!!

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inspiringtravellers June 13, 2012 at 8:39 am

Thanks! =)

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