Why I Travel

IMAG0426In mere hours, I’m getting on a plane for my second – and final – trip of the year.

Destination: Italy!

But I’m not going alone.

For the first time in my adult life, I’m taking a trip with my mother.

In a way, it’s overdue. You see, she – in large part –  is the reason I travel.

When she was in her early 20s, she travelled thousands of kilometres from Jamaica to northern Wales to study nursing and midwifery.

She ended up living and working in the U.K. for seven years before making the decision to move to Canada.

But for those seven years, all she really did was work. Not once did she set foot upon the European continent.

From what she’s told me in anecdotes, it wasn’t out of a lack of interest, or for lack of trying. On a handful of occasions, she tried to make plans with friends who were fellow nursing students. But they never came to pass.

When in Canada, she did take a handful of trips to cities like New York and Montreal, and made a couple of trips to the Caribbean.

But when she got married and us kids came along, travel abroad was greatly reduced to taking us to Jamaica to visit relatives (when I was 6, 12, and 16).

Even when she retired, she didn’t really travel that far until about five years ago, when she started visiting her good friend (also a retired registered nurse) in Maryland. As it turned out, that friend was an avid traveller, booking a trip every single year whenever she could.

Meanwhile, I spent my early 20s dreaming of travel, but not really getting anywhere. I once applied for a six-month media job in Cambodia with a non-profit organization. But (perhaps to my parents’ absolute relief) no dice. Another time, a high-school friend spoke of going to Japan, which helped re-ignite the desire the travel deep within. I even bought a travel guide in anticipation. But she changed her mind and went to Taiwan. I stayed in Toronto.

I was 26 by the time I finally left on a trip – with my friend Jen – for a one-week, all-inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic. It was a safe choice, and a welcome break after 17 months of continuous casual work. But it marked the beginning of my torrid six-year love affair with travel. At the beginning, I’d either go someplace to visit friends, or go somewhere with a friend.

But the way I travelled changed the year I turned 30. It was supposed to be a trip with a group of friends. But, one by one, each dropped out until, in the middle of July 2007, staring at airfares on a computer screen, I asked myself, “Should I or shouldn’t I?”

And that’s when I remembered the stories my mom told me of being a young twenty-something in the U.K., travel opportunities passing her by because some friend had let her down.

I think I knew where my heart was leading me when I ran it past my mother, and her response to me was less than enthusiastic. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember raising my voice angrily in response. My choice had been made, and it was the best one ever.

In the years since, I’ve travelled to more places than I thought I would (even though it’s all generally in the same hemisphere),. mainly with tour groups. I took a break after 2009, but resumed my travels with gusto in 2012.

Which brings me to this trip.

I wanted to go with my mom because I wanted to share the experience with her while she’s still around and still active enough to see a little part of the world.

She also hasn’t had the best of travel companions. She took a cruise a couple of years ago around the British Isles (and one stop in France), and while she did  enjoy herself to some extent, she had the cabin-mate from hell, who’s a longtime family friend. I’m hoping that Italy will be a better experience.

I’m sure I will enjoy the trip. But to be at my mother’s side as she experiences Italy’s sights and sounds is the thing I’m looking the most forward to.

Only time will tell. If we’re still talking to each other after 12 days, then I will gladly declare our trip an overwhelming success.

But enough blabbering on. I’ve got more packing to do. Enjoy the rest of your September, and I’ll be back posting in October. Arrivederci!

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