The Whirlwind

This post is part of my first assignment for Matador U‘s online Travel Writing Course.

My travel addiction started with a grade 9, whirlwind trip to Europe.  I was 14, shy and mostly scared. Packing for trips was something I hadn’t had much experience with in the past. I was convinced that I would be buying a bunch of new European clothes so I severely underpacked, dedicating lots of empty space in my suitcase to accommodate my future wardrobe.  There wasn’t much time for shopping on the first part of the trip; most of our time was spent on the dreaded tour bus. Fortunately my friend Ashley would let me wear whatever she wasn’t using that day-including her spare shoes. At least I had enough underwear to get me through the trip. Needless to say I have never under-packed again. By the end of the trip, with some solid time off the bus and three great days in Florence, Ashley and I considered running away from the tour and “missing” our flight home. Then we would have to spending the rest of our lives in Europe.  But how could we? We were only 14.

The next time I traveled abroad, I was 19 and off to Italy for a second year university course-Italian. This trip changed my life, forever. I came to realize that there wasn’t just one way of doing things or simply one way of perceiving the world. There were numerous possibilities and different avenues to consider and explore. This was the first chance I had to travel by myself, all on my own, even if it was only for a few days. I was still fairly shy and scared but luckily my friend Cindy, whom I had just spent the last six weeks living and traveling with in Italy, was a seasoned female solo traveler. Also known as the “Human Compass”, Cindy had become my guide.  She was older than me and wiser than me and she graciously shared her travel knowledge, including tips on packing.

Most of my travel/live abroad experiences have centered around surfing and taken place in: Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Fiji, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, and the USA-Hawaii, California and New York. I have also traveled to, but not for surfing, to: England, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Vietnam. I would like to revisit some of these latter countries but perhaps next time with a surfboard. It is hard to pick favorites from these places.  Each place is different and has something unique to offer.  However, there are some places that stand out more than others, and places I dream of seeing again like Fiji and Italy. A number of places I have never been to also intrigue me, such as India, Indonesia, Japan and Sri Lanka.

Traveling is almost always exciting and never boring. Going to a different place, seeing new people and hearing unusual and unexpected sounds, quenches some thirst deep inside of me. I don’t know where this extreme need for travel came from, perhaps it was that first trip to Europe. Or maybe it is the challenge that  traveling poses. Or perhaps it is the chance learn about yourself and to learn about others. Regardless, I also like traveling because it gives you time to contemplate, consider and reflect but from a very different perspective. Some kind of clarity almost always manages to shine through, both during and after traveling.

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