I have to share something with you guys. I can’t post any more travel stories here without telling you THE story. The one that sets the stage for who I am as a traveller and travel blogger. I have to tell you how, time after time, I’ve turned down or postponed trip after trip because of a fear that had grown inside me due to one bad experience.
Do you follow many travel bloggers? Read their blogs and enjoy their photos and captions on Instagram? Me, too. And one word that always shouts at me from these feeds is ‘fearless.’ They’re not saying it, but it’s what I absorb when I see their images of unique places, doing all kinds of amazing things. It’s inspiring! My own travel bucket list is long and exciting, but I don’t want you to think I was always able to embrace the world the way I can today. I’m up to date with my vaccines and recently got my Hep A, but nowhere did they offer to shoot me up with a dose of Courage – so if you’re feeling low on it when it comes to leaving the comfort of your home, I want to say, I get it. Before I get ahead of myself, here’s my story on how I went from eager to fearful to travel blogger.
From Eager To Fearful To Travel Blogger
Too many years ago, my husband and I went on a honeymoon to Varadero, Cuba. When we booked our trip, I was excited for our first overseas experience together, not to mention the rest and relaxation we were promised. I didn’t think about anything else. After all, I had flown to Maui for a week on my own and stayed in a hostel just a few years before, doing all kinds of things like hiking Mt. Haleakala in fake Birkenstocks and black dress socks (not lying). A week on the beach with my new husband sounded easy and blissful.
When we arrived, I was dazzled by the colourful resort, the friendly people and the beautiful white sand beach. My husband and I walked hand-in-hand up and down the shoreline, noting the older couples, silver-haired and smiling, that stretched out on beach chairs. “We’ll be just like them, travel the world everywhere, till we’re way too old to do it anymore.” These promises stirred excitement within me. I wanted to see it all.
A couple of nights later, something happened. I didn’t know if it was something I ate or whether this was bound to happen no matter where I was, but I got ill. I was nauseous all day, all night for the remainder of the trip. Not actually getting sick but always feeling close to it. I assumed that when we got home, I would feel normal, but I didn’t. My doctor prescribed a strong antibiotic just in case there was some sort of infection. That didn’t help. Weeks later, I was still nauseous every day. I would start the day feeling OK but from the moment I ate anything, I’d feel ill.
Finally, I got in touch with a naturopath who gave me some suggestions on how to cleanse my system through diet and some supplements; within a couple weeks, I noticed a huge difference. I felt so much better. In fact, I remember the first moment I realized I wasn’t nauseous. I was out for a walk on a late winter’s day. The snow was melting and running off into the sewer drains. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining. And I wasn’t nauseous. I was so happy! I stayed on a clean diet for another 6 months or so and even when I re-introduced some of my old favourites into my meals I felt generally good.
For a long time, I acquainted travelling overseas with feeling sick. This was a bit of a bummer for both my husband and I as we had hoped to travel far and wide throughout our lifetime. He didn’t push me, though, as he was the one who sat up with me during the nights I was too nauseous to sleep. He knew what I had gone through. However, we didn’t just confine ourselves to home; we travelled to different parts of Canada and the United States. But anything that felt outside of my comfort zone, we passed up. Including a complimentary all-inclusive vacation to Puerto Vallarta that my husband earned through his business.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand that what happened to me could have happened to me anywhere, including at home. That the actual cause of my symptoms was likely an imbalance of my good and bad gut bacteria which is something that occurs over time. I had just come off a really stressful couple of years and this was probably just the time my body started screaming about it.
And Then I Took The Plunge
As our children grew, that itch to take them places also grew. I wanted them to know the world and its people. Hear different languages being spoken, see different ways of living. And know that they had a place in a much bigger world. We have done quite a few local trips around the Pacific Northwest (B.C., Alberta and Washington), a driving tour of Ontario, and flew to Atlanta, GA. But it wasn’t enough. With many families of young children travelling to Mexico, we decided that that would be our first big excursion.
We booked a one week stay at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa through our travel agent, Zahra at Beach Wedding Vows. I think I badgered her a hundred times about food and water quality. (What kinds of medications should I take? Are you sure there will be enough bottled water for the whole week?) She was super patient with me and totally understanding when I explained to her my concerns. She assured me I would be OK.
So, last December the 5 of us took our first big flight to Cancun. I have so much to share with you about that amazing trip – but I’m saving that for another post (or three). I do want to tell you how this time when I travelled, I got infected by a bug…the travel bug! And it’s reminded me of all the deeper experiences I want in this lifetime. It really wasn’t the all-inclusive aspect that got me hooked (although being able to say, “Me gustaria dos pizzas de queso, por favor“ several times a day was pretty awesome. So happy I invested the time in these tools to learn Spanish!).
It was a wonderful week of great food, company, beach time, a little adventuring and eye-opening experiences for my kids. We were all sad when it was over, and my son even cried at the resort as we were leaving. Over the Christmas holidays, we made a family travel bucket list and it is extensive. My husband and I have rekindled our dream of travelling together into our retirement years. We want to be silver-haired and smiling while walking hand-in-hand in Europe and Asia. Imagine the insight I’d have as a travel blogger by then! (I mean, I’m not actually going to retire from this, right? I hope not!).
I think what I went through, mentally more so than anything, gives me a unique perspective to offer you, dear Readers. We aren’t all born with adventure coursing through our veins, or some of us have had experiences – relevant or not – with travelling that has put us off or made us more guarded. I get that. I totally get that, and as I share with you my travels near and far, I will keep that in mind. Maybe my posts will inspire you to travel farther and deeper. And I promise to share any tools along the way to help the more timid traveller experience the majesty of this incredible planet.
Remembering My True Self
I’m so thankful that I’m becoming reacquainted with that girl inside me who once spent her college days writing out bucket lists and languages-to-learn lists when she was supposed to be studying for exams. I like this girl. A lot.
What’s YOUR travel story? Eager? Fearful? Both? I’d love to hear in the comments. Also, please say ‘hi’ on Instagram – I love sharing travel and other photos there.
Thanks for reading!