As it approaches the end of 2012, I have, as quite a lot of people do, been reflecting on the year that has just gone. This year has been quite the year for travelling. I visited 4 countries this year, two of them being new, and I have loved it.
As I have said in my introduction on my blog, I have travelled since I have been 17. I have been to
18 countries 30 countries (as of 2015) so far. All of this got me thinking about what has made me want to travel, and where did this desire come from.
Reflecting back on my childhood, my earliest memory of travelling was going away with my dad in his Lorry (Truck) at the age of four. We travelled to England and Wales, and I remember being excited about going on the Ferry, meeting new people, driving in different towns and talking to people with ‘funny accents.’ This got me thinking about what it would be like to have been born in a different country, then onto seeing different places, and what it was like outside of Northern Ireland.
Later on in my childhood, I remember talking to my aunt who now resides in Auckland. She moved to London in her 20’s to live and study, which to me, as a 10 year old sounded so exciting, even though it is only an hour away by plane. In addition to this, my aunt had done a lot of travelling to places such as Egypt, which sounded very exotic at the time. I think it was at this point I got a flicker of desire for travelling.
I wasn’t much into Geography at school, but the one thing that always fascinated me was the world map (and it still does). I remember looking at it, and surveying its vastness, and the size of Northern Ireland in comparison with the rest of the world, we were just a tiny wee dot. I longed to see it all.
My mum was also a big influence in my desire to travel. She always encouraged us all to ‘do and be’, go where we wanted to go, as long as it made us happy (and as long as we had the money to do so).
My first trip away without my family was when I was in Primary 7 (last year of primary school – aged 10/11). We went to London. I saved up pocket money, and collected cans for recycling to gain funds, and I was off. I remember being so excited to fly for the first time, and to see the bright lights and get on trains and transport systems different to little Northern Ireland. I kept a travel diary (which I still have to this day), recording all my adventures of what I got up to. I was hooked by this point.
Another reflection I had also was on my upbringing and culture. As well the encouragement from my mum to throw ourselves at life, I was brought up in a country where there was a clear cultural divide and a lot of tension between two sides (Catholic and Protestant). I went to a school which was almost 100% Protestant. On the bus journey home, children as young as 12 were singing and chanting derogatory songs about Catholics. However, we were not brought up in this way, to hate someone due to their background or beliefs, but to treat people as equal, and respect their beliefs and differences. So I guess in a way, this made me grow to like those who were different to me and gave me a passion to understanding different cultures.
As 2013 approaches, I realise how blessed I have been to have travelled so much this year and to experience what I have experienced and to have met so many wonderful people.