Catching the Travel Bug: My Travel Story

A few weeks ago, I wrote about starting a travel blog in the time of a Pandemic. In that post, I talked a bit about why I wanted to start a travel blog, but didn’t really talk about how I discovered my love for travel. In my post about the connection between books and travel, I touched a bit more on why I chose those two topics. But how did I realize I loved travel? I figured that this was a good time to share with you my travel story – how I got into travel, and why I keep travelling and exploring.

Phase One: Camping

Two tents on a campsite
A camping trip Summer 2019

I love camping. I love both trips that are mainly about camping, as well as being able to camp as part of other travel. I grew up camping with my family every summer. My parents first took me when I was two weeks old, and I have loved camping ever since. We’ve mostly done tent trailer camping, though we’ve also done some tent camping, especially in recent years. Sometimes a tent is easier for a road trip when you’re staying at a site for only one night.

Incorporating camping into trips can be a great way to bring down accommodation costs. Camp sites are generally very reasonably priced, especially as compared to hotel rooms. I think that no matter what I do, camping will always be part of my life. We recently began the process of purchasing a new trailer. We’re transitioning into something that’s still small and relatively simple, but fully contained. I can’t wait to start planning close to home camping trips and longer road trips once we get our new trailer next summer.

Phase Two: Exploring Canada

In addition to camping trips, my family also went on various other trips. Mostly we stayed in Ontario, but we also went out to Eastern Canada, and even to Washington DC on year. Each of these trips helped spark my love of travel, but I think the most influential trip of this phase was our trip to Prince Edward Island. In my books and travel post, I talked about how our PEI trip was an example of how reading and travel overlapped for me.

I loved that trip. I loved seeing the places that inspired one of my favourite book series’ and I loved experiencing the beauty of Eastern Canada. The East Coast will always have a special place in my heart. I also learned through this trip that even if things don’t go exactly as planned, it can still be amazing and memorable. We had a few twists and turns that meant we had to adapt and modify our plans, but it worked out.

These trips showed me how wonderful travel can be, but they didn’t fully ignite my love of travel.

Phase Three: Finding the Working Holiday Visa

I have mentioned before that I lived in England for a year, but I haven’t talked about how that came about. I first got the idea to live in England while I was in grad school. I might have thought about living abroad before that, but never seriously enough to look into it all that deeply. And the idea always faded one in favour of other things. Until that one night in grad school.

I’m not entirely sure what led me down the rabbit trail of researching living abroad. I’m fairly certain it was extremely late at night (me and 2 a.m. were intimately acquainted during grad school) and I was almost certainly procrastinating whatever it was that I was supposed to be working on. In grad school it’s always a good bet that there’s something you should be working on at all times.

I think it’s also necessary to note that I was watching A LOT of British television that year. I had just gotten into Doctor Who, and BBC Sherlock was in it’s prime. So England was on my mind fairly regularly. Whatever the reason, I got the idea “what if I lived in England?” And that sparked a dive into Google to see if it was even possible outside of a study abroad plan.

During this research, I stumbled across the concept of a Working Holiday Visa, or Youth Mobility Visa as it is sometimes called. If you’ve never heard of this, as I hadn’t at that point, I’ll give a quick explanation. Essentially, these are Visas that exist through partnerships between various countries that allow young people to get short term work Visas. The age limit for qualifying depends on both the country you’re from and the one you’re looking to move to, as does the length of the Visa you can get. At the time, to get a one time, 2-year Visa as a Canadian to work in the United Kingdom, you had to be under 30 at the time of application. Which I was.

Since I met the age qualification, I started looking into it more. And before I knew it, this passing idea had become something that I really wanted to do. I started thinking about it more seriously, and it soon became clear that this wasn’t an idea that was going to fade away. I was going to move to England.

Before I knew it, I was planning, picking out dates, and filling out application forms. There was a lot of research and planning. I research and plan because I love it, but also because it lets me feel, accurately or not, like I have a handle on something that’s not only new, but as terrifying as it is exciting. Before England, I had never lived further than a short car ride from my family. And I’d never been on a plane before. Not only was my first airplane trip going to be across an ocean, but it would take me to live an ocean away from my family and friends. Exciting? Yes. Terrifying? Definitely.

Phase Four – England

London Parliament buildings as seen from the London Eye
London Parliament buildings as seen from the London Eye

It was the fall of 2014. All the planning was done. My bags were packed and I was ready to board a plane to London. I was doing it! I had accommodation planned for the first few week or so, and an interview lined up at Windsor Castle (more about that in a future post). I had a list of a million places that I wanted to visit or travel to, and I also had the idea firmly in mind that if it was terrible I could book the next flight home.

I ended up living in London for about 13 months. It was a long time and not enough time all at once. It was a long time away from my friends and family, but not enough time in the city I love. Even living right in London, there’s so much of that city that I didn’t get to see. Not to mention all the other places I didn’t have the time or opportunity to travel to within the UK and Europe. A part of my heart will always live in London, and I hope I will get to go back. It is the far off future trip I am always looking forward to.

This trip, and all of the smaller trips that were part of that year, fanned the travel flame for me. I learned that I loved travelling and planning trips. And I knew that I was going to keep doing it. Whether it was big trips, or small trips, I knew that I wanted to keep exploring. I learned that there’s so much more to travel than just the big experiences, and I was excited to take that understanding home with me.

Beyond London to the Present

Red Chairs in Nova Scotia 2017

It’s been 5.5 years since I got on the plane that took me to London. To this point, I have not travelled as much in one year as I was able to do during that year, but I have kept travelling and planning trips. Due to size and distance, it’s not as easy to do long weekend trips within Canada, but I’ve tried to maintain the principle through planning a mix of small, medium and big trips as time and budget permits.

Some years we focus our trips within a relatively short distance around Ontario. There is so much to explore within Ontario, and even within a couple hours drive from home. We’ve done camping trips and weekend trips to places we’ve been before and new places. We’ve discovered a few new favourite places in Ontario that we plan on going back to many times in the future. And there are still so many places on the list to still explore within this province.

We’ve only done one bigger trip so far, but the plan is to do a bigger trip every few years where possible. The first trip of this type was a couple years ago when my mom and I took a road trip East to Nova Scotia. Even in working to keep expenses down, these types of trips are always bigger budget – either in time or money. Which is why they happen less frequently.

This year was supposed to be a bigger trip year. My mom I and had our trip to Newfoundland almost completely planned… but it’s looking like that’s going to be postponed until next year. It’ll cause a bit of a shuffle to our longer term travel plans, since next year was going to be devoted to exploring with our new trailer, but I’m sure we’ll figure out how to balance the two.

At this point in my life, travel and exploration consists of fitting it around a full time job and “normal” life. Though this sometimes means planning smaller trips, it also means finding ways to explore close to home. I love discovering new restaurants and new places to visit in my city, and exploring your own city can be a form of travel when you can’t actually get away. I wish that I had the time (and money) to fit more trips in, but I’ll continue to work with what I have, and appreciate the travel that I am able to do.

How did you get started with travel? Do you prefer big trips or smaller, closer to home trips? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Meaghan signature

1 thought on “Catching the Travel Bug: My Travel Story”

  1. Would love to visit Canada and stay there a few months, discovering the country but also find a job and meet some locals eheh stay safe and greetings from Portugal, PedroL

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