One of my English students asked me the other day why I like travelling.
I’m not sure if she really wanted to know or if it was just a “why” question she knew how to ask. Either way, I was stumped.
When I’m talking to people about travel, they usually ask me where I’ve been, where I’m going or where I like the most, but being asked WHY I travel isn’t so common.
I stumbled through an answer about meeting new people and seeing new places, but it didn’t seem like enough. Travelling just satisfies a part of me that’s always looking for something new, some adventure, something more.
Then I realised I can’t explain why I travel because when I started travelling it wasn’t up to me.
As a child, my parents took me to places all over New Zealand on weekends and holidays away. Some of my earliest clear memories are of travel, including a trip to the South Island when I was 3 that my Mum couldn’t believe I know so much about.
My experiences abroad began with a trip to Australia at seven, when you could say my interest in travel writing was sparked by a travel journal from Air New Zealand!
I started travelling because my parents gave me the chance to do so.
We weren’t rich or well-off by most standards, but my parents made travel possible through small and big adventures. They sacrificed and made choices to make travel and adventure happen for us as a family.
Years later, as we browsed through photos of that first trip abroad, my Mum commented that my Dad was so much thinner because he had been working so hard to help our family do this, something I hadn’t even thought about.
My parents sparked a sense of adventure in me. Even when we weren’t travelling far, they gave my brother and me opportunities to explore. We cycled all over our small town and the countryside, swam and picnicked at different rivers nearby, and went camping because it was cheap and they made it fun.
Although we regularly went to my grandparent’s beach house in New Zealand, we always found new things to do there. Walking across the river mouth to where we had never been before, climbing up hills, and going fishing and exploring new areas. My parents were the first ones to teach me to choose the adventure.
Inspiring my travels
When I came home at 15 with the news that I wanted to move to the United States for a year, I thought my parents would say no. Instead, they supported me, and it all snowballed until I found myself in Kansas (as opposed to Dorothy).
It was my Dad that convinced me to study abroad in Canada. Nothing ever seems to be too grand of an idea for my Dad. He couldn’t see why I wouldn’t take the opportunity to live abroad again, and his confidence gave me the push I needed to do it.
I think if I told him I was going to live at the South Pole, he would think it was a great idea and be planning a way to come and visit!
Travelling with me
As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to have my Mum as one of my best travel buddies. We have road-tripped Ireland together, visited 4 countries in 2 weeks on an Eastern European trip and tracked our family history through Tasmania. Sometimes we let my Dad and his wallet come along…
My parents have been some of my best travel companions. They have this uncanny (read: totally planned) way of turning up wherever I travel to.
They’ve visited me in Canada, Scotland and Spain. My first backpacking trip in Asia was with my parents! Last year when I went to Cairns to learn how to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, they flew up to join me for a few days’ holiday.
My Dad made me take this picture of him sitting in a boat…
Like father like daughter…
And so I’ve realised that my parents are my travel inspiration. They’ve been travelling since before travelling was cool, and they’re still challenging the stereotypes of travel now.
My Parent’s Story
My parents might have married young, but they didn’t just settle down afterwards, much to the bewilderment of some.
Instead, my Mum gave up a good job at the bank to work with my Dad on shearing farms. They travelled to Western Australia, somewhere that would have seemed much further from New Zealand than it does now, and they worked in different places before driving across the Nullarbor to the East Coast.
It might be a popular thing for backpackers to do now, but this was the 1980s, and they were supposed to be settling down.
My parents actually never told me much about their Australia trip until we travelled to some of the places they went to last year. They don’t seem to see their travel achievements in the same way I do, as something out of the ordinary.
Almost 12 years ago, after being empty nesters for a few years, my parents changed their lives by moving from New Zealand to Australia. They gave up many of the possessions they’d had for the course of their married life (now over 40 years!) and made the move without having anywhere to live or jobs secured.
They took work where they could, sometimes jobs they weren’t particularly fond of, but they made it work. While a lot of us are happy to do this when we’re younger, not everyone would do it in their 50s. I have friends who wouldn’t even do it at 28!
My parents continue to inspire me to take chances and work hard for the things I want, and they showed me that you don’t have to be young to do it. Your travel life doesn’t have to end.
When I was writing this, my parents were in Vietnam. They’d embarked on an adventure of epic proportions, with no fixed ending, travelling like true backpackers. Starting from Australia, they made their way through South East Asia before heading over to Spain to visit me (of course) and then onto the United Kingdom and beyond.
They did housesitting and travelled as they pleased, having spent years working hard to make it possible.
We don’t come from a lot of money; they haven’t won the lottery or come across a scheme to get rich; instead, they have worked hard throughout their lives and made the things they want a priority.
My parents embody the idea that if you want something, you can make it happen.
I deal with the assumption all the time that my parents are back at home in New Zealand, and I have to explain they are off doing their own thing and travelling even more than me!
Everywhere my parents go, they find adventure, whether it’s where they live or abroad.
They taught me to seek out adventure in my everyday life and to work hard for the big adventures I want to have. They gave me a curiosity about the world, people and other cultures. They taught me to try new things and that if I want something, I should go for it.
My parents have unfailingly supported me throughout my travels, through the good and bad times.
As a child, they guided me into this world of travel and adventure that I’m living, and I don’t think they even realise it. At a time when most people are looking to social media and blogs for their travel inspiration, I don’t need to look any further than my parents. I think my parents are pretty cool for doing what they are,
Who’s your travel inspiration? Are you travelling with kids, or are your parents travel addicts like mine?
P.S. Hi Mum! *waves*
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10 thoughts on “My Parents Are My Travel Inspiration (Shhh)”
I started traveling with my parents too. They still travel and it amazes me how they are still like kids when they go to see new places.
Also I am ready to punch anyone who will tell me that they are old (Mom is in her late 50s and dad is in his early 60s). They are young at heart and I wish I would be like them when I am their age.
My parents are the same! They love exploring new places, and I love that I’ve been able to continue to do it with them as I’ve got older. I hope I’m like them too 🙂
What a wonderful story and it must be so neat to be able to travel with your parents. I wish I had that opportunity before my mom passed away. And also my daughter. And my son is now 8 and I am still not doing it. And he will be grown so this is the time to throw caution to the winds and just do it.
Thanks Glenda! I really try to cherish the travel moments with my parents, unlike when I was a stroppy teenager and didn’t appreciate it so much! You don’t have to go far, just try and incorporate little local adventures on the weekends if you can :). Good luck!
I can really related to your story…thanks for sharing it! My parents were quinessencial “hippies” and I spent a lot of time camping, which gave me a real appreciation for nature and traveling to natural spots. They were an inspiration too and gave me my “can do” attitude when it came to traveling without being one of the “rich and famous.” Thanks again for posting!
Thanks for your comment! I’m glad to know other people started travelling because of their parents and have been inspired by them too. It’s something I didn’t think about a lot until I was older, but now I appreciate it so much! I hope I’ll be the same one day :).
“My parents made travel possible through small and big adventures” – that was certainly true for me but Pork Belly’s wanderlust came right out of the blue – he’s the apple that fell furthest from the tree! Your parents sound like our kind of people and this is such a lovely tribute to them.
Thanks Rosemary! I was really happy to write this because I’m so grateful for those adventures. I think it’s great to find out how different people came to start travelling. Especially those who did just start to travel out of the blue!
Oh, I love this! It makes me appreciate my childhood even more. We used to go camping multiple times a year, and would often get out of the city (if you can still call Invercargill a city) during school holidays, but I never thought about any sacrifices my parents might have made in order for us to do this. I loved those road trips, and I guess that sparked the travel bug in me without my even realising!
Thanks Michelle! Haha I grew up in Feilding, so even tinier than Invercargill and getting out was still an adventure! I never thought about it that much either, but it’s something I’ve really come to appreciate. Camping might be cheaper than bigger trips but it’s still something our parents took time to organise and plan and do for us, and I really think it did spark my sense of adventure. So I’m glad to hear it was the same for you!