Yep, it’s a thing and apparently I’m suffering from it.
Even after managing to dodge – so far – ‘le confinement’ (quarantine from C-19 just sounds so much better in French, oui?), I’ve now come to realize that I am indeed afflicted by travitude, another malaise I didn’t even know existed before 2020. But this one was pretty easy to catch since my formerly very busy travel schedule came to a freakin’ abrupt halt back in early March due to the formerly mentioned virus that I had also just added to my vocabulary. Gone were those planned business trips to Denver, Atlanta, Nashville, Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, and Quebec City (sigh), along with the Caribbean Island of Nevis (yes, for work involving long hours, but regardless I swear I would have been smiling the entire time). Plus a vacation for a destination wedding in Hawaii. And a bunch more, but I think you get the picture here about why I am now suffering from travitude, right?
But instead of crying in my empty suitcase, I recently took a mental trip down memory lane to focus on travel in my past that had changed me and wow, did I ever come up with quite a list of impressive trips! I wrote about a few of those excursions in an earlier post this year that you can read about here, but this month I wanted to focus specifically on life-changing journeys. You know the ones that open up new horizons for you, allow you to see things differently and possibly understand just a tiny bit better what makes the world such an interesting place and a hot mess all at the same time?
Yeah, I’m talking about those kind of trans-formative trips, and here’s my short list:
- My first epic family road trip driving from Michigan to California and back during a five week span one summer a long time ago. I believe I was in the fifth grade and learned so much from that ‘introduction to the USA’. I saw the majesty of mountains for the first time, met a girl my age who would become my very first pen pal from way far away (I think she lived in Denver and I remember being surprised that it didn’t require a first class postage stamp to send her my letters!), was bored to tears seeing all the cornfields in Iowa (no offense, I was young), played a game with my sister involving windmill counting as we drove threw Kansas wheat fields, saw my first palm trees when we finally, FINALLY reached California, plus so much more. But looking back on what I now remember from that fantastic summer trip was the enormous time span my parents devoted to our family just to make that journey. Planning. Packing. Mapping. I’m certain Daddy wanted us to learn what was out there in the world and mom wanted to make sure we were properly introduced to it all while still in the family unit.
- Shortly after that trip, I took my first journey on an airplane. From that experience I remember two things: I dressed up in my Sunday best including white gloves (yes, it was a thing back then and come to think of it maybe, due to C-19, we should all consider wearing those gloves again?), and I also decided then and there I didn’t really want to take road trips again. After that it was air travel all the way for me, baby!
- Jumping ahead a few years, I did follow that wanderlust and ended up working as a flight attendant, employed by a private charter so I had many unique and memorable experiences from those travels. But one trip in particular, the one that took me to China in 1978, was definitely life changing. I’m certain I had never seen an actual Chinese person before and for sure they had never seen a blonde, blue eyed American girl with painted finger and toenails. I know this because every time we got off a bus during our day tours there would be a huge crowd of people waiting for “the Americans” (tour groups were unheard of back then so word was traveling ahead of our arrivals), pushing towards us and closing in on myself in particular because of the long blond curly hair. I remember asking my guide “what is going on here?” and his response was, “they want to know how you grow red toes.” Not kidding! But putting it in context, in 1978 it was still pretty much Communist China. Mao Tse Tung had ‘just’ returned to ‘his heavenly temple’ (Side note to that: we did, in fact, see his body – or some wax semblance of it because he had already been dead for two years so seriously, how long can an embalmed guy last?- lying in state in the mausoleum built for him in Tienanmen Square) everyone-everywhere we went still wore the required black and white issued clothing and had fairly short straight black hair. Definitely no television had found it’s way across those borders thus the intrigue with seeing ‘mysterious’ blonde haired blue eyed Americans. We were as novel to them as they were to us, and as I write this it’s so hard to remember that China had just barely opened up to the world back then. Yes, it was a mind altering eye opening once in a lifetime experience because, although I have returned there since then, no visit to China could ever replicate the naive country on the brink of being introduced to the world that I witnessed in 1978.
“To travel is to understand that everyone else is wrong about other countries.”
So many other discoveries I’ve made through my travels here, there, and everywhere. At last count I’ve visited over 42 countries with plenty more on my wish list, so it’s no wonder that being grounded in 2020 has me in the doldrums of travitude. Sigh. Pause while daydreaming about Paris because there’s always that. . . and speaking of which, if you’re interested in one of my more ‘scandalous’ adventures to that city you can read about it here.
Anyway, how about you? If you’re reading travel blogs like mine then we must be kindred spirits, so feel free to briefly share in the comment section below any travel journeys from your past that have changed you and why.
“Travel leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
So go ahead, be a storyteller!