A typical question people ask travellers is a variation of, “When did you know you wanted to travel?” I find it hard to answer that question, because either I was bitten by the bug too early in life to remember or I was born with it running through my blood. I like to think the latter.
Looking back through my family history, I think I was conditioned to want to travel. My maternal grandfather worked for an oil company and moved around the world with his job. Once he was married and started a family, he took them with him. One of my favourite things growing up was telling people that my mum had lived in Pakistan. Unfortunately my Grandpa passed away before I even turned two so I never got to ask him questions about all the wonderful places he had lived.
On the other side of my family, my paternal grandparents, whilst they didn’t reach as exotic destinations as my Grandpa, they travelled around Europe and America whenever they could. Spend ten minutes with them discussing anywhere in the UK and guaranteed they have been there. 50 years on they will still be able to tell you the exact hotel, restaurants and sights they visited, what the hotelier’s name was and what they ate for breakfast.
So my grandparents’ passion for travel was passed down to my parents. My mum was a travel agent for a while. My brother and I grew up hearing stories about our parents’ trips together before we were born. We were also a big documentary watching family and Sunday nights would often see us all gathered to watch the latest BBC offering, which would send me to sleep dreaming of far away places.
A mini road trip with my family in America showed me how exciting travel could be. We spent a few days pulling into strange towns, picking the motel for the night as we went. Not knowing where we would stay that night or even if we would make it to a motel (my brother and I were quite dramatic and rationed our snacks one evening) was thrilling for a young teenager. My parents encouraged us to take part in any school trips we could and my mum taught me an important lesson by booking her trip of a lifetime on a whim because “life is too short”.
Somewhere along the line I must have decided that I was going to take a gap year between college and university. I’m not sure when because I had been talking about it for the whole of secondary school. Everyone knew I was and I ticked the deferred option on my UCAS form without any doubts.
So that’s why I don’t think I was bitten by the travel bug. I think it was in me all along.