Travel Bloggers: Where Did Your Travel Bug Come From?
By Veronica Moore
As we are sitting in our quarantines I got busy. There are travel bloggers all over the world who have experienced travel in all sorts of ways. Many start travel from a young age or within their formidable years which shaped the rest of their lives. I asked them a few questions:
Where was it that you found your love for travel?
What experience triggered the travel bug in you and what was that transformation like? This could have been at any time in your life. We are just aiming for an authentic experience that changed your travel experiences thus far.
I think my true love of travel came after my first solo adventure down to New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia back in 2009. I say “I think” because I had some awesome smaller travel experiences before that, including my first truly solo trip to Boston, MA in 2008 and a University Marketing trip to Denmark in 2005.
But when I think of that big solo trip down under, that’s when I think I really caught the travel bug. In fact, I would say it was the short 1-week trip I took during my time in Australia when I flew over to Bali on a whim. Back in 2009, I didn’t even know what Bali was, little lone Indonesia, but it was only a 2-hour flight and seemed like an exotic thing to do.
For some reason, Australia was always the place I wanted to go to. Before 2009, I was pretty ignorant in terms of travel and geography. But Australia just seemed so far away. So different. So, I chose Australia and did a 3-week stopover in New Zealand on the way. But besides the trip itself, it was the activities I immersed myself in that changed my life.
Prior to going, I wasn’t really a thrill-seeking guy. But for some reason, the first day I landed and checked in at my hostel in Queenstown, I signed myself up for skydiving. It was advertised at the check-in counter and I signed up for the following day. I don’t know what came over me but after checking that insane activity off of my bucket list, I was thirsty for more. Matt’s website
I have been traveling all my life, as my parents were passionate about travel and they were always exploring the world.
One trip in 1974 saw them visit Tahiti, Mexico City, Florida, Dublin, England, Los Angeles, and Honolulu – with a 7-month old baby, a 4-year old and a 7-year old.
This was in the days before the internet and Tripadvisor, and even before the Lonely Planet guidebooks were readily available.
As teachers, they never had a large disposable income, so this was always done on a budget. Some of my earliest memories include watching a cultural dance in Bali and taking a river cruise in Bangkok.
It was this exciting start to my life that has influenced me greatly and is the reason I am so passionate about family travel today. My family travel blog Mum on the Move focuses on how having children doesn’t have to mean the end to cultural or adventurous travel.
I see traveling with kids as an important part of their overall education. It broadens our mental horizons, increases cultural understanding and acceptance, and encourages curiosity and a thirst for learning.
On reflecting back, I can’t actually attribute getting the ‘travel bug’ to one specific destination. But I started traveling for the adventure, adrenaline, and excitement.
And it didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to see the world in living color as opposed to watching it on a television screen. I wanted to actually feel, taste, and experience the world instead of settling for the version I was reading in books.
As I started traveling I found myself thrust into new environments, immersed in entirely new cultures, hearing the English language spoken with an unfamiliar accent; and I realized this feeling of new discovery was what I wanted out of life.
I don’t think I can pinpoint one specific trip which had a transformative effect. I think I have changed as a person from my travel experience overall. So if I’m allowed to answer with ‘travel itself’, I think that would be more accurate – for me at least!
Because of traveling, I like to think I am a very grounded, well-rounded person, able to accept and listen to all points of view, appreciative of all world cultures. Travel taught me how to survive by myself – taught me to become street smart. It taught me that kindness exists in the world, and that strange cultures should be explored and not judged.
It continually teaches me new skills and has opened my mind to new perspectives on history and politics. Because of travel, I will forever be curious, and forever be intrigued by different cultural norms, and forever have a thirst for world knowledge and new experiences.
Our family has always traveled, and, for me, it is just a part of life. I later found, when at times I haven’t been able to travel, how very
important it is to me!
Having been practically born with the travel bug (thanks, mom and dad!), I’d like to share how it grew into a king-kong sized travel bug! When I was in junior high, we hosted an exchange student from Japan for the summer, though 4-H. This, more than previous visits from our German side of the family, and gifts from travels from both sides of the family, and travels ourselves, did it.
I was fascinated by this in-depth look at a culture through the eyes of someone my own age. The following summer, I was lucky enough to be an exchange student to Japan and stayed with Yumiko and her family. That did it!
From watching Japanese game shows and Jaws in Japanese dub to the tofu guy on his bike to making my own buckwheat soba with an ancient gramma who was WAY stronger than I was, I fell in love—with Japan, with a wide-open worldview, with travel, with international exchange, and with the joys and challenges of intercultural living.
Travel has informed my education, including my doctorate in international education, my life’s work in study abroad and international exchange, the way we raise our daughter, the way I teach, and the way I live. It’s amazing. I’m so lucky!
My family would take a vacation every year when I was growing up, and it was a tradition that I always looked forward to.
When I was 5, we took a trip to Disney World, and my favorite park was Epcot. I remember visiting all of the different countries throughout the park, vowing to visit them all in person someday. I’d say that’s where my love of travel started.
Even though my family traveled quite a bit when I was growing up, we never traveled internationally. So, when I was a senior in college, I went on a study abroad trip to Paris and London, and it was my first time outside the USA.
That experience opened my eyes to the possibility of international travel and suddenly anything became possible. It showed me that I was capable of exploring another country and gave me the confidence to book future trips abroad. I’ve had the travel bug ever since!
The travel bug (and for me, it’s less of a bug and more of a full-sized creature) took hold in stages.
Stage 1 happened in early childhood, with 400-mile train trips to visit my grandparents each summer. This eventually inspired an evangelical love of long-distance train travel. Little did I know I would grow up and write a book about some of my train adventures, covering 26,000 miles through 11 countries, in 44 days.
Stage 2 happened when I was 9 years old and saw a documentary about Europe in school. I was fascinated by this place where I didn’t recognize anything from the architecture to the language, to even the food and local garb. My big question at the time was “how do the children play?”
This question consumed me and as I grew up it evolved into “How do the adults play? What do they eat? What do people talk about around the dinner table?” And ultimately, “How do people live their lives?” I wanted to hack into the lives of local cultures around the world to see both our similarities and our differences.
Stage 3 happened when I was 16 years old, and I toured China with ballet as an orchestra member. The trip was far from seamless, but the experience of being so far out of my element was exhilarating, and from that moment on I made travel a priority in my life.
The thing is, vacations didn’t really answer any of the questions inspired by Stage 2 of my travel obsession, so eventually, at the age of 30, I sold everything I owned to travel the world on an open-ended ticket. I traveled full-time for 12 years, and although I have a home base in Canada again, I continue to travel for about half of each year.
I found my love for travel on a senior trip to Cancun, Mexico. I loved being in a new place with a different language.
Though most people loved the party scene, I was more excited about snorkeling for the first time and visiting the Mayan ruins. I was 18 and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to see more places in the world.
My travel bug was really triggered when I took my first solo international solo trip to the Azore Islands. I already loved to explore and see new places and meet new people, however that trip really showed me that I was capable of venturing out and exploring on my own.
It showed me how much beauty there is in the world and that I didn’t need to wait on anyone else to have those experiences.
I went from being someone that would only travel with friends or with my partner, to a woman that was not afraid to venture off to a destination both domestic and abroad alone. In fact, it changed me so much that even when I travel with a group of friends, I plan in at least a day or two to go off on my own to explore away from the group.
I think I have had a love for travel since I was a kid. My father was a fireman and had 30 days of vacation per year.
He always saved up his time off and took it in one lump sum during the summer. We would travel throughout the US staying at State and National Parks in a travel camper we towed behind the family car.
Once there, we camped in the park and visited all the nearby sites. Over the years I traveled to the Grand Canyon, saw the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, visited Disney Land in California and the many historic sites throughout the South.
I saw more of the US than many of my friends and it gave me an appreciation of travel and learning about places that I still love.
Later after high school, I joined the military and over the next 20 years was stationed throughout the world. This also offered me the opportunity to travel to Europe, Asia, and Central America. After retiring from the military I worked as a government contractor for the military which allowed me to travel extensively throughout the world during my time off.
I enjoyed the opportunity to travel to places other than the major tourist attractions, meet people and learn about different cultures which fueled my interest in writing about it and sharing those places with others that had not or could not travel to such places.
My first trip was when I was fresh out of school with my school mates. We went inter-railing around West Europe. This marked me and I have since always tried to visit a new place with every opportunity or holiday I got.
My first solo trip was a 6 months backpacking adventure in South America in my mid-twenties.
My big solo adventure around South America was definitely a trigger for me. By this point I was in my mid-twenties, wondering what to do with my life career-wise. Being away from home, on your own, exploring a new place, you quickly learn not to sweat the small stuff and to appreciate life around you.
It made me realize how insignificant most of life’s worries are. This experience also inspired me to return home to pursue a career in law to use as a foundation to pursue something more rewarding in the future, ideally within the LGBTQ community.
To answer your question – for me travel wasn’t something I did a lot of growing up in rural northern Wisconsin.
I did get to travel in the US some but I really started to love the idea of travel and new places through books. I read a LOT and learned about the world this way. Even though I wanted to see these places I never was sure if it would be something I would ever get to do but books let me go to all the places I was curious about.
My first big trip was when I was 16 and my high school art teacher put together a trip for us to travel to Greece and Turkey. As soon as I landed in Athens I think something changed in my brain and I knew that travel had to be a part of my life. It was an amazing experience and it left me dreaming of the next trip.
Marina K. Villatoro
A few years ago, my family and I took a 6 week trip to Spain. We loved it so much, we’ll be moving there in a year. We had plans to do it before, but with the events of the world, we are postponing it until March 2021.
I always had a passion for travel, maybe because it was the only good memories I had from childhood. But the REAL love came to me when I was 19 and did a study abroad program and then my parents gave me one month to backpack through Europe, stay at hostels, Eurail, etc… and after that, there was no turning back.
Once I came back, it took me 8 years of saving up and mentally preparing myself, but when I turned 27 years old, I sold everything, put my backpack on and took off.
I had intentions of traveling the world, but after 4 months, met my husband in Guatemala. I still ended up traveling for another year, but only stayed in Latin America.
Then I came back to the States, saved some more, married my Guatemalan husband and we moved first to Costa Rica and now have been living in Guatemala for the past 18 years. And we are raising 2 trilingual, global citizen sons, who love to travel as much as their mama.
I was house and pet sitting on the Caribbean island of Nevis. I had stepped into the shoes of a retired couple who were off-island visiting family and thanks to their friends and neighbors I was inducted into island life in a matter of minutes. Having the opportunity to soak in a culture so far removed from my own was awesome and made me realize just how beneficial travel experiences can be.
I was working as an exhibition assistant for a London art gallery when I made the decision to down tools and travel for a year. I was 23 at the time and had transitioned from school to university and then straight into a job so I figured I’d better leave home and see a bit of the world before life took hold and I settled down. It was an exciting time but one filled with challenges.
First I had to explain to my parents why I was leaving a good job, then I had to get my finances in order and ensure I had enough money to fund the itinerary I’d planned. I knew from the start that I was making the right decision but it wasn’t until a few weeks into my trip that I realized just how the experience would affect me. Needless to say, I was bitten pretty hard by the travel bug – my planned 12 months away turned into over six years!
Growing up in a Texas suburb to young parents who went no further than the neighboring town meant that my exposure to the greater world was reliant on both sets of grandparents who traveled the world extensively.
One set living in Colombia and the other in Taiwan, I was exposed to snippets of what existed outside of my Texas bubble through their letters and trinkets I received.
My first real experience with travel, however, was when I was 10 years old and visited my cousins in San Francisco for the summer. This was the start of my dreams of someday living in California. Once those dreams were realized in my college years, it was time to explore further afield. The travel bug really took hold after my first trip abroad.
For months I attended Rick Steve’s talks and scoured his books to meticulously plan a 4-week backpacking trip in Europe. I ended up going on my own due to factors outside of my control and had the time of my life. Of course, my perfectly planned trip was quickly thrown by the wayside as I met new people and explored well off my itinerary! This was the beginning of a now 20-year obsession.
From the moment I returned I began planning my next solo journey which was to China. From that point on, all I could think about was travel and when/where my next trip would be. Almost all solo trips – to Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Peru, Bolivia and more.
After several years of saving all of my vacation time and money for my yearly trips, I decided to go bigger. I wanted to take the year off to travel the world. It was then that I met my now-husband who lived in India. My long term travel plans were thrown off track when I arrived in India. I stayed for almost a decade, widening my world beyond measure.
Living and working in a culture so different from my own firmly cemented my love for adventure, culture and experiencing all that is on offer around the world. I had my son in India and have now hung up my solo travel cape to share the world with my 9-year-old son. In 9 years we have explored 34 countries – adventuring in the Galapagos Islands, boating down the Amazon and backpacking across Southeast Asia.
Travel has been a part of my life almost from the day I was born. My dad had an insatiable curiosity for the world and everything in it and he began exploring at a very young age.
Whether by genetics or by example he passed that curiosity on to me.
As soon as I was old enough to work, the majority of my earnings would go towards experiences rather than material things and I was forever brainstorming on how I could travel more. For many years I lived a “normal life” and settled for short annual vacations.
Then one day a series of events shattered my life and I found myself at a crossroads which led me to finally follow my dreams. I sold everything and set off to see the world. Seven years later I’ve never been happier.
Traveling to the extent that I do is definitely not for everyone. But I believe that stepping away from the familiar and discovering new places, even close to home, is a great way to grow as a person. I also believe it helps to connect humanity as a whole and can lead to more peace in the world.
The accumulation of the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and the adventures I’ve had have opened my mind and my heart in a way that would never have happened if I hadn’t traveled.
I got my love for travel from my grandfather, a well-traveled geography teacher. I remember he gifted me a giant atlas when I was 3 or 4 years old and I was stepping over different countries on the Atlas imagining that I’m in a new country every time and wondering how people on the other side of the globe are living. Little did I know that one day I will actually get the chance to visit all of these countries.
I have always kept an open mind while traveling and I always try to mingle with locals as much as possible but the event that triggered me to keep exploring and seeing the different yet so similar way of life in different countries was the kindness of a local man in Kashmir. His name was Tashi and I was fortunate enough to meet him during the most difficult part of our trip.
While in Kashmir, we were robbed and lost most of our financial assets when the owner of the hotel we were staying at introduced us to Tashi, a guy who was supposed to give us a lift to the next town from where we could get a train to Jammu, the only place from where we could get back to Delhi. However, not only did he not take our money for the lift, but he also opened his house to us letting us stay with his family as a way of ‘repaying us for the trouble we experienced in his town’.
During this time, I saw how this man living in this God-forgotten place who I can’t even speak to in the same language (he did not speak English) isn’t very different from me. We live for the same things, share the same fears, and hope for the same things. It was at this time when I felt the barrier between us and them fading away and this experience has been pushing me to travel, explore, and learn as much as I can about as many different cultures as I can.