• Sandy Reynolds

Prioritize for post-pandemic travel

I hear a lot of people talking about how much they miss travelling. We are accustomed to globe-trotting as a way of life.

I've written before about my love/hate relationship with travel. Before this year officially became the 'year we all stayed home' I had already decided I wanted to travel less frequently and more intentionally. In fact, I had declared 2020 the year of no travel. I have to admit it feels very different making a choice not to travel than it does being told I can't travel. I don't like being told I can't do something.

The photo above was taken in Twillingate, Newfoundland and it was the last trip I made. It's where my dad grew up. He died two years ago, and I went with my sister last September to spread his ashes 'down-home'. 

It was only the second time in my adult life I visited Newfoundland. The first time was with my parents about ten years ago. It was eye-opening. As we drove around the island, my dad shared stories from his childhood. They were glimpses of a life far removed from the childhood I experienced growing up in Toronto. There were stories that would never have been told if we weren't there conjuring up memories. 

While I have great memories of that trip what I cherish most is the appreciation and understanding I gained of my dad and how his childhood shaped him. 

My dad had a strong dislike for anything he felt hinted at pretension. (Or bullshit as he preferred to call it.) My dad was not a people-pleaser. He said what he thought and didn't really care how anyone felt about it. He didn't like to dress up. He wasn't impressed with possessions. He was a practical man who preferred the simple things in life. 

Returning to Newfoundland with him and experiencing the wild landscape where he roamed as a child explained a lot to me. He defined a good life outside of material possessions. I understood why he liked being out in nature. My childhood summer included weekends outside the city on picnics, vacations at a cottage or hauling our tent trailer somewhere. I understand why he loved fishing and wild blueberries. I get why he didn't believe in buying things you didn't need. I appreciate his values of simplicity and making things last.

I took a similar trip with my mom to Ireland. Those two trips are cherished memories for me. I tell people all the time now, "If you can, travel with your parents to where they grew up." 

Of course, right now, we can't travel, but that doesn't mean those stories have to be lost. You can make time to go through albums and memorabilia with your loved ones. If you live in the place, they grew up even better. Take a drive and see the school they went to and any other landmarks that are significant. Talk to them about their life - not the life you remember as a child but get their perspective on what was happening. I guarantee it will open your eyes.

When we hear the stories of other people's lives not only do we gain insight into what shaped them, we also understand how that in turn shaped us. How did I become a people-pleaser being raised by someone who had little time for the opinions of others? I've thought a lot about that question. Have you ever wondered about the roots of your own values? 

This week on Reframe Your Life, we interviewed Alison Wearing. Her memoir, Moments of Glad Grace, details the week she spent in Dublin with her 80-year-old father. Her father has Parkinson's Disease, and she knew this was probably the only chance she would have to travel with him. The twist? He wanted to research their family ancestry, a pursuit that Wearing had no interest in whatsoever. Still, she signed on and wrote a beautiful story about their time together. And like me, she came away with a deeper understanding of her dad. Our conversation is rich and we explore legacy, ancestry and story. You can listen to it here

We've been told we need to travel to experience the world.  I'm all for travel with intention. I'm not interested in accumulating stamps in my passport at this point. I'm looking for a deeper connection with the places I visit. I'm exploring slow travel and spending longer in one place.  

If you've been feeling disappointed that you are missing out on exploring the world, why not try seeing ith through a different lens?  Try cooking one of your traditional family meals and dig out some photos and share stories. You'll see these places with a new perspective and isn't that what travel is all about?

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