Traveling is something I’ve been lucky enough to have in abundance since I was a little girl as my family live all over the world. My mother is South African and my father English, so I grew up in England but my mum’s side of the family is large and all of her siblings dispersed from Apartheid ridden South Africa in the 80’s.
Thanks to my dad, they landed in a beautiful little seaside town in the north of England called Lytham St Anne’s, best known for hosting the British Golf Open at Royal Lytham, and that’s where I spent the first 18 years of my life growing from a peapod into a blossoming young woman.
Our summer holidays were religiously spent driving the hour and a half to Manchester airport and boarding a 7 hour flight to Toronto, where we’d be greeted by my uncle and be driven in his fancy Lincoln Town Car across the city to a place called Thornhill.
There, we would make ourselves comfortable and unpack in his basement for the three – sometimes four – weeks we were going to be in town.
My cousins from Israel often coordinated their dates and of course my three cousins that lived in Canada were also around, as were my grandparents so it was a big family gathering.
The whole catastrophe, as my uncle always nicknamed us, would explore the city, shop at the outlet malls and eat like royalty. For my two brothers and I, the North American lifestyle was fascinating and we’d always make sure to stock up on our favourite candies we discovered over the years and stuff them into our luggage as we headed back for England.
Our summers were fun, my uncle also had a cottage about a two hour drive from his city home so we also spent time on the lake building fires and toasting marshmallows, fishing in the early mornings and jumping off the highest dock.
From the cottage adventures and city shopping, we often took a few days or a week out of our trip to explore a different area. We once hired a car and drove south through the Finger Lakes and into New York. We visited Quebec where the only French word I knew, and therefore the only ice cream flavour I could have was “orange”. And the best of all, for my middle brother’s 13th birthday we flew to Vancouver where we spent a couple of days in a B&B, swimming in the coldest water known to man before boarding a cruise ship and sailing around Alaska for a week.
Up until the age of 18, I was lucky enough to have these annual adventures abroad that allowed me to experience so much and see so many different things. I loved the plane rides and getting ready to go. I loved seeing different places and meeting different people. I loved tasting the different foods and seeing the ways people lived. Most of all, it was about family for me, but sadly my grandparents became frail and when my final standing grandparent – my Poppa – passed on, these trips stopped.
I was already into my first year of a French degree by then, so I had the capacity to continue the travels and that’s what I did. I moved to France for a year where I fell head over heels for the Côte d’Azur. I found my feet and once I returned to uni after that year away, I began to travel as much and as often as I could back and forth from my little French hometown.
All I knew after this was that the world was too big and life was too short to stand still in one place for too long, but I didn’t know anything else.
Suddenly at 22 years old, everything fell into place by the gift of fate.
You’ll know a little about this from my previous post, or better yet from my book “From There to Here” if you’ve read that, but thanks to a man I’m now lucky enough to call my husband, I’ve spent the years since turning 22 traveling the world for work.
On various different yachts, I have visited over 20 countries in six years and feel grateful every single day for the opportunities.
It’s not a forever job, but for now it’s the life I know and it’s giving me an opportunity to see what’s out there in this big beautiful world. Every time I return to a place I’ve been before I’m able to see it from a different perspective, with different people and under new circumstances.
I suppose it’s thanks to my family being so spread out that I caught the travel bug so young and so strong, and I’m just grateful that my grandfather was able to support our plane tickets and my uncle could host us for those summer months we spent in Canada.
For this reason, there are certain places that hold extra special parts of my heart, but every single area I visit is a dream that I’ll be eternally grateful for – no matter what took me there.
I now have a competition with my middle brother on who’s visited the most countries. Last time we tallied, I was on 36 and he 35…