The who, what, when and where of my travel inspiration

Easyjet Holidays have come up with a great initiative amongst the travel bloggers to get people talking about what inspires them to travel, appropriately called #Inspiretravel on Twitter.   Our chance to be honest about the ‘who, what, when and why’ of our thirst for adventure.  I have been tagged by no less than 4 bloggers and EasyJet Holidays themselves so thanks to Emma of Sparkyseestheworld, Emma of Emmastraveltales, Deej of theworldofdeej and Chris from backpackerbanter for this opportunity…

Who:
Like most people, my parents inspired me to travel but unlike most people, it wasn’t because of anything they said or photos they showed me but because of something they did; they got divorced.
Until the age of 4, I was born and raised on a 45 square mile island called Jersey, 100 miles off the coast of South West England. When my parents split my mum needed the support of her family so we moved to Devon on the ‘mainland’ and I flew back to Jersey to visit dad during the school holidays.

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My travelling companion - Cherry

By the age of 6, my parents divorce unintentionally gave me one of the best starts in life a backpacker could ever hope for because at 6 years old, I could officially be classed as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ by the airline meaning that, whilst I would be helped to and from my flight, as soon as I sat on the plane, I was by myself with nothing but a backpack full of colouring books, my favourite teddybear and a bag of sweets to share with the cabin crew and other passengers. The situation prepared me for valuable lessons in life and on the road about starting conversations and talking to people I wouldn’t normally.

I was a solo, female backpacker from the age of 6 and without my parents divorce, I may never have discovered my thirst for travel.

What:

I found this question surprisingly difficult to answer.  Not because I didn’t know what to say but because I didn’t know how honest I wanted to be.
The sugar-coated answer would be that home inspires me.  It’s so beautiful that it makes me want to go out and discover more beautiful places by the coast around the world.
I live in a town no more than 10 minutes away from at least 3 beaches and less than an hour away from the sprawling National Park of Dartmoor that overlooks the coastline; I couldn’t ask for a more inspirational place if I tried. Seeing such beauty all around inspires me to go out and see the beauty that other people call home.

Nothing but the blue

My local beach

Dartmoor

The real answer is that running away from home is what inspires me the most. 

It’s not that I hate my family or have no friends; it’s not the people I want to leave, it’s the memories.  When you’ve lived in a place for over a decade, it becomes part of who you are and sadly, I don’t like the part that home takes up in my soul.  I’ve had happy times in my town, I know I have, but I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember them much as they are over-shadowed by the sad times.  I haven’t had a ‘hard life’ in the traditional sense but emotionally?  Emotionally my town reminds me of things my heart would rather forget.   It reminds me that the only time I have ever felt heart-burstingly happy is when I leave it.

So yes, like many, home inspires me to travel but it’s leaving it that makes me the happiest. 

When:
Truthfully? April 20 2010. That was the day my heart felt a happiness I had never experienced before; the moment one Manta Ray inspired me to change my life. I’d been on package holidays for years to wonderful places but always felt as though something was missing; it wasn’t until I began my 3 month solo trip around Asia that I began to appreciate just how special the world was.
The above date marks my first full day on a liveaboard diveboat in the Similan Islands, Thailand. I’d passed my Open Water Course just two days before and I was nervous as I jumped in for the first time but from the moment I descended, I was in an entirely different world; one that I had only ever seen on TV or read about in books; I was already mesmerised.

Then I saw her; my first ever Manta Ray. Seeing her 4ft ‘wingspan’ glide towards me so effortlessly spoke a language only my heart could understand. Nothing else mattered in the moment. I wasn’t worried about my breathing, my travel funds or the broken heart I left home with, I was simply content. I knew instantly just how beautiful the world could shine and how deeply you could feel it and searching for the next experience that recreates those feelings are what keeps me travelling today.

Where:
The Ocean, wherever I view it. So many people say that the ‘world’ is beautiful only really referencing land but have you ever looked under the surface? Do you have ANY idea just how stunning our waters are? Can you ever comprehend just how magical it feels to watch 5 Manta Rays dance amongst your air bubbles for an hour? I can and let me tell you – it speaks to your soul.
You swim parallel to the coral and see a fish in the anenomae; you may be calm on the outside but inside your head is screaming ‘Nemo! I found Nemo! And he’s got a family!!’ and you smile as you realise that there is no corporate world or class system under water, just your excitement at seeing something through a child’s excited eyes.


And when you reach the surface and you’re sat on the boat or the beach watching the sun set over the sea, your heart is awakened even further. Something that happens 365 days of the year suddenly becomes so much more powerful.  

As the suns rays reflect on the surface, you begin to reflect on your own life and there is NOTHING more inspiring than gaining perspective on your life and finding yourself.

As I have taken a while to write this, most people have already been tagged so I’m going to tag a very special person for this…my dear friend Erik of Onmyfeetorinmymind.  Take it away Erik…

Leave a Reply

17 comments

  1. Great stories! I couldn’t even imagine traveling solo at age 6. Yet a whole new world was opened to you in the midst of a tough period in your life. You’ve had a lot of great experiences and hope you continue to enjoy your life on this journey.

  2. Jill

    Great reading Toni. I can’t believe you still have Cherry:-)

  3. Pretty photos, Toni!

    I’m glad that something positive came from what could have been a difficult time (and I’m sure it still was) as a child. Air travel probably held a mix of excitement (doing it on your own!) and being at ease (with practice).

  4. Jill – I’ll always have Cherry! 🙂

  5. Emma – thank you lovely…glad you enjoyed 🙂

  6. Heather – thanks hun…it’s nice to have such a pretty place to take photos of! 🙂 It was definitely fun ‘growing up’ on air travel by myself; adored it from the first moment! 🙂

  7. You are such an amazing person, every time I read your writing I am blown away. Stay awesome!

  8. wow you started 2 year earlier than me.I started at age of 8, ran away from family to visit lake which would take me 2 days walk from my house and to witness giant mountains.From early age I was fascinated by mountains and still I am.
    This passion last year gave me spirit to walk across east west of Nepal (Great Himalaya Trail) about 2000km alone.
    Keep doing good job.
    Wish you good luck with upcoming adventures.

  9. Jeremy – I think that since I started so young, I didn’t really know anything else so it felt pretty normal and I loved that all the crew and pilots thought I was special/brave 🙂 Thanks for your ongoing support!

  10. Erik – I really don’t know what to say; you’re far too kind but I always love and appreciate your honesty, friendship and support Erik…YOU are the amazing person 🙂

  11. Great answers – and I never knew six-year-olds were allowed to fly alone! I would’ve thought it would be ten, or twelve, or something.

  12. Oh, and I would appreciate a tag here since I seem to be the last one not to be tagged 🙂 I will try to get to it before I leave on Thursday ….

  13. Rachel – thank you! It’s funny you should mention 12 years old – that’s the age you’re considered an ‘adult’ on some airlines haha. The crew would check up on me throughout the flight but yes, essentially, I was a solo backpacker 😀

  14. What a moving and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it.

  15. Kathryn – thank you for the kind words 🙂

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