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By Savannah Grace


Exhausted trekking in Nepal

My first travel experience was the biggest transformation of all. Aside from family camping trips through the USA as a child and local tourist attractions near Vancouver, Canada, I was a complete travel virgin. Nothing could have prepared me for the first travel adventure I was about to embark on in 2005 when I was just 14 years old. My loving parents had recently separated, my brother was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and my other brother was being shipped to Iraq as a soldier. As if times weren’t hard enough as a teenage girl, dealing with all the drama, my mother decided it would be the perfect time for us to pack up our lives and backpack around the world for a year.


Hiking in China

Starting in China I left kicking and screaming, terrified of the unknown and devastated to be leaving my friends, my family and life as I knew it behind. Little did I know that this “year-long” trip, starting in Hong Kong, would take me through 80 countries with my family over the course of 4 years, and ultimately be the reason why I ended up married to a Dutch man and starting a family of my own in The Netherlands. When I took my first steps off the plane in China, legs quivering under the weight of my new home strapped to my back and palms sweaty from the humidity and nerves, I was as lost, overwhelmed and distraught as I could be. I’d literally been ripped away from my life, like a turtle from its shell, and I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

Despite my best efforts to whine and drag my feet as we traversed through muddy rice terraces, bustling cities, monasteries and up mountains, I slowly began to see the world and its people with open eyes. Cultures revealed their hearts to me, languages showed me diversity, landscapes gave me endurance and my family taught me the true meaning of trust and love. As months passed I came to love the quick pace of my nomadic life as we travelled through history on the Silk Road from Kyrgyzstan to Europe in the footsteps of famous explorers and conquers like Ghengis Khan, Marco Polo, Alexander the Great and Napoleon. I was fascinated as I literally watched faces, landscapes, languages, currencies and cultures transform right before my eyes.

My first travel experience moulded me into a modern day explorer, author of two travel memories (“I Grew My Boobs in China” and “Backpacks and Bra Straps”) and currently sitting on an airplane with my 4-month-old son headed to Reykjavik, Iceland, my 112th country and his 5th. Having come from an upbringing with travel so deeply engraved and knowing the positive results it’s had in my life, it is so important for me to share that empowering, educational, eye opening gift with my children. I just hope their first memories of travel experiences are more welcome than mine were!

Do you remember your very first travel experiences? How did they effect you and did your view on traveling change as a result of them? Share in the comments below and come join us for our live Twitter chat on #TRLT tomorrow (Tuesday January 16th) for a chat on “first travel experiences”.

Greetings from Iceland

Savannah Grace