I was recently asked by a friend why I love to travel, and don’t I ever get tired of it?
That’s a good question and made me think for a while before answering.
There is no doubt I have had a passion for travel since I was 17 years old and I always will have.
On the other hand there have been times in my life when I have needed to travel weekly to the same places for business reasons, and that can definitely become routine and tiring.
I have been fortunate that, during my working life, I got to travel to many interesting places on business, and always tried to make sure I had a couple of extra days free to look around and experience what they had to offer.
So I spent some time thinking about this question, the many places I have visited, and what I enjoyed most about those places, and came up with 8 reasons why I love to travel. I have shared those experiences in this article.
I experienced my first flight was when I was 18. I was an apprentice at the “Hawker Siddeley Aviation’ aircraft factory in Hatfield, 20 miles north of London.
I was offered the opportunity to go on a test flight for the new Trident 3B passenger aircraft (similar to a 727). So, I and a hundred other employees set off on our maiden flight.
Yes, I was a bit nervous! But once we were airborne, that just disappeared as I gazed out of the window in wonder, and saw the world around where I lived from a whole new perspective.
That was the start of my love affair with aircraft, flying and travel that has lasted all my life. That was followed by annual holidays in Spain, Greece and the Mediterranean Islands.
When I was 20, just about to sit my final accountancy exams, I decided to apply to the Royal Air Force (RAF) for a pilot training course. It was an impulsive decision. I spent 3 days at the famous world war 2 RAF base at Biggin Hill going through intensive testing. Most of the guys in the group were experienced, many were members of the Air Training Corp (ATC) so knew the basics of flying a plane. Frankly I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t get the job, they did offer me aircrew training, but that was not what I wanted so, I became an accountant and got on with a “normal life”
When it comes to why I love to travel, these have been, and still are, my whys:
1. To experience new cultures
This, and the fact I was starting to feel trapped by the corporate rat race, was my why, when my wife and I packed our bags and left England to spend two years (which turned out to be 9 years) in the Middle East after I finished my Masters in Business in the late 70’s at the age of 26 (Yes, I am that old).
I moved with my family to take up a post as a management consultant with one of the big accounting firms to Tehran, little knowing that just 18 months later I would be leaving on one of the last flights out, a week before the Shah was overthrown by the revolution that had raged for the last 6 months of my time there (that’s another story).
Luckily my employers had offices in 12 other middle eastern countries and I was offered a position in Saudi Arabia (up till then not an attractive posting, but at that point grabbed with both hands).
Fortunately, 18 months later I was offered a great job in Dubai where we stayed and thrived for another 6 years, before relocating to Sydney with our family which had grown by then to 3 children.
Dubai was a great place to live at that time (Much busier and bigger today).
This was where I learnt to dive and catch big fish.
A tax free salary in Dubai gave us the opportunity to travel more frequently. We started with a 3 week Round the World trip taking in the USA, Hawaii, and several Asian counties. This trip reinforced my desire to see more. The US was amazing and I have been back many times, for business and holidays. Asia (initially Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand), opened my eyes to amazing cultures, history and scenery, as well as the equatorial climate.
So, we were fortunate to be able to emigrate to Australia, and Sydney has been our home ever since (save for 3 years on the Gold Coast in Queensland).
I believe that Australia is an amazing place to live and I have taken full advantage, visiting many parts of Australia that most tourists would never get to experience.
Three of my passions in life are scuba diving, fishing for big fish, and bird watching, so we have taken regular trips to the Islands on the Great Barrier Reef and had some amazing close encounters and experiences with the wildlife, above and below the surface.
Sydney is one of the most multi-cultural cities on the planet, and the level of racial harmony and tolerance is a credit to all concerned. Living here has enabled me to experience many more cultures in my home town.
2 To challenge myself
I believe that all growth is achieved outside your comfort zone.
When I moved to Tehran in 1977 (The year before the revolution) my wife and I rented a modern apartment. But the toilets were basically a hole in the ground you had to squat over and do your business. At least we had a flush, whereas the toilets along the roads were dry (smelly) ditches. That’s where I learnt to hold my breath for 2 minutes.
Along all the main streets there were irrigation streams known as Jubes. These served as drains, a place to urinate and also to wash your clothes in!
But the greatest challenge was driving. The streets were crammed with cars bumper to bumper and the rule of the road seemed to be if you edged your bumper in front of the car next to you, you had right of way. All the cars were scuffed with minor scratches from these close encounters. Major intersections had traffic lights and usually a traffic cop to try to enforce them. If he wasn’t there-it was a free for all. But I got used to it as I had to drive 10k to work every day on main roads.
I spent my last 6 months in Tehran with the revolution brewing and turning to violence. Funny, when you are there it’s never as bad as it sounds in the media. I used to get my news updates of what was happening at the end of our street from the BBC Home Service, and on many occasions had to spend 3 days at home alone (I had sent my wife and son back to England when it became too hot), keeping a “low profile”. That was when I became an expert at solo 😊
More recently I visited Egypt with my partner and our children. There were security issues, but not a big deal. We decided to do an overnight walk up Mt Sinai to see the sunrise. That was a long hard walk and when we arrived at the top it was freezing, but we had hired blankets on the way up, so were able to wrap up.
3. To enjoy new experiences
Our greatest memories in life are the “moments”: when we experience something special. They stay with us for our lifetime and stand out from the routine that is daily life.
Travel experiences in new places are always moments we will remember..
Three of my most treasured experiences have been:
In Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, we were privileged to meet with a Buddhist High :Lama who had achieved enlightenment.
In Egypt, we visited and entered one of the Pyramids in Giza, and visited the Egyptian Museum of Antiquates in Cairo, where we saw the contents of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and went inside the room of royal mummies, which was awesome. We all felt the energy …. hard to explain but real
Walking down Mt Sinai we visited the Church of Sinai a Greek Orthodox church at the foot of Mt.Sinai,. built in the 6th century, which is the home of the (reputedly) original burning bush where Moses received the 10 Commandments (really). Apparently, people have tried to take cuttings and plant them elsewhere, but it never takes root (see pic).
For me all of these were spiritual experiences, and there have been many more.
4. To find myself
Many people travel to places where they hope to find and experience their true selves. (Just as John, Paul, George and Ringo had in the late sixties, when their experience with the Maharishi changed their lives.
Others travel to Rome and Israel to visit the roots of their beliefs, or for Muslims the Holy Kaaba in Mecca (Saudi Arabia).
For me, this was my trip to Tibet and meeting the High Lama
5. To learn a new language
I went to Iran with English and basic German, and as much as anything, out of respect for the people I was determined to learn the language.
I had my “Teach Yourself Farsi” book and the advantage of becoming close friends with our landlord and his family who lived in the apartment upstairs. He was a Bazaree. selling Persian carpets in the Tehran Souk (market or bazaar). So, within a year I was able to communicate effectively in Farsi. Unfortunately, the revolution got in the way, but even today, I still get great pleasure when I meet an Iranian, by greeting them in their language and sharing my story. You’d be amazed how thrilled they are.
6. To have fun and meet interesting people
One great thing about travelling is the amazing people you meet. I have made great friends in many countries, and had some great times with them … too many to recall here. I won’t pick a favourite, but I have found the people in Thailand are the most friendly, genuine and humble people you could wish to meet.
7. To eat new food and experience new tastes
I am a pescatarian these days (Eat fish but not meat), but I love all Asian Food, Thai, Malaysian and Indian being my favourites. Somehow, in comparison, the traditional English meat and 2 veg, seems boring (although tastes have changed for the better in the UK over the years). I Love all seafood (except whole baby octopus which freak me out). I love seeing them in the ocean far better than eating them, Same with what we call Bugs (beautiful mini, lobster like, crustaceans) which yield a tiny amount of edible meat.
8. To see and do new things
I’ve seen the Taj Mahal, the walled city of Delhi and the Pink City of Jaipur in Northern India, all of which come with an abundant population of monkeys. climbed the Eiffel Tower and the Twin Towers, walked across the San Francisco bridge. And been inside the pyramids. I climbed to 15,000 feet on a snowy mountain in the Elbertz Mountains, north of Tehran. (in hindsight a crazy thing to have done on my own-looking for a particular species of bird)
I have had close encounters with crocodiles, horses, elephants, venomous snakes, and a huge carpet python in the eaves of my own home in Queensland, and seen many amazing birds. Not to mention poisonous spiders, including a Sydney Funnel web that dropped into my lap one morning when I got in my car and pulled down the visor (my kids told me they had never seen me move so fast).
I caught (and released) a 600-pound Marlin on the barrier reef and have dived with sharks and barracuda (shoals in the hundreds) on numerous occasions.
And I can’t wait for my next adventure.