I can honestly say that one of the best things I have ever done was make the decision at a very young age to travel the world. Without realising it, I’d set myself my first life-long, mind-expanding goal which was to bring me great pleasure throughout my life. It has also provided me with amazing annual goals which I’ve been ticking off ever since!
When I was 16 years old, I asked (no, begged!) my parents to allow me leave school and send me away to study abroad in France. I am ever thankful they said yes. Following some research and travel planning, one cold January morning in 1983, my parents and I jumped into our car and my father drove us from the Lake District in the north of England (a beautiful English National Park and now UNESCO World Heritage site) where we lived, all the way across the English Channel to an equally beautiful place, the world-famous Loire Valley in France.
After a couple of weeks of feeling homesick and not understanding a word anyone said and my parents refusing to come and ‘rescue’ me, I started to change, adapt and slowly adjust to my new life; getting totally stuck in. As one of the youngest international residents there, it took me a while to adopt a new routine and lifestyle as I’d never been in a foreign country on my own before and didn’t speak the language (French being one of my weaker subjects at school). I stayed for the agreed six months, learnt about world cultures from the other students and learnt to speak French. I also studied and sat the famous French Baccalaureate exam, made some great friends and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Most importantly, I learnt a huge amount about myself.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
This was the starting point of my travelling the world and working abroad - which I still do today. By the age of 22, I had lived and worked in Spain, France and Australia. Since then, I have travelled extensively visiting every continent worldwide (except Antarctica, which is on my goals list…Brrrr!) and latterly to various countries speaking at international events such as Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong and many parts of Northern and Southern Europe.
What I enjoy most about travelling is the alternative perspective you get from being in a different and unknown place, sometimes close to home or sometimes thousands of miles away. Seeing people in their own cultures can be so educational and eye-opening. Getting the viewpoints of all the amazing people one meets along the way can often be a humbling experience. It can certainly ground you, re-focus you and help to identify the important things in life. We can all learn so much from other cultures and it’s true to say, travel is good for the soul.
Taking all that into consideration, I have ongoing goals of places I want to visit and my list seems to be growing rather than shrinking. I have just visited the East Coast of South Africa and been on safari; something I’ve wanted to do for 30 years. It’s only because I put it on my 2017 goals list that it’s happened. It was a truly amazing and life-enhancing experience and I learnt so much about Africa, conservation and what we can do to help save the world's endangered species. I believe travel should be part of everyone’s annual goals and I certainly encourage all my clients, family and friends to add at least one destination, not previously visited, to their goals list every year. If we all travelled more and experienced new cultures, I’m sure the world would become a more tolerant and happy place. I wish you all a very happy time researching, planning and anticipating your next perspective-changing trip!
Wishing you all success.