My mom lived in the north of France; my dad in the south. The summer camp was in between their two hometowns, and when camp was over, they went back home to their respective universities.
They wrote letters back and forth, visited each other every few months, and eventually moved in together.
They moved five times between the time they met and the time I was two years old, and in the summer of 1994, they made the big move to the U.S.
People always ask me why my parents moved from France to Michigan with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old in tow; and I tell them what my parents told me: They wanted a new adventure.
Twenty-two years and countless moves later (including a two-year stint where they returned to France) they're still in states, and still traveling. They were my first travel mentors.
Everyone who has caught the travel bug caught it from someone, their very own travel mentor. Perhaps it’s your cool older nanny who lengthened her study abroad trip to Spain and hasn’t stopped moving since. Maybe it’s your favorite travel blogger, or a teacher who decided to dedicate her life to teaching English in foreign places.
The travel mentor inspires us to see the world. They give us travel advice, create our itineraries and tell us what it’s really like—the good, the bad and the ugly.
My parents passed on the travel bug to my brother and I, perhaps accidentally, and I didn’t realize it until I was in my 20s.
They packed up everything they owned that they deemed worthy of transporting across the Atlantic Ocean and landed outside of Detroit, MI, determined to learn English and the American culture so lionized in Europe.
We spent a couple years exploring the Midwest, and then we moved again. Eight-year-old Marie was not pleased. But Kentucky proved wonderful, and we thought we had found our forever home, complete with 16 acres, 2 horses, a few stray dogs and the most wonderfully southern neighbors.
But two-and-a-half years later, we moved again, and again and again, performing the same migration patterns every few years. And I continued to resent my parents for taking me away from my friends, completely oblivious to the fact that I was subconsciously being bitten by the travel bug.
I didn’t appreciate all the places I’d seen and lived in until I got to college, where everyone was from the same place. I purposely moved states for school without any pressure from my parents, which was, I suppose, the first time I willingly moved. And I finally realized how lucky I was. I was finally grateful for all those moves, all those school changes, all those experiences in new lands.
My travel mentors taught me that you can make the best of any situation, in any foreign land. They taught me that you can’t be limited by money, or oceans, if you want to go somewhere. They taught me to work hard for the experiences, not for the material possessions. They taught me that every travel experience, no matter how difficult, has a purpose in our lives and we should appreciate it to the fullest.
Who is your travel mentor? Have you passed on the bug to someone else, or are you becoming a travel mentor yourself? What life-changing experiences have you had thanks to the travel bug?