What I Learnt about Travel from My Family

Like many Australians, my childhood was crammed with long-weekend getaways, school holiday camping trips and rough journeys packed up in the back of a four-wheeled drive. You could say I was born to travel and my love of travel stemmed from this upbringing.

Travel for me started at an early age which meant I have my family to thank for my love of travel and all the lessons they taught me about travel along the way. Here are some of those lessons that stick out in my mind the most.

A lesson in patience…
“Are we there yet?” is the universal travel question kids will often ask while being taken on a long and arduous journey. I don’t recall asking this as a kid, though I probably did. What I do recall are the countless hours rumbling down the highway to reach our water-skiing destination or powering over endless sand-dunes to get to a remote beachside campsite or sleeping in the back of the car overnight because the drive from Perth to Kalbarri was so bloody long. These long road-trips put me in great stead to build my patience and accept the fact that the train ride from Cairo to Luxor will be an overnight journey, or the car ride from Lumbini in Nepal to Varanasi in India (in the middle of Diwali, mind you) will take 13 hours instead of the usual eight.   


A lesson in “roughing it”…
Australians love a good camping trip either during Christmas and Easter holidays or over one of the many long weekends we’re fortunate enough to enjoy. For me, the colloquial saying “roughing it” congers up many back-to-basics camping trips I endured as a kid. Digging a hole to go to the toilet, showering in cold water out of a bucket, sleeping in a freezing tent to the point where it hurt my chest to breathe and boiling water for tea on an open fire (the inspiration for the name of this blog) have all made me appreciate the finer travel moments in life. I’ve managed to tackle that putrid squat toilet on the train from Beijing to Xi’an while watching the tracks pass beneath my bum and I found the beauty in sleeping on the deck of a felucca on The Nile with little more than a sleeping bag.   


A lesson in planning ahead…
Whenever we would go away on weekends, it was an unwritten law that all our homework needed to be completed before we left so we could stay away as long as possible and not have to return early in order to finish it. I recall the wrath that was unleashed upon me one long weekend when I asked my family to return to Melbourne earlier than expected so I could finish an essay that was due the week after. Suffice to say, I have now developed finely-tuned foresight to plan my journeys so that I can stay as long away as possible without the worries of daily life creeping in to ruin the trip.


A lesson in the economy of space…
Space in the back of the car or four-wheeled drive was always hotly contested which meant we had to be economical in our packing and bag of choice. Otherwise, there was little room for those necessities like food and water. I can now pack minimally for long trips and I’m usually under maximum airline weights. You won’t ever see me trying to shove a roller suitcase into an overhead locker either!     


A lesson in “holding on”…
A lot of those long journeys as a child meant that toilet stops were far and few between. I would control my bladder by drinking only small amounts of drinks sparingly. While I don’t endorse causing self-inflicted dehydration, I must admit I partake in this strategy when I know that long distances need to be tackled within a strict timeline or if there are just not enough roadhouses along the way. I have an embarrassing memory of running into a men’s toilet instead of a ladies’ one because I was racing to a toilet as I was so “busting” to go.   


What valuable lessons have you learnt from your family when it comes to travel? Do you have any fun memories of learning these lessons?

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