I thought it was time to revise this post. It has been a few years since it was written (2014) and a lot has changed.
I want people who are struggling through change to know that although the road can seem impossibly long, there is hope, there is an end and there is a brighter path that you will find.
Have patience, not only with yourself but with the journey itself. Find joy where you can and know that everything leads to a better place and a stronger you.
Yes, of course, Travel Charm is about travel. But it is also much more than that.
Travel Charm and its philosophy were born from my own travel and life experiences.
But they weren’t just travelling experiences. Travel turned into a personal journey beyond belief and set me on the path to a new life.
Travel Charm’s philosophy has changed a little since the outset, but the desire and passion to show people that their travel dreams can come true is still there.
I am 100% driven to help people find the gifts that travel offers – to see the world, find joy and strength within yourself, experience different ways of life and culture, to see all the beauty the world has in abundance and live fully in the moment.
One of my favourite quotes by Danny Kaye says it all for me.
“To Travel is to take a Journey into Yourself”.
At times, the last six years have felt like an uncontrollable roller coaster that I thought I would never get off. But finally, things settled.
And it has been the most incredible journey of my life.
Some years ago I had been travelling as a family of four (my then husband and two kids aged 14 and 10) through the USA and Europe for two months.
Everyone else in my family had gone home (or on to other destinations), and I headed to Greece to meet a girlfriend for ten days starting our visit in Athens and finishing in Santorini.
The story didn’t just begin there.
A change had been in the wind for a time in my personal life, but I hadn’t looked at it clearly. Looking back I don’t think I had wanted to. Or was ready to. The enormity of it was too much.
But I digress, sorry. Back to Santorini.
One afternoon I found myself on a traditional sailing boat motoring in the middle of the caldera.
We had just been swimming in that amazing turquoise water (I’m sure you’ve seen it in pictures) and I was sitting at the front of the boat by myself.
The breeze was playing across my skin, and I could feel the sun, warm on my back. I was looking up at those cliffs with the white buildings and blue domes and feeling so incredibly lucky to have this experience.
At that moment, I realised for the first time EVER that I felt like me – not a mother, not a wife, not a daughter – just me. It was the first time I ever really felt confident and happy in my own skin. It was the first time I had ever felt 100% me.
That may sound strange to some, but for someone who has battled anxiety, low self-esteem and zero confidence most of her life, this was an extraordinary feeling. It was liberating in a way I find difficult to describe.
That small moment changed my life forever.
That moment led me to find courage, independence, confidence and self-esteem that I had never had before or acknowledged.
In that moment it all hit me.
And so too did the understanding that I had to start dealing with some big issues.
That significant moment is what drives me
To this day that feeling, that significant moment in time is what drives me to continue living a life that is worthwhile.
After a divorce, single parenting, single life, no money, starting a business and now having two grown children I am so proud of, a life partner who is wonderful and a life that I am grateful for every day, I can honestly say that the journey has been worth every minute.
And that has finally led me to know EXACTLY what I want to give to people through Travel Charm.
I have always wanted to create magical travel experiences for all my travellers. But each time I came to the same hurdle.
Initially, I wanted to help women like me. Women going through immense personal change. Those who found themselves suddenly alone and wanting to live their dream of travel but not having anyone to travel with.
I wanted to organise groups, foster independence within the group itinerary and support each other.
But things weren’t quite right
But with all organised tours and not just my own, you can never cater to the individual so they get as much as they can out of the experience. It will never be unique and personalised.
Friends have travelled on tours, and the feedback is similar. It was the same on my own group trips.
They loved that their travel was organised, but sometimes they craved more time. Or less time.
More time in the places that peaked their interest. More time to linger, indulge a passion for photography, take a cooking class, visit more sites or simply more time to get to know a place better, more in-depth.
Sometimes the group activities wouldn’t have been their first choice.
Some wanted to move faster, others slower.
And that’s how travel should be. Unique and individual.
Most of us have limited time and money. We shouldn’t have to waste it on things that we don’t want.
But it means to have precisely what we want; we may have to overcome some of our fears and anxieties.
Maybe it means organising your own travel, finding a travelling companion you click with, or even going solo.
There are many options; maybe fear is stopping us from seeing them.
I have discovered, finally, after organising travel for myself, my clients, and coordinating local wine and food tours, art tours and even ghost tours and overseas groups, that I am good at planning.
Actually, I am very good at planning, and better yet I love it! And that is what I am going to concentrate on.
But more on that a little later.
Travel gives you freedom to be yourself
I remember flying from Rome to Athens on that trip to European trip and sitting on the plane, ready for take-off.
Having just left behind the family after being together 24/7 for two months I was feeling guilty at how relieved I felt (and terrified at the same time).
Somewhere seated near me was a small child calling “Mum, mum, mum…”. I automatically looked around alert and attentive ready to do something.
Then I caught myself. It wasn’t my child. I wasn’t responsible for anyone. There was no one I had to organise, sort out, take care of and no one to answer to or justify myself to.
It took a while before I felt the tension ease and realised that it was just me. What a novelty to feel so free.
The world we live in is busy, hectic and at times crazy. A lot of us don’t stop and if we do we feel guilty for taking time for ourselves. We become slaves to our families and our jobs guilty if we are not giving them everything.
But we are wrong. Time for ourselves is crucial. How do we know who we are as individuals without it? Can we recharge and give our best if we don’t stop and take time for ourselves? How do we teach others to treat us with respect if we don’t respect ourselves?
Travel is more than just travelling
Travel is a way that we can have that time and space. A time we can step out of our “normal” lives and find out who we are without all the routine.
It is not only about experiencing new and exciting destinations but provides us with the opportunity to connect with other people, space to grow and most importantly, learn about ourselves. To find out who we are as individuals.
I believe in creating travel itineraries that allow individual pursuits and passions. Travel that acknowledges fears and anxieties and overcomes them anyway through planning and preparedness.
I believe in teaching people skills that allow them to plan, create and travel the way they want and need to.
The future for me and Travel Planning
So I am going back to Travel Planning and providing clients with customised itineraries filled to the brim with everything they need to have their trip of a lifetime.
I am going to teach Travel Planning for those that want to do it themselves, and I am going to share how I overcame fear and anxiety so that I could finally indulge my travel dreams and travel the way I wanted to.
Travel has given me so much. Changed me completely and helped me overcome a lot of my anxiety. It has made me stronger. And THAT is what I want for my clients.
The Gift of Travel.