By Tiffany Hill
I grew up in a subsidized housing area with most of the neighbourhood receiving government assistance, not unlike my own family.
Money was a necessity, not a commodity, so activities that had costs attached to them had to be planned out.
My mom never had the financial luxury of just whisking my sisters and I away on an exotic vacation, or any vacation for that matter.
But even with limited resources, she always did her her best to try and expose us to new
environments and experiences. I was a curious child and she did her best to feed and fuel my relentlessness.
She would often stay behind while allowing family friends to take me away during my school breaks, just so I could realize the answer to my inquisitiveness.
Those were great moments in my childhood.
Then one summer, the summer of 1996, of which I still refer to as 'the experience of my life' arrived.
I was 16 years-old, and my grandmother asked if I would come to Alaska to visit her alone during my break.
It wouldn’t have been my first time away from home, but it would have been my first time away from home for my entire summer with none of my friends and family around.
The first summer I wouldn’t spend hanging out at the pool, or earning money babysitting.
I was going to be in the mountains, on a different coast, in a different time zone, doing things I had never done.
I have to admit that my first week or so, I experienced a sort of homesickness that was hard to shake.
More so, the longing for what I thought I was missing out on back home. But that pang was short lived.
After weeks of visiting Athabaskan villages, road tripping cross country, hiking in the
mountains, and glacier cruising, I couldn’t believe what I potentially could have missed out on.
The summer in Alaska of 1996 was a summer of many revelations, cultural shocks, and
assimilations. But it was also a summer of awakening.
I received so many gifts from that experience, but one thing it absolutely did for me, aside from grow my relationship with my grandmother, was solidify my thirst for exploration.
Growing up ‘urban,’ it was my first time experiencing a disconnect and detachment from what I knew to be the 'norm'.
When I returned home, I was changed. I knew from that point forward, travel was a must.
I went out of the country for my first time and alone, two years later. Now at 20+ countries, I continue to count my adventures and collect experiences that will forever change me… that have forever changed me, for the better.
I have been given a lens that rotates on its axes that few are privileged to view,
and this has widened the optic from which I navigate the world.
Technology has come a long way, as I reminisce about the notepads I have filled up of my thoughts and observations while on a traveling stint; or think back to all of the traveling adventures where I barely had a functional camera; no high-tech, 4k resolution video cams to capture the beauty and excitement of some of my earlier travels; no iPhone 6 Plus; no transmitting live to my friends on a social network.
But those panoramas are still alive, vibrant, in HD colour, in the forefront of my mind.
That is why I decided to start a blog.
I wanted to be able to share some of the beauty and hiccups that come along with travel.
I also wanted to whet the appetite of aspiring or timid travellers, share tips and share smiles.
Traveling not only makes me more human, it makes me a better human. And aren’t we all grateful for that?
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