Dear Travel, I love you.

A year ago, I endured the worst week of my life. My wife and I had to say hello and goodbye to our daughter on her very first day and it broke me. This week, I’m beyond humbled, proud and elated to welcome our baby girl, Olive, to the household (account). And yes, as every parent says “she’s really perfect”.

Oh how much one year can change someones life. When you travel, even more so…

I write to you today with a message of hope and gratitude. Life went from broken, shattered and in search of finding happiness, to one where we simply could not ask for more, all in under one year. If not for the power of travel, I don’t honestly believe that would’ve been possible or even remotely realistic.

Therapy is good, meditation is good, exercise and all the other staples are good, but getting away can be priceless.

In case you couldn’t tell from my chasing trolls away with virtual broomsticks, I’m incredibly passionate about what I do. I just want to share as many travel opportunities as possible, and make them accessible to people who would never believe they have the budget or skills to go somewhere dreamy. When I think of my last year, I’m honestly my own living example of why I care so much.

Grief, pain, sadness, tragedy and depression are things you must face head on, but once you do, sometimes getting away is well deserved and actually quite cathartic and important to really believing in what you’re coming through. We dealt with all the above as best we could, but leaving it all behind felt like the best thing we could do.

I wrote my how to use Google Flights like a wizard article because I want people to find their own mind bending – or just affordable – flight deals.

Our “happy place” has been Australia for a while, and it’s also far away from everything we know. I put in some work for a few days, and finally found a fare I couldn’t say no too. it was more than I planned on paying, but thanks to some points laying around and flexibility on where we’d leave from (a nearby city), I was able to take the sting off and book it.

It was the best money I’ve ever spent.

Australia was step 755 in helping each other to find joy, let loose and get back to the basic pleasures of life, but it was the big one. Before going further, I want to quickly say, I do realise how lucky I am to have had a partner in all this, and I can only offer support and understanding to someone facing hard difficulties on their own. My email is easy to find, and my twitter messages are always open.

Band on the run…

I’m a huge Tom Petty fan, and I recalled earn on, how when his house burned down, he took his family on the road, and in retrospect, 2019 kinda felt like that for me. We went everywhere we could, even if just for a weekend and tried to take friends and family with us whenever possible. It felt like the band getting back together again.

This sounds like immense privilege – all travel is – but it’s why I’m here.

I can’t get enough of that search for discovery, finding the new best breakfast, the prettiest sunset, the cultural saying that makes you chuckle in a different language and everything in between. Even just buying something from a small shop 1,000’s of miles away from where you live feels special, as does bringing it back home to someone whose mind is blown.

I think everyone should have that amazing “oh my goodness, it’s even more magical than I imagined” reveal that only travel can give. I am so grateful to travel for shoving them right in front of my eyes, nose, ears and throat this year.

It’s because of how these travel opportunities I cover helped me heal over the year that I gained extra appreciation for how valuable they might be to others, whether they are going through something or not.

Ultimately, travel didn’t feel like getting away, it felt like being comfortable enough outside of my day to day existence to discover old joys, new joys and expand everything from my palate to my sunburn. Try watching kids play cricket in India and try not to smile.

In many parts of the world, you also cannot help but open your eyes to see how grateful we all should be about things we take for granted.

There are all sorts of cliches about finding yourself in the world, and we probably don’t need another, but sometimes it’s just quite cool to reinvent yourself without anyone you know watching or caring. Sometimes, travel is like shedding a skin and putting on your new best self, or the one you need to be.

While the eye roll worthy cliches pile up rapidly,  is there anything more simplistic and wonderful than searching out (and actually finding) the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen? Thank you for that, Santorini.

The message is this: we’re all going through things and we can never know what is affecting strangers around us. Be kind, help others reach their star power and be open minded. When you struggle, face your struggles, ask others for help, and when you make it to a point where you’re ready to walk again, find a way to reset yourself with a trip.

I feel incredibly fortunate this week and I have the immense power of travel to thank for so much of it. Since you are still here, I want to learn about something that means something to you too. I’m going to donate $1000 to a cause someone leaves in the comments, which they believe does essential work and good either for themselves or others.

It doesn’t have to be travel, or mental health related, but just something that does good in the world. For example, one that’s dear to my heart is Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital who helped us in very hard times last year. Whether you think yours will be selected or not, leave a link so others can learn about the great work they’re doing.

Leave links and why you care, and I’ll pick one next weekend and thank you with the donation.

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