July 24, 2020
Story submitted by traveller Alyssa!
To that point I (like much of the world) had been trying to make sense of COVID-19, its severity, and the impact it would have. Coming to terms with the situation that was unfolding, I packed my bags, I booked my flight to Canada, and I cried.
I cried thinking of those whose lives had already been affected by the pandemic in some way, and for those who would be affected. Admittedly, I also cried because my own life had been turned upside down and my long-time dream to live abroad had been cut much shorter than anticipated.
If you’ve found yourself reading this, I’m sure you share my love of travel. For many of us, travel is not a hobby, but a passion that’s woven into our identity. Our adventures impact us, teach us, motivate us.
Since my return to Canada, I’ve been reflecting on my longing to travel again. This eagerness to pack my bags, touch down in an unfamiliar place, and begin exploring. In thinking about this, I realized that in many ways, Canada is an unfamiliar place to me, and it’s waiting to be explored. They say the grass is always greener on the other side, and I’m guilty of that mentality. I’m quick to book flights abroad, yet rarely make time to explore my own home. Global travel will return. Slowly, perhaps, but it will return. Until then, I think we have a unique opportunity to use this time to explore our own country, our own provinces.
Coming to terms with this sparked excitement. It reminded me of an experience I had about 5 years ago when I took a job as a student vacation planner in my home province of Prince Edward Island. As part of our training, we were required to attend a two-week familiarization tour in which we were bussed around the Island, stopping at locations, businesses, and attractions that tourists may be interested in. I had lived on PEI for most of my life at that point, so I assumed that I was knowledgeable about the Island and what it has to offer. I was wrong.
Throughout the tour, I experienced firsthand the sincere surprise and sense of pride that can arise when you travel in your own backyard. I was fascinated learning the facts and stories behind basic Island staples – things that I had taken for granted without ever thinking much about. For example, I knew that PEI had beautiful beaches but had never stopped to think about the divide between our red sand shorelines and our white sand shorelines. I knew the Island had a few remaining lighthouses but learned it’s actually home to 63 – seven of which are national historic sites that you can visit and learn about. I had crossed the Confederation bridge many times over the years but never realized that it’s the longest bridge in the world crossing ice-covered water. My perspective changed completely.
Over the two-week period, my eyes were wide, my jaw often dropped, and my heart full. We stopped at red cliff lookout points where the ocean seems to stretch on forever. We learned about the history of our agriculture industry and tried potato-fudge for the first time. We stayed at a bed and breakfast that I’m still convinced makes the best French toast in the world. We drove to the tip of the Island to see the longest natural rock reef in North America and watched the tides meet between the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait. We spoke to a local woman at the shipbuilding museum who shared stories of ghost ships from long past. All these things that I would look to experience in places around the world… and I experienced them in my own province.
So I’ll travel abroad again, but while planes are grounded and our passports are tucked away, I plan to travel right here at home.
This post was submitted by a traveller as part of our Trade Your Time for Travel program. Click here to learn how you can earn travel credits towards a future trip with us, just by sharing a memorable travel experience. #tradeyourtimefortravel
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