I’m going to start this post off by saying I’m sorry for the long rambling post. Since it is the first one, I figure I will catch you all up on how I came to finally realize my dream of travelling abroad.
So let me say, this isn’t the story of my first international trip. I have been to both Canada and Mexico (though Mexico I don’t really remember because I was four years old and Canada unfortunately was only very briefly, though I do want to go back and see Toronto again, it was great!) However, this was the first intercontinental trip I have ever taken and it was super important because it really sparked my interest in travel.
I’ve always wanted to travel ever since I can remember. I always loved road trips with the family and loved getting to visit new places and see new things. I started taking French classes in high school and college and my interest in travel grew as I learned about French places and culture. Though my desire to travel was still only a distant dream.
As a graduation gift, instead of money, my aunt offered me a trip to anywhere in the world I wanted to go. We talked of Europe and Australia mostly at the time. I was so excited to have the opportunity! However things didn’t pan out due to some choices on my own part. I know, I know. How could I pass up a free trip? Well to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about how quickly the summer after I graduated would fly by and how, with my new employment, travel became an impossibility. (I’ll talk more about this a bit later)
When I was in college I began working at an amusement park over the summer to make money (Cedar Point for those of you who know it.) During the summer, Cedar Point employed many students and young adults from countries all over the world. It was a great experience! I had only met one or two people from other countries growing up and it always interested me to talk to them about what their home was like and how it was different from where I lived. That being said, working somewhere that employed literally hundreds of people from a large handful of countries was a wonderful opportunity. I spent so much time talking to my new friends, trying to learn pieces of their languages, and talking about their cultures. Many of them offered me lodging if I were ever in their neck of the woods (you better believe I will be taking you up on that offer friends!) The idea of travelling to other countries came into sharper focus and I started to mull it over a lot more. The only problem was that I was working six days a week and the ability to take time off, especially since this was a seasonal job was tough.
After I graduated college, I worked one more season at Cedar Point to save up some money. Once the summer was over, I gathered up all of my belongings and moved myself to New York City. It was a crazy, humbling, and amazing experience. I had gone from a small town in Ohio, to working in Times Square, one of the biggest and most technologically flashy places in the US. Here I encountered even more people from all over the world. I saw the joy and excitement of being in a new country on their faces and thought about how much I wished it was me getting to see new places.
My second summer in the city, I got a random message from my aunt. She was going to be in Spain for a writing conference and had an extra week and a half after before she was due to fly home. She asked me if I wanted to meet her somewhere in Europe and we could finally take the trip we had talked about. There was absolutely no hesitation on my end. I enthusiastically said yes and we began talking about our plan.
Choosing your first international (well, for me my first intercontinental) trip is such a daunting task. There is so much to see in this world outside of our little bubbles and the choices made my head spin. We talked of France, the UK, Italy, etc but we were having a hard time deciding. The idea of a Mediterranean cruise was tossed around a bit. It wasn’t until I managed to stumble upon a well preserved ancestral record (a bit of an obsession of mine) that I decided where I wanted to go. We had always known that my family had definite Irish roots, our last name in and of itself is extremely Irish. What we DIDN’T know was that we were actually related to Medieval and Renaissance nobility, albeit very distantly. Through hours and hours of heavy research and sleepless nights, I discovered that not only are we related to Charlemagne (as almost anyone with European roots will also attest to) but I was able to trace the family line through Scotland, including being a very distant cousin of Robert the Bruce (and hence the Kings and Queens of England after the Tudor Dynasty ended) and back through England to William the Conqueror.
Now I know, the distance is very great and many, many people are also able to claim to be related to nobility. And honestly, who knows how accurate the records I found for my family actually are. But I chose to believe them because I think it’s fascinating. However, what I did find, much, much closer in relation (a direct descent actually) was Clan Maxwell of Scotland. I discovered that a distant branch of our family had owned land and castles in Scotland.
And so the trip was decided.
After much deliberation, my aunt and I came to the agreement to fly in to London, take a train to Scotland and rent a car to see the Highlands, then fly to Ireland to rent a car as well.
Let the wanderlust begin.