How I discovered my wanderlust

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I didn’t always have this wanderlust inside me. It feels shocking to be putting such words out into the universe, but it’s true.

I know it’s true because when I was 11 or 12 years old, I turned down the opportunity to go to the United States. Every year my school in New Zealand took part in a student exchange with another school in Washington. One year we’d host the American students for a couple of weeks, and the next year our students would be hosted in the States.

My step-dad asked me multiple times if I wanted to go, and I said no. I said no! Even though one of my best friends was going. Even though it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I think part of me was scared of going overseas. The other part of me was definitely not interested in the work it would take to fundraise for the trip. Let’s be real.

It wasn’t until my friend got back from this trip, and I heard all about the amazing time they had—this was pre-Internet, you understand—that I started to feel jealous. I kicked myself for not going, too.

How I discovered my wanderlust


If I could talk to 12-year old me, I would definitely tell her to get off her butt, face her fears, and go to America! I’m sure she would have loved to meet her Washington pen-pal. I know she would have loved the American candy. And she definitely would have had a ball at Disneyland. Just saying.

Unfortunately my wanderlust didn’t really hit me until my mid-20s.

I didn’t jet off for my OE or gap year after high school. I didn’t travel after completing my further studies. Aside from two trips to Australia, I never really made it overseas until I was 26.

I spent the first half of my twenties moving cities and building somewhat of a career for myself. Money was tight, and travel didn’t really feel like an option.

Then finally, finally, my partner and I just said ‘stuff it!’ and we found a way to make it work. It was only supposed to be a small trip to Whistler, but we found “round-the-world” tickets for less than the cost of a return flight to Canada. It was a no-brainer.

The tickets included stop-overs in Asia and Europe, so we decided to visit a relative in Japan for a couple of days first. Then we spent a week exploring Germany, Austria and Italy, before making our way to Canada.

22 days, 5 countries, and two very happy wanderlusters in the making. We well and truly caught the travel bug after that whirlwind adventure.

And the rest, as they say, is history.


I want to know…

How did you discover your travel bug?
What was your first overseas adventure, and how did you make it happen?

(Let us know in the comments)

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How I Discovered my Wanderlust




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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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