If there’s one thing I love to no end, it’s travel. I love it more with every passing year and trust it to be one of the few things in this world that you can buy with money and actually grow yourself (no shoes or bags can compete). I feel lucky to have traveled so much, particularly over the last ten years, and I realise its value. I understand that things can change and I may not always have the privilege to travel, so I really cherish it.
I was thinking a couple of days ago about some of the trips I’ve taken that have really done a lot for my mind and soul more than others and I realized these three trips stand out as the most memorable ones. Share yours when you’re done with my undeniable wisdom.
My very first international trip was when I was 21. I had just started working a few months prior and had to travel for a meeting to Switzerland. Imagine someone who hasn’t traveled out of the country ever and is doing it solo for the first time AND is majorly shy: you’ve got yourself a situation that can only be described as a nervous breakdown having a one-night stand with a motherload of excitement. I was thrilled but a bunch of things made me super nervous. The international terminals at the airport scared me, landing in an unknown country, checking into a hotel, navigating a foreign city for things like oh-my-god, LUNCH. And, I was traveling business class for the first time and guess who didn’t know how to work the business class seats (and everything else that came with that).
I was away for about 4 days, I think, in which I probably spent about 3 in a conference room and at official dinners. And the time I had off I stayed holed up in my hotel room because I was too conscious to go out by myself (LOL). I did brave up a bit somewhere in between and walked to a nearby fuel station (double LOL), bought a magazine and thought I was so ridiculously cool. Geneva is a really, really slow city and yet I felt like I was in the most happening place in the world, because I had never seen foreign land before.
I didn’t see much of the place on that trip (I ended up going back multiple times in the next few years by which time I had become a normal person) but it will always stand out as one of the best ones because it was a breakthrough in so many ways for me. Chaos, fear, nerves, excitement, thrill, independence, everything. I dined out at a salad bar at a grocery store on one day (because it was close, and recall, I was super-shy) but I remember it more than most ‘regular’ dinners at fancy restaurants, because, that day it was the most ‘courageous’ thing I did. I also realized that no matter what your age or experience, if you’re doing something for the first time, there’s no shame in asking questions about it or be embarrassed about not knowing it (that’s how we do anything the first time anyway).
Family Road Trip in 2010: Lahore to Islamabad
Somehow my family hasn’t done much travel together on ‘vacations’. Sure we’ve gone to visit relatives in other cities but we’ve never really gone anywhere just to spend time with each other. As a kid, I never realized this and when I moved out, all vacation time was generally geared towards coming back home and spending as much time in the house with the family. Somehow, in 2010 we were all going to be in Lahore on our respective vacations and I floated the idea about taking a short road trip to Islamabad from Lahore and everyone came on board.
I took my car from Karachi, met my family in Lahore, all of us piled in and we took a 4 hour road trip to Islamabad. We didn’t have our eldest sister and her family with us (they were busy) so we missed them. But it was SUCH fun after ages: we reminisced about our dad (who used to take us on his motorway work trips), ate at rest stops, cracked immature jokes about each other, did lame stuff around the city. It was the best. Whenever I go back home to Lahore, I really just stay at home because I want to maximize my time with the family and it always feels like nothing could be better. But this trip made me realise that at times you have to try extra hard and take everyone out of their comfort zones and do something different with the family. It could be a couple of days but a complete timeout with your loved ones with no distractions/chores/jobs and no everyday life getting in the way is the perfect thing to do.
*That’s my first car ever. From work through, I couldn’t have afforded one on my own, lulz.
Honeymoon in 2011: Maldives
Honeymoons must undoubtedly be one of everyone’s favorite trips. Mine was in Maldives and will probably never get out of my Top 5. The location was stunning and SO freaking relaxing and SUCH a match for our lazy personalities, I doubt there could have been anything better for the both of us. We pretty much lay around the pool, ate and talked, ate and talked, and then ate and talked some more. Plus, it was so great to just connect with no planned action, for a solid one week after the general madness of the wedding.
Other than the fact that the place was supremely gorgeous, we loved our choice because we had both decided a long time ago to direct most of our money to the honeymoon instead of the wedding. I didn’t do a big event, didn’t get the expensive wedding clothes, my jewelery was not real, and there was absolutely no frill on anything. I just wanted to spend on ourselves and it turned out to be every bit worth it. We got an expensive villa that we would’ve never been able to afford if we’d spent luxuriously on the wedding and it was perfect (for us – different things work for different people). Whenever we come back from any trip and discuss how much fun we had, we always, always go back to our honeymoon because it was the best beginning for our (inshallah) life partnership.
*We stayed at Zitahli Resorts & Spa in Maldives.
That is it.
Until next time.