Connecting with people and cultures is at the core of Creative Travel Connections’ mission. My friend, Megan, shares similar values. She recently moved from the U.S. to Australia, for one year, with her family. Her husband, Alan, is an Aussie and they wanted to immerse their four children in his culture for an extended period of time. And to help connect with a traveling tribe around the world she started the blog, A Traveling Tribe.
Earlier this month I had an opportunity to interview Megan about her tribe and travels…
What do you love most about travel?
What’s not to love?! The newness of cultures, languages, foods, etc. Travel brings books to life, dreams into reality, and my life into true perspective.
When did you realize that you love to travel?
I believe there were several moments that created the foundation for my wanderlust. As a child, I used to watch the sunset and wonder where it went. I wanted to find out someday and dreamt of places I might see. I also remember my parents going on a cruise to Alaska when I was 5 years old and being devastated that they left me behind. My parents also hosted international musicians through Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp every summer while they were touring Michigan. As a young girl, I sat and listened to the musicians share their stories (and music) from all over the world. Again, my dreams were filled with faraway places to explore someday.
But the most influential catalyst for forming a deep love of travel within came from a movie…of all things! When I was about 8 years old, PBS aired The Man From Snowy River (1982) – inspired by the poem written by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, one of Australia’s most famous poets. This was a story of a loss, triumph, determination, and of wild Australian horses and landscape – oh and there is a love story woven throughout as well! This became my favorite movie (and it still ranks in my top 10 today). Australia seemed like a distant land, one I would only dream of visiting, but this was enough to get me motivated to explore the world.
What is the most interesting place that you’ve experienced and why?
Without a doubt, Morocco. Alan and I had an opportunity to travel to Morocco in 2005. While in Al Hoceima, in the Rif Mountains, we met some of the most hard-working, generous, kind, and intentional people we have ever met. It is a stunning country with such a rich history. There are some major differences between Moroccan life and life for us in the States, which made it even more intriguing and attractive. We hope to go back someday with the kids!
Have you ever had a travel faux pas?
One time, a friend dropped Alan and I off at the airport. We grabbed our bags out of the car and proceeded to head inside. All of a sudden, we realized Alan’s backpack was still in the car. It had our passports and tickets. We frantically dropped our bags in the airport and BOTH began running out of the doors toward our friend’s car as he drove away. Needless to say, several armed and uniformed men came running after us and surrounded our dropped bags. After a solid lecture of how wrong our actions were and our unending apologetic explanations, we were free to get moving with our adventure. #whatwerewethinking #wewerenot
Why is it important to introduce your kids to other cultures and places?
Growing up and raising kids in the U.S. has its advantages, don’t get me wrong. But I have always felt that we are misguided in a sense of what the world is really like at the core. We have storybooks, pictures online, history textbooks, National Geographic photography…but sometimes these resources fail to reveal the truth of a culture, a place, or an idea. I want my kids to be truth seekers, so this is where travel comes in!
It wasn’t until I started to travel outside of my small northern Michigan hometown that I realized just how misguided we can be at times. This concerns me as a mom and teacher and believer. I believe this is where misunderstanding and misguided thinking begins, which manifest into bullying, racism, prejudice, oppression, and the list goes on. From a young age I have been taught to celebrate and lean into the dissonance that life presents, and so I am teaching my kids how to lean in as well. And to celebrate commonalities, but also differences.
We can learn so much from those we meet since everyone has a story. I have learned that heartbreak, deep joy, and God’s unfailing love have no borders. My hope is that my kids will learn this too. I have also learned that laughter is contagious in every language – seriously contagious! I cannot wait for my kids to experience this over and over and over.
There is incredible beauty in the mundane of life, but also in the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring majestic locations around the world that most of us only dream of seeing in person. For my kids to appreciate the mundane but also the majestic is the goal.
Who inspires you?
This is a hard question as I believe there are many people who inspire me. First and foremost, Alan. To have a partner who shares similar passions and dreams is more than I could have hoped for. He is my mate, my companion, my encouragement, and also my common sense. We make a pretty good team!
My parents also inspire me. They have clocked quite a few hours in the air and have been to several continents between the two of them, which is probably why I have such a passion for traveling. They are lovers of learning and enjoy the challenge of going somewhere new. The best part is their encouragement and understanding of my desires to keep exploring our great world.
What do you hope to gain/learn as you travel with your tribe?
I hope to learn… How to be a better caretaker of our earth. What it means to be empathetic. Where to find the best tacos. Where my family’s roots began. How to speak more than English. How to listen and actually hear. That I am important, yet not so important I lose sight of others. Where to find the most beautiful beaches. How to cook authentic dishes from different cultures.
I hope to gain… A deeper understanding of the human race. And more connections so that traveling around the world feels like driving around our neighborhood.
And one last question: If your budget was unlimited and time or any other obstacles weren’t a factor, where is your dream destination and who would you take with you?
With ONLY Alan, it would be the Maldives. Every photograph on the internet, every travel bloggers’ account of their visit, every article I have ever read makes me long for at least two weeks of pure relaxation and indulgence in those crystal waters. I am a beach girl at the core, so the Maldives are kind of my place. Alan loves water sports – scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, and the idea of kitesurfing – so I don’t think he would be too disappointed!
With the kids in tow, a three-month journey through Europe to find the secrets to our ancestral beginnings. We would mostly stay in Germany, Great Britain, Poland, and the likes, but I am positive we would discover some surprises along the way that may lead to other countries as well.
Megan describes herself as a dreamer and hopeless romantic. She jumps into life with everything she has. As a new travel blogger, she hopes to extend her tribe to all the corners of the world. She is an inspirational woman and I’m proud to be part of her tribe.
We would love to connect with you too! What do you love about travel? Do you have a travel tribe?
by Julie Slagter