Travelling brings me so much happiness – the excitement pre-trip, the new experiences, friendships, food… what’s not to love? I don’t think I’ll ever tire of wanting to see new places and learn more about our cultures and history, but this passion to travel really took hold one life-changing summer in my early 20s.
Some of you who’ve been following our adventures for some time may already know this story, but for those who don’t here’s a short recap – my life got turned upside down when at the age of 22 I suffered extensive blood clots that ravaged the lower half of my body. For those who’re interesting in learning more about what happened, and how I’ve recovered, then you may want to read my post about travelling with an invisible illness, but today I want to talk about one of the positive things that came from this whole experience – my passion for travel.
This incident happened mere weeks before I was supposed to be heading off on a big family holiday to Malta – our first in a good few years. Sadly in the early days I wasn’t able to bear weight on my legs at all, so I waved my family off and told myself I’d plan a trip of my own when better.
It’s not safe to fly
As the weeks progressed I focused on pushing myself to stand, step, walk etc all while trying to understand why the clot happened and what it meant. Of course, 15+ years ago they didn’t know all the answers and so with the knowledge they had at the time, my doctors’ advice was not…to…fly.
I was crushed. At 22 I’d only just started to explore. My longest flight had been eight hours to Disneyland and I’d only started dreaming of visiting exotic locations like Japan, or Costa Rica.
But, I was, and still am, a stubborn cow. Telling me I couldn’t fly was like a red rag to a bull. If someone tells me I can’t do something then I’ll find a way – being told I wouldn’t be able to travel the world made me want to more than ever! So I started looking for solutions – maybe my future trips would have to be cruises, or perhaps I could go on long train adventures? These all sounded fun, but being able to fly would give me so many more opportunities to travel.
Finding a way
So began bugging the doctors with a million questions and tried to find out everything I could about blood clots and the risks of flying. This gave me a focus, and one I think really helped me push myself. I decided that if I could get myself as well as possible then perhaps I’d be able to fly.
18 months after my clot I felt ready to take the leap and I booked my first flight, a weekend in Barcelona with my bestie. It was a small but scary step – this first trip was around two hours, and I’d researched my ass off on how to keep healthy and lower my risk of clotting on a flight (and I’ve shared everything I’ve learnt about this in my post Air travel tips from a blood clot survivor).
That first flight
I’ll be honest, I was petrified throughout that flight – worrying about every twitch in my legs, but aside from some extra discomfort, some nasty bruising and swelling I was fine and had an amazing trip.
Over time, as my health continued to improve I pushed my boundaries further and further, doing a five hour flight, then later an eight hour flight. With each trip I got a better understanding of what my new ‘normal’ was and accepted that although flying was more uncomfortable and often painful for me, as long as I took care, it wouldn’t cause me any true damage.
My clot gave me this passion for travel, and I’m grateful
I’d always wanted to travel, but being told I couldn’t really lit a fire in my belly. I may have to be extra careful when I travel by breaking flights up and not sleeping on overnight flights (boo!) but I’ve made sure my condition hasn’t stopped me from seeing the world and all it’s wonders.
Although I wouldn’t wish my condition on anyone in a way I’m grateful for it, as it made me even more determined to see more of our beautiful planet. I truly appreciate every experience I have and I never take the wonder of travel for granted. We’re all so lucky to live in this amazing world, and even luckier that we have the opportunity to explore it.
What ignited your passion for travel? I’d love to hear about it – so please share your stories in the comments below!