By AdventureWomen owner, Nicole Wineland-Thomson
I remember dreaming of the Caribbean. Of sitting on a white sandy beach, toes in the water, sun bathing with friends under a yellow-and-blue-striped umbrella and doing absolutely nothing. But did these dreams ever materialize? No way.
To say that travel is a part of my life would be an understatement. It’s in my blood, and always has been for as long as I can remember. Before I knew how to tie my shoes I had already been to Nepal, Tanzania, and New Zealand with my parents. As I grew, so did the world around me. Each year we would set off to new destinations where we would explore remote regions, meet amazing people, and come home with extraordinary memories. But I didn’t always see it as “extraordinary.”
It was an unusual childhood, to say the least. As a family, we would take every school vacation as an opportunity to travel to some far-off place, which at times was very difficult for me. As I grew into my teens, being away from friends was challenging. I can remember in those moments feeling disconnected, lost, lonely, and certainly grumpy because I wasn’t in the Caribbean. I felt hijacked. Yet, as I look back, I realize how much those moments shaped me into the woman I am today. Disconnecting from the world around me, especially in an unusual and unfamiliar place pushed me to be vulnerable, to stop and take a moment to absorb what was around me, and more importantly, to connect to the experience.
These connections have lived with me throughout my life. Meeting the 88-year-old Vietnamese woman who watered her farm every day by hand, playing a dusty game of soccer with the Maasai children in Tanzania, pulling up fresh shellfish from the ocean floor with local Icelandic fishermen, or making mate with an Argentinian farmer at his hacienda in Patagonia. These are just some of the many experiences that pull at me and beckon me to continue exploring this amazing world. They keep me grounded, not only throughout the journey, but also back at home here in Boston.
As I think back to my childhood I can’t help but feel incredibly fortunate to have explored the remote regions of the world at such a young age. The experiences I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned are now woven into my daily life and push me to be more forgiving, honest, humble, strong, and open-minded. I admire how my parents raised my sister and me, and I strive to do the same with my young son. I’m sure one day he will claim I’ve hijacked him into travel! But thanks to my upbringing, I am quite independent; always itching to travel on that next remarkable journey off the beaten path, completely disconnected. If anything, I feel safe to admit that I certainly don’t dream about the Caribbean anymore.