During my lifetime I have been incredibly fortunate to have travelled with my family to different countries and places in this beautiful world. Doing so, I have discovered a love and passion for travelling, experiencing new cultures, new opinions, history, ideas, food and scenery. For me, travelling is about learning about somebody and someplace else. It’s about broadening my mind and being more open to experiences & ideas. Travelling is simply the feeling that you are actively learning about others and appreciating the great world we live in.
The first time I ever was on a plane was to travel to British Columbia to attend My uncle’s wedding in Vancouver. At this time, I was 5 years old and was so excited to go. I can remember drawing doodles of planes and skies in my room for weeks before the trip. As a little kid, leaving the farm and travelling to a big city on a real plane was just about as awesome as life could get. I can remember sitting on the window seat of the plane and not being able to take my eyes off the clouds for the entire five-hour flight. When we finally arrived in Vancouver, I was beyond excited to get a cab and drive off into a real city. There were buildings that touched the sky, hundreds of different restaurants and stores and countless parks filled with kids and dogs on every block. Coming from a small village with one park, one store and one restaurant, Vancouver was an overwhelming paradise to me.
During that trip, I visited the ocean for the first time. It was too cold and rainy to swim but my family still had a great time collecting sea shells and rocks. We also visited the Vancouver Aquarium. I think it was there that I realized I had a love of the sea and all of the creatures within it. That day I got to see beluga whales, stingrays, starfish and dolphins. That trip started our family’s love of travel and led to the planning of our first tropical vacation to beautiful Dominican Republic.
Dominican was everything my family had hoped it would be; great food, beautiful scenery and nice, genuine people. It is an excellent place for a family holiday! Things couldn’t have gone better for our first time as a family travelling to another country. We headed off on this journey with our great friends Jerome and Mary and we have been travelling with them ever since. There was a certain energy and atmosphere at our wonderful resort that instantly made you feel relaxed and welcomed. After a lot of unpacking, changing into swimsuits and applying sunscreen we finally headed to the beach. I remember when my toes first stepped into the hot white sand. I remember seeing the swaying coconut trees and crystal-clear water. I was so excited to step onto a tropical beach, and I couldn’t wait to dive into the ocean for the first time. As the week continued, things only got better and better. During that week I learned many things about the Dominican people, their
language and their culture. I even stepped outside of my own comfort zone trying new foods, meeting many different people and opened myself up to different challenges and experiences. I think that travelling over the years has really helped me find myself and discover things about myself. Some new things I took on that week include snorkeling in a coral reef, tubing out in the deep ocean and swimming with real, live, sharks. Yes you heard me, sharks. Although they were just nurse sharks and don’t have a great deal of teeth, for an 8-year-old girl, I thought I was pretty tough.
The next year my family travelled to Cuba, followed the next year by Barbados. Cuba was a fun and cultural trip. We enjoyed lots of Cuban meals and it happened to be Cuba Days when we went so they were celebrating their country in bright parades and shows and they shared this extravagant holiday with us. Barbados was a trip I will never forget! Never have I seen such a beautiful place filled with such a wide variety of people, scenery, plants and animals. Barbados is full of people who are larger than life. They fill your mind with their colourful speech, their walk, their endless energy and love of life. No matter what their age, they insist on having fun. Barbados is filled with endless beaches, luxury resorts and fun nightspots. The coconut palms, the bearded fig trees, the sugar cane fields and the tropical flowers all add to the charm. The first animal I saw in Barbados was a colourful sea turtle. Barbados is a haven for many turtles, including the Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles. Sea turtles are very commonly seen there almost like how a deer is common for people to see where I come from, but for me this was beyond exciting. That week we got to go snorkeling and swimming with the sea turtles, and I instantly fell in love. Some other animals I got to see in Barbados included the mongoose, bats, a red-footed tortoise, various species of lizards, whistling frogs and toads. The ocean in
Barbados was the highlight of the trip. The HUGE waves caused for an exciting and rowdy swim. At this point in my life that trip was the most magnificent 7 days I’d ever had. After all, how could body surfing wave after wave for hours on end in crystal clear water ever get boring?
The next year the Barr family took on Disney, Florida, the sunshine state of America. This trip was extremely eventful with one exciting event planned after another. In Florida I went on my very first roller coaster ride at SeaWorld. We went to the Magic Kingdom where we met Mickey and Minney and all of the other Disney characters and we also watched the amazing fire work show and a glow in the dark parade. It was truly a magical experience. Our favourite part about the trip was most definitely the water park! A full day of good fun in the sun, riding slides and floating in the lazy river. I swear, we must have floated around in that thing for 4 hours straight. We had so much fun in Florida but we felt we didn’t have enough time to fully experience it all so we returned again 2 years after and took on Old town, Universal and Gatorland.
You might ask what’s next on this family’s travel bucket list? Well, to us we couldn’t possibly miss out on a trip to Jamaica, two trips actually. We loved it there so much that we returned another year to experience it all over again. Every Island in the Caribbean has something unique and special about it but to me the music is what separates Jamaica from the others. Despite the tiny size of the island, Jamaican music has long been a powerful force on a global scale. First of all, we have Bob Marley and his Reggae legacy. He advocated for social change while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and just dance. I think this has a huge impact on Jamaica‘s friendly atmosphere and passion for music. The island boasts a wealth of extraordinarily popular genres such as dancehall and dub and has a long history of folk music.
On these trips to Jamaica I experienced new things that I have always wanted to try. I went parasailing, cliff diving, I swam with dolphins and my sister and I even rode a camel. I must say, swimming with dolphins was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Being so close with such a gentle and happy animal can make anybody smile. Riding the camel on the other hand was a far more smelly experience, but still tons of fun! Parasailing was absolutely amazing! I soared 250 feet above the beautiful Caribbean Sea admiring the coastline of Jamaica. Up there I could really take in all Jamaica had to offer.
That year my family also returned to Dominican Republic for my cousin’s wedding where we went deep sea fishing, toured the island, went 4-wheeling and swam in a cave in a small village outside of Punta Cana. This was an excellent trip because we got to travel with family that we hadn’t seen in a very long time and I feel as if though I really connected and got to know some family members in a way that I never did before.
The next summer we decided there was still some of our very own country that had yet to be explored and seen so we packed up our cowboy boots and hats and headed out west to Alberta to take on the Calgary Stampede. I’ll tell you when they say it’s the greatest outdoor show on earth, they’re not lying. The Calgary Stampede is a not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates Alberta’s western heritage, cultures and community spirit. I have never seen anything quite like it! So many people were happy to be there and the vibe was unreal. Calgary is such a beautiful city. It made the experience so much more amazing. While visiting Alberta we figured we should travel out to Banff to see the mountains and go swimming in the hot springs. Seeing pictures of the Rocky Mountains does absolutely no justice to the real thing! The mountains were covered with a rug of trees, but their bare tops were scarfed and beribboned with snow. My sisters and I could hardly wait to arrive in Banff and see them up close, and go swimming in the hot springs. On our way we saw a gigantic elk crossing the road. It’s still so unbelievable to think that our very own country is home to some of the most beautiful species.
As amazing as Alberta was, my cross Canada touring wasn’t done for that summer. My uncle and aunt gave me the absolute greatest gift that year for my birthday; the chance to fly out to Vancouver to see them and spend the week with them. I jumped at the opportunity to travel to British Columbia again. The distant memories of when I was a little girl were still so great that I couldn’t have been more excited to live them again. We toured Vancouver on land and from up above. We went on a sea plane that flew us all around the city and over the ocean that surrounded it. We went to Stanley park where we admired the gardens and totem poles. We also went to Granville Island and the beach where my uncle took me sea kayaking. Sea kayaking was such a great experience. I saw seals, jellyfish and hundreds of bright pink and purple star fish. That weekend we set sail on a big ferry boat and headed to Vancouver Island. There, we went to the parliament buildings, the museum, went shopping and just toured the beautiful cobblestone streets. Although I did some extremely awesome things on this trip, I must say the best part about it was being with my family who I hadn’t seen in a long time and I really can’t think of a better way to spend time with them then travelling around beautiful British Columbia.
Now that my family had travelled a fair amount we figured out that Barbados stole our hearts, we absolutely love it there and have been back three times since. My family booked another trip there for next March break. Unfortunately I will not be joining them for I plan to take part on my biggest journey yet. Next March Break I’ll be taking on Europe for the first time. My school is planning a EF history trip to Canada’s Battlefields and I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity. I absolutely love history, traveling and learning about other cultures, so this trip is a total dream for me. First we fly over seas to the Netherlands, then go on to Amsterdam where we will visit the Anne Frank house. After reading the Anne Frank Diary as a kid I’ve always wanted to see it for myself. We then travel to France where we will see Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach and Normandy. The trip is to conclude with a 3 day stay in Paris where we are free to tour wherever we choose. Words can’t describe how excited I am for this trip of a lifetime. I can’t wait to learn about these countries and our world in a whole new way.
I’m really so lucky to have done all that I have at only 16 years old. I come from a very small village, and although to me, my hometown is still the most beautiful place in the whole world, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to leave it for short periods of time and experience other countries. Traveling has offered me the opportunity to explore the world and open doors for myself. I honestly feel that through trying new things, learning new things and being in diverse communities, it has helped to mold me into the person I am today. I’ve realized I have a passion for travel and by acting on that passion I have made great memories and have gotten a good tan or two! There’s still so much out there I want to see and do. I want to take on this beautiful world head on and live my life to the fullest!