We might see travel first and foremost as a temporary state of island-hopping, living out of suitcases and ticking off bucket list musts. But travel has always played a more permanent role in my family history.
My parents immigrated from Hong Kong and Malaysia respectively, and without travel, I wouldn’t exist. I owe a lot to my colourful background and these are just some of the invaluable lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
Travel is opportunity
When my maternal grandfather started a new life in England for his family, and later, when my Dad bought his one-way ticket from East Malaysia, they had the same mission: to seek something better, and something more. You don’t have to uphaul your entire life to realise that travel provides so many opportunities that aren’t available within the two-mile radius of your home. It’s why I’d much rather spend my money on a plane ticket than kitting out my wardrobe with more dresses that I don’t need. Money spent on experiences is almost always worth it.
Maintaining long-distance relationships requires work and dedication
Everyone knows that communication is key when it comes to relationships. This is even truer when these relationships span across borders, oceans and continents. Of course, keeping in regular contact is easier said than done. But when the chances of being able to pop round for a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) are slim, keeping in touch with loved ones and making an effort with them is crucial to maintaining that relationship. Keep them informed of big news in your life, set up regular calls with them, and let them know how much they mean to you.
Embrace your heritage
As the only Asian child in most of my classes at school, I was always made aware – either unintentionally or intentionally – that I was different and like most children, I wanted nothing more than to fit in. But now that I’m older (and hopefully wiser), I happily embrace who I am. I’m lucky to have experienced so many cultural delights and to have inherited so many customs because of my heritage.
Immerse yourself in other cultures
Thanks to my family scattered around the globe, I am extremely fortunate to have been able to live as the locals do in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Tourist-laden restaurants are swapped for trips to the local market to pick up produce for that evening’s dinner. Seeing somewhere through the eyes of a local is one of the most rewarding things about travelling. Even if you don’t know anyone in a particular country, ditch the guidebook. Seek your Airbnb host’s recommendations or ask the staff at your hotel for tips on their favourite hangouts.
The world really is your oyster
My family’s journey from Asia to England taught me that if you really want something, truly believe in yourself, and you’ll achieve it. It doesn’t always have to involve a move to a different part of the world, but it does mean carving out the life you want. My family taught me that there are no limits even if the best things in life don’t come easy.
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