MAGICAL TRAVEL: SHIFTING YOUR VIEW AND YOUR SOUL
by Erin Oldershaw
For me travel has always been a sort of addiction. Ever since I sat in the front row of Mrs. Gilbert’s Spanish class my sophomore year of high school looking at photos of the latest senior trip to Spain, I knew travel would become my drug of choice. As soon as I was old enough to travel on my own, I became the planner of every spring break trip and eventually spent a semester abroad in, you guessed it, Spain.
While living in Madrid, I had the opportunity to travel through Spain, Italy and France. I spent a long, cold weekend in Amsterdam and even ventured past the Rock of Gibraltar into Africa. In those five months abroad I was the most terrified I have ever been, but also the most exhilarated, the proudest, the loneliest, the most wondrous. It’s a mixture of feelings I’ve chased ever since.
Most of the magical moments in my life can be traced back to travel. A trip to a destination wedding in Mexico connected me with my now-husband. My best friend since the 3rd grade moved to Vancouver, and now travel to British Columbia every year brings me the therapy that only a week with a lifelong best friend can provide. As my drug of choice – I use travel to celebrate every milestone and when life gets even the tiniest bit hard, I rush to my computer, pull up Google, and begin a search for my next destination.
Over time, what I want and need from travel has shifted greatly. Here are the searches at the top of my most recent browser history:
WHERE TO GO FOR THE BEST NIGHT SLEEP.
I had you at hello, didn’t I? Well, stay with me here, but the key to really great sleep? No booze, no electronics, daily exercise and a healthy dose of Vitamin D (wear sunblock). It’s been said that sleep is the third pillar of health, so if you are searching for the perfect night’s sleep check out Nayara Springs in Costa Rica. Set on the fringe of Arenal Volcano National Park, the only way to access this unique adults-only spa and hotel is via a 250 foot pedestrian bridge above the canopy of the rainforest.
Book the Digital Detox Special at Nayara Springs and prepare to hand over your devices for safe keeping. In return for your surrender, you’ll receive a complimentary yoga class, meditation session and early bird watching walk. Spend your days hiking through a series of hanging bridges, walking through lava fields or cuddling animals at the Wildlife Rescue Center.
Back at the hotel you have the option of the spa treatments in an open-air pavilion, yoga classes or a dip in the infinity pool. And of course, fine dining abound. At the end of the day it is your call if you want to skip that glass of wine to maximize your REM, but between the exercise, sun and absence of your iPhone, you are sure to be set up for the BEST. SLEEP.EVER. Remember to pack your Sunday Forever Kimono - it was made for a vacation like this.
WHERE TO GO TO FEEL SMALL.
I don’t mean emotionally or even figuratively. I mean literally. There was a moment when I stood perched at the southernmost tip of continental Europe; standing on this crazy windy beach in Spain I realized the only thing between me and another continent was the expansive sea. It was humbling, awe-inspiring and gave me an incredible sense of the magnitude of this crazy and beautiful planet. I felt small, but at the same time part of something so much bigger than myself. It’s a feeling that is at once liberating, grounding and sobering. A great friend always reminds me, “No matter where you go, there you are,” and I find when I am standing at the edge of the world, I am forced and freed to have those honest conversations about who I am, what I am feeling, and how it is serving me in the pursuit of the life I truly want.
The Fogo Island Inn is an island off an island. (No really, that’s their tagline.) I’ll never do this amazing place justice in a few lines of copy, so take a few moments to click through to their website. The island sits at one of the four corners of the Earth - off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The inn features 29 unique guest rooms, all boasting floor-to-ceiling windows which allow you to witness the power of the ocean at this convergence in the world. The inn is a community asset, and 100% of operating surpluses are reinvested into the community.
The Fogo Islanders identify seven different seasons and each season is marked with a specific activity, such as boat-building, whale-watching, jam bottling. No matter when you visit, you step back in time and witness wildlife and hospitality like no other. They say even if you visit alone, when you leave, you will be leaving home.
WHERE TO GO TO WRITE THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL.
It’s long been my dream to write the great American novel. TBH – right now I’m happy writing anything over 1,000 words. I’m still working on the story, but once I have the pieces in place, I know the perfect place to lock myself away to write and write and write.
For me that perfect place is a magical cottage in the Cotwolds in England. With its temperamental weather, and lush green setting, this part of the world is ideal for sitting inside with your laptop, a warm cup of tea and the thoughts swirling in your mind. When the sun appears, take a stroll through lush, green gardens and let the story inside your mind come to life.
This country house is set near the village of Painswick, which dates back to 1428. When you just can’t stand to stare at the blank page any longer, wander into town and stop in one of the many local pubs. In my experience, the English have mastered the art of comfortable silence, so pop into a pub, order a pint and be prepared to be alone with your thoughts. And, if you want to strike up a conversation, start with the weather and most definitely stay away from the topic of Brexit.
WHERE TO GO TO CURE YOUR GAME OF THRONES WITHDRAWAL. (WARNING – SPOILER ALERTS – SORT OF.)
Yes, I feel you. I, too, keep waking up in the middle of the night with so many unanswered questions. Where did Drogon take Daenerys? How did she get that perfect manicure? Why is there still a wall? Is Jon Snow still single? Set your own sights north and plan an icy adventure without even leaving the continent. The Hotel Du Glace in Quebec, CA is the only hotel in North America made entirely out of ice. The hotel changes themes each year, but you can live out your Wildling fantasies as you spend the night in an igloo. For an upgrade you can splurge for the Fire and Ice suites which feature a fireplace. When you are not looking for the true heir to the throne, you can spend your time in outdoor hot tubs and saunas under the stars and ice skating on the Nordic paths. If you happen to find your one true love, or even bring them with you, there is an ice chapel perfect for a wedding. Maybe, just don’t invite the Boltons.
WHERE TO GO TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE WORLD AGAIN.
Is it just me or are we all starved for a little positivity and hope these days? We travel to escape, but every time I hop into a taxi in a foreign country, the driver wants to talk about American politics. (PRO TIP: If you want to know about the true heart of a city – ask your cab driver!)
Over the past few months as I was dream-planning travel, I began to research a totally new type of vacationing – activist tourism. Turns out I’m not the only one who wants to spend my free time giving back and making the world a better place. Check out responsiblevacation.com. The goal of this organization is to make tourism a more caring industry, providing examples of responsible tourism, providing a better vacation for both vacationer and tourist destinations populations, along with activism and campaigns to target the bad practices of the tourism industry. In addition to matching people with responsible vacation plans, there is also an entire section dedicated to volunteer travel where you spend your trip volunteering for a cause that is important to you. You can choose from volunteering with children or animals or volunteering in specific parts of the world. They provide so many options for those who just want to find a meaningful way to give back.
Whether travel for you is an escape, or a motivator, or a connector or a liberator, fire up your laptop and start virtually exploring. There’s a whole lot of world out there. Find your motivation, start your own Google search and get to booking. Bon voyage and make sure you send us a postcard (an insta-tag @thesundayissues works too!)
Erin Oldershaw is a full time COO of a boutique retail consulting firm and a part time wanderer and writer. She believes that timing is everything and when the moment is right you will find what you need when you need it, including friends, hot yoga, organic wine and babysitters. Follow her in Instagram at @eorlov.