A travel connection unlike any other

I’ve definitely made some incredible connections with people in my life – but why is it that a travel connection seems so much deeper? Of my travel connections, there were some which were all but forgotten shortly after, like that guy who operates the Hookah shop in a back alley in Luxor. On the other side of the spectrum, there were other travel connections that will last a lifetime, like one made during my most recent travels through Thailand and Borneo with fellow travel blogger Anthony Middleton (pictured below with another great travel blogger and friend, James T. Clark).

Chiang Mai, Thailand - Songrkan travel connections
Travel Bloggers vs Chiang Mai, Thailand’s Songkran Festival
Kuching, Borneo - Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre
Checking out Orangutans in the wild with Anthony (of Man vs Clock) in Borneo

However, without taking away from any of the other special and life-changing travel connections I’ve made, I’d have to say my most meaningful travel connection was actually with someone I already knew. Having worked in the travel industry with an adventure travel tour operator for 6 years came with some perks – the best of which was the annual discounted tour, anywhere in the world they operated. In speaking with a work colleague, Miss Erin Schildermans, we both expressed an interest in travelling to Antarctica around the same time. We figured it would be nice to share such a unique experience with someone we know, and so why not try travelling together. We were good enough acquaintances at the time to be considered friends, though most of our associating happened down at the local watering hole and hadn’t yet ventured much deeper than that.

Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania - We made it!
Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania – A wildlife lover’s paradise!

Our dream trip was in the final stages of being approved and confirmed when a tragic accident actually caused the vessel to sink after hitting an ice burg. Once assessing the situation and knowing that all passengers were safe, it began to sink in that our possibilities of doing such a unique voyage lay 20 leagues below the sea along with the ship that was intended to take us there. In a frantic last minute scramble, we asked each other where the other had intended to travel next. We both then realized that travelling around eastern Africa was actually a common goal and desire. With some last minute arrangements, less than a month later we took off on what would be a life changing experience for both of us, making our travel connection that much stronger.

Netherlands, Amsterdam - Cone Fries
Eating Cone-Fries in Amsterdam!

Two long flights with 8-12 hour layovers (at least they were in Amsterdam and Johannesburg) , 90+ hours of driving 12 hour days, and 3 weeks in a tent will either make two people want to kill each other, or will make them better friends than ever before. Fortunately for Erin and myself, it was the latter. After surviving this crucial test, we became travelling buddies, and decided to take all of our annual trips together, in addition to several other independent ones as well.

Peace from Takayama, Japan
Peace from Takayama, Japan
Nikko, Japan - prayers in a samurai temple
Prayers in a samurai temple in Nikko, Japan
Kamakura Japan - Mystic temple Jump Shot
Mystic Temple (necessary) Jump Shot in Kamakura, Japan!

Together, we’ve now conquered all 7 continents together, including Antarctica. This is a feat I’d say few have accomplished in their lifetime, let alone being able to do so with the same person. It’s an incredibly powerful travel connection for both of us! Now we’re trying to figure out what our next travel goals will be? To sail the 7 seas? Visit all the world wonders? The sky is the limit… unless our next goal is the Moon?! Then there really are no limits.

Buenos Aires, Argentina - Taking it in
Taking it all in – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina
Three Amigos in the Southern most National Park in the World! Tierra del Fuego!

Having seen each other at our best… and worst (oh the stories I’m leaving out – maybe save them for another blog entry), we’ve been through a lot together. This of course means that all those other “connections” one thinks of with the act of travelling, we’ve both shared. Facebook would tell you we have the most “Common Friends” and travel connections out of any other – I could have told you that without a doubt in my mind. Perhaps unexpectedly at first, Erin has become the Pinky to my Brain (I know I’ll get punched for that one – it’s probably the other way around), a best friend through thick and thin, and as close to a sister as I’ll ever know.

Antarctica - Erin and Ian
WE MADE IT! Antarctica zodiac cruisin’!!
Port Lockroy, Antarctica
The “Ice Pirates” making it to Port Lockroy, Antarctica

I’m curious to think where our friendship would be now had we not taken the leap of faith in travelling together all those years ago – all that matters is that it did happen, and this travel connection was able to be made. For that I’m grateful.

White Temple, Chiang Rai
The bizarre and incredible White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Temples in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Exploring the temples of Northern Thailand

Do you have any stories of your favourite travel connection? Was your favourite travel connection with a person or a place itself? What do you think defines a powerful travel connection? Please share in the comment section below!

8 Responses

    1. Thanks Lola.. I totally agree! If you can find someone you travel long-term well with, hold on to them. They’ll end up understanding you better than friends you may have known most of your life. 🙂

  1. I just read this again and it makes me miss you a lot brother!! So happy to have shared some of my best travel experiences with you and can’t wait to conqueror #7 some day! Xoxoxo

    1. Aww 🙂 Now I read it too! So happy we’ve been able to continue the adventures even since this post! I miss you too big sis… feel like touring Europe with me next month? I land in Paris Oct 12. haha though it’s still not Oceania. Hopefully I’ll be in Canada next summer as well. Hope you’re well and the road (of life) is treating you well xoxoxo

  2. WOW!
    Kamkura Temple is really beautiful. My wife and me already planning to Japan tour and your information will help us lot. Thanks you.

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