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  • Writer's pictureNeena Rainey

How Travel Expands Your Mind: a journey not a destination.

A travel blog... but not as you know it!

Breathe easy, I am not about to bore you senseless with holiday snaps and recommendations for the best paella in the whole of Spain. Neither do I intend to blow your mind, send your eyes green with envy or even irritate you with weird and wonderful destinations that stretch far beyond your wildest dreams and bank balance.

No…mine is merely to share how travel, be it near or far, has truly opened my mind to different cultures, foods and human diversity.

Neena with her family on holiday with a sunset background

For those that know me, without doubt, you will have heard about my wonderful son Adam who lives on the other side of the world in Australia and my dynamic daughter Tara who lives or has lived, wherever her suitcase falls open.

Whilst some may say my kids have moved away to escape the eternal interference and nagging of their mother…nothing could be further from the truth. It would appear that the old saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is indeed, true. It also appears the further the distance between us...the stronger our bond and ability to communicate becomes.

Neena's children Tara and Adam sat drinking wine with a holiday mountain backdrop

Don’t get me wrong…I miss these two so much, it sometimes physically hurts.

But, I only have myself to blame, as growing up, I drilled it into them that travel not only broadens the mind but also the world would always be their oyster. (Must admit that the second statement was harder to describe to a ten-year-old…I soon explained it had nothing to do with shellfish…more about discovering a hidden pearl!)

Both took me literally!

My son was the first to ‘fly the nest’. In his third year at Loughborough University, he decided it would be far more exciting to be a professional chef in Sydney, rather than a geography teacher in Yorkshire. He never looked back…last month I went out there … alone when he was awarded Australian citizenship. No mean feat for an ambitious young 20 year old that now owns his own company and is hurtling towards making his first million!

My daughter…broke me in more gently. Jumping first from Doncaster to Barnsley (I actually cried when she told me as it seemed so far away)…she soon put me right on that one! The next stop was Leeds, then a fantastic job offer in London. The next was a massive leap of faith as she spent seven years working as a project manager in Dubai.

Neena's children Jack and Grace on a beach in Dubai

Yet it was still not far enough. So, off she trotted to continue her global galivanting… Peru…then Greece…then Argentina. Tara soon embraced her nickname of ‘Dora the Explorer’, backpack always tightly strapped on.

Even when they both got married, one did it in Crete, the other in Bali!

Very quickly, I realised TRAVEL was just a means to an end.

A wonderful way to hook up with my kids.

To TRAVEL was often better than to ARRIVE. Why…? You may well ask.

To TRAVEL meant that excited anticipation of holding your loved one in your arms and propelling you through traffic jams, eternal airport delays or racing for a connecting flight in a terminal so long you actually felt as though you had in fact ‘walked to your destination!’

However…the mind soon makes you realise as soon as you arrive, ‘the clock’ begins to turn in the opposite direction, as the longer you are there, the sooner the date comes for you to depart…but farewells are for another story…

Neena and her family stood in front of a temple

I feel so privileged that their open-minded attitude and hunger for adventure have allowed me to ‘piggyback on their epic adventures’.

Wild camping in the remote deserts of Oman, swimming in crystal waters on remote islands and Antipodean beaches so empty and stunningly beautiful they took my breath away.

Tasting incredible foods and experiencing the cosmopolitan lifestyle of stunning cities.

Yes… long haul without doubt numbs bums and could well numb minds after 22 hours up in the air.

But, instead of moaning about swollen feet and being trapped in a metal cigar full of other people’s farts and coughs…I embrace the opportunity to speed-watch 15 films, sip on whiskey and ginger and dream of the next new fantastic destination my children can open my eyes to.

We have not been together for birthdays, Christmases, the loss of loved ones and the battle to share Zoom calls across four time zones! (Never an easy task around New Year's Eve with a 12-hour time difference!!)

Over the years my husband and I have done our fair share of globe-trotting, a lot of my travelling has been done alone as he has had to hold the fort at home with two kids and two dogs! I have felt frightened, I have felt lonely… I have lost my mind at the incredible beauty this world has to offer.

I have discovered secret corners of London that never cease to feed my curiosity and unveiled the quirkiest interior design shop in the middle of Barnsley!!

I‘ve brunched in five-star hotels in Dubai…I’ve caught and eaten crabs on an isolated island that pirates passed by in the early hours of the morning, seen wild dolphins swim beside our boat and TRAVELED to amazing places just beyond our doorstep.

There have always been two important beliefs that we have always held deep within our hearts.

We are merely but a day away from each other (granted…that day may well seem like the longest of your life) …

’Where ever we all are in the world…however near …however far…we will always share the same moon.

Over the years, knowing that the same moon shines over my babies has indeed provided much comfort.

TRAVEL is a phenomenal gift that we must never take for granted…for only when we step beyond our own front door can we experience the wonder that awaits us.

Even as I type this blog…TRAVEL has allowed me and my husband to drive over to FRANCE and collect ‘Dora,’ her husband Tom and dog Sasha that have just flown in from South America!

TRAVEL will also enable us to take them back to the UK where together we will create more TRAVEL memories. I feel so humble that my own first TRAVEL experience with a static caravan on the East Coast has expanded so much to a big wide world of endless possibilities.

We still have seventeen-year-old twins living at home. They became ‘mobile’ at 3 weeks old and slept in a hotel drawer in Edinburgh and travelled abroad at 11 weeks old!! Not quite sure where on this earth they will decide to ‘take root’…but you can bet your bottom dollar it will be a fantastic place to TRAVEL TO!!

How do you feel travel has affected your mind and the values you place on life and family?

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