Travel Changes You…

As we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, I find myself reminiscing of all the adventures I’ve had over the last 25 years of my travel career.  Having been fortunate enough to see the great Pyramid up close, bungee jumped in New Zealand, snorkelled in the Galapagos Islands and cruise down the Rhine River in Germany, my mind always seems to wander back to my trip to Tuscany and the Italian Riviera.  This is by far my most memorable trip as I was lucky enough to share that experience with my Mom.  I decided in 2017 that it was time she stop living “vicariously through me” and start living.  Having lost my dad in 2015 a trip like this was so far outside her comfort zone she tried multiple times to say “no” to me when I was tirelessly trying to convince her to join me on this trip.  Thankfully one day she gave in to my persistence and off we went on our Italian adventure…

During our first evening in Tuscany (at our Tuscan Villa), we joined our fellow travellers that evening for a family style dinner and a cooking class.  I sat back and listened to my mom brag to her fellow travellers that she was here with her daughter and that this was her first time leaving North America – her first real trip if you will.  I knew this was an experience my mom would have wanted to share with my Dad and I could see the emotion as she attempted to get to know her fellow travellers.

After a day trip to Florence we found ourselves enjoying a bottle of wine in the garden of the villa with our new friends celebrating Mother’s Day.  They say in Italy it is good luck if you get pooped on by a bird, well, guess what happened to Mom that day!


Over the next week we visited the cities of Florence, Sienna, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Portofino. We ate and drank our way through Italy sipping on Cappuccino’s, tasting the local wines and of course the gelato! Each day I could see mom become more and more confident with her decision to leave her comfort zone and explore all that this wonderful destination had to offer her.

During our farewell dinner, a fellow traveller pulled me aside and told me that my mom was not the same woman who arrived in Italy 8 days ago.  They had seen her grow and flourish in the short time we were in Italy.  It was true, travel changed her.  It changed her in a way that she had a newly found confidence in herself.  Even though she would have loved to have shared memories like this with my Dad, she now knew she could still get out and see the world on her own (I think he would be pretty proud of her!)

For anyone out there hesitating about traveling on their own for the first time, from the lips of my now to be 74 year old mother – just go, get out there and see the world as it is not meant to be lived in one place!

By Lisa Elliott, Director of Operations of Trip Merchant

June, 2, 2020


Leave a Reply