*This post is (an updated version) from David’s book, “Punch Failure in The Face, The Buy It a Beer”
With the pandemic (hopefully) finally rounding the corner, this week our country dropped another restriction; one that for many, has been the worst of all. As of April 1st, 2022, after travelling abroad, vaccinated Canadians no longer need testing to re-enter the country.
Like many others, this is the game-changer I’ve been waiting for! So much so, that I’ve already booked my next trip to visit Spain, Portugal and Morocco next September. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
I can’t say enough about the effect world travel has had on my life. The amazing things I’ve seen and experienced by travelling fifty-five (or is it fifty-six?) countries so far has opened up my heart and mind in ways I never knew possible.
Forget the recently popularized (and minority) viewpoint suggesting our country is not “free”; I’d be surprised if those espousing these theories have (a) ever been out of North America, (b) realize that Africa is not a country, or (c) still believe “harass” is two words.
All I know is that global travel has taught me just how fortunate I am to call Canada – and not places like Ukraine, Russia or North Korea- my home and native land. Maybe those who question this could travel abroad and find out for themselves? (Good luck with that)
And to be clear, by “global travel” I don’t mean food & booze-soaked stints at Mexican all-inclusive beach resorts boasting six pools, seven bars and eight buffet restaurants. While they can be fun, they aren’t the rewarding, life-changing experiences that exploring ancient ruins or hiking through rainforest waterfalls or learning local customs from village elders are rewarding and life-changing. Not by a long shot (of tequila).
All-inclusive holidays are all about excessive booze, food and relaxation while adventure travel is all about culture, education, adventure and self-knowledge. Since it expands my view of the world, I love adventure travel; even though it can be difficult (and it can) the experiences and memories make up for it tenfold.
I loved feeling the gentle sway of the camel I’m riding as he lazily plodded through the Sahara desert, or feeling the hot Mediterranean sun on the black sand beaches of the Greek Islands.
I’ve witnessed the holy cremation ceremonies in Varanasi, India and Kathmandu, Nepal, and by watched the Big Five as they freely roamed South Africa’s Kruger National Park. I’ve hiked high in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and had a front seat to the Himalayas whilst trekking in Nepal.
No amount of all-inclusive goodness can even come close to these kinds of experiences or adventures. These days I’m able to go abroad at least once each year, but it wasn’t always this way. After backpacking Europe in my mid-twenties, a series of poor life choices derailed me financially; and with them took travelling off the table indefinitely.
About this time 24-hour news burst onto our TV’s saying the world was full of terrorists, disease, violence and political unrest; at least that’s what they said. Even if I could afford to travel, hearing that suicide bombers were in every airport waiting to kill me twenty-four hours a day, did I want to take that chance? No way! Just like today, it was media fear-mongering at its finest. But wait a minute: Having travelled Europe I knew there were good people in the world and wondered if maybe – just maybe – the news channels were fear-mongering to get ratings. Would they really do such a thing? Say it ain’t so!
I wanted to experience more foreign cultures, but was hesitant because of the daily reports on CNN. I concluded that despite what the TV said, the only way to learn the truth was to travel to the most culturally jarring place I knew of. So that’s what I did. After a year of planning, I landed in a part of the world famous for its instability, terrorist attacks and political unrest; Yep, Welcome To The Middle East! I’d spend the next few weeks with an adventure company travelling Egypt and Israel by train, ship and camel, and on a bus with a military police escort.
When I mentioned this part my friends all said I was crazy, that I’d never make it home alive, etc. but I didn’t share their fears, and for good reason. The company I travelled with exposed the fear mongering for what it was. In fact, on this trip I got to peek behind the curtain and see firsthand how 24-hour news purposely sensationalizes stories to strike fear in viewers.
I was in my hotel in Bethlehem (yep, THAT Bethlehem) when CNN “Breaking News” reported an explosion in – wait for it – Bethlehem. Watching the footage repeated every few minutes you’d think the whole city was on fire! But when I asked around, the locals all said it was a small conflict miles away that lasted a just few minutes. If it weren’t on TV, no one few would have even known about it! Fuck you, CNN!
So, how did my “dangerous” trip go? It was mind-blowing! I saw King Tutankhamen’s treasures in the Cairo Museum, the Sphinx and pyramids, and ancient temples including Abu Simbiland and Karnak; and that was just Egypt! Next stop: Israel!
Wow; so many things to do! In Jerusalem we visited the Stations of the Cross, the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock. Afterwards we went floating in the saline-rich waters (and got black mud facials) at The Dead Sea, and then visited Masada, the ancient Judean fortress to learn about King Harrods resistance of the Romans before stopping at Qumran, the resting place of the Dead Sea Scrolls. before seeing the actual scrolls in a museum. Amazing.
An organized group made me feel both safe and confident, so much that I’ve been travelling ever since on six continents, and am excited that next year I’ll finally travel to number seven–Antarctica.
The experiences we have and the people we meet while travelling helps us understand both ourselves, and the planet we all share. Spending time in developing countries makes us appreciate our own homes. It opens up our hearts and minds. It absolutely 100% makes us more understanding and empathetic of other people.
You can’t get these life experiences or memories from all-inclusive vacations. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Author Bio: David Knapp-Fisher
As founder of The Inspired Humans Project, David loves sharing inspirational stories. His TEDx talk, “Discipline or Regret, a Father’s Decision” been viewed over 112,000 times, and his book, “Punch Failure in The Face, The Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. and spends most of his time trying (& usually failing) to stump his son with movie trivia or planning his next big adventure; both while drinking great coffee, of course.