"I then realized all my travels were essentially with my husband and it was time to step outside my comfort zone even more."
He asked me on numerous occasions to join him on his travels to Europe and many other places. I usually said no, I’m fine at home. Then I started to say yes a few times, only to have an excuse to cancel at the last minute. Then one day, he just said, I bought your ticket, you are coming with me to Florida. I experienced such anxiety before we left, but I managed to self-talk my way through it and we had a lovely time. My next trip with him was the same circumstance; but this time he bought a ticket for me to accompany him to Spain. I was a complete wreck, I cried for days. Not only was I going with him, I had to attend official functions with him. I had no idea what to do, I didn’t have the right clothes, and what would I say to these people?
After Spain, something changed in me. I could travel, I could meet strangers and I did have things to say. I still had anxiety right before a trip, but it was more about not forgetting anything, packing and managing family schedules.
Within a couple of years we had travelled to many countries in Europe, Australia and Hawaii and other parts of the United States. I did not want to miss a trip with my husband if it could be arranged. I loved it! I even began to teach him how to make the most of his work travel by incorporating extra visits and tours to nearby sights and countries.
I then realized all my travels were essentially with my husband and it was time to step outside my comfort zone even more. I volunteered to work in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I was eventually accepted after several months and scheduled to depart in January 2009. Not only would I be on my own for a year, I would be going to a theatre of war and also one of the hottest places on earth. I hated the heat; I did not tolerate it well and suffered motion sickness. Was I crazy? My family sure thought I was. It was difficult to garner support from anyone, friends, family or colleagues; however, this somehow made me more determined than ever.
I planned and trained and all the while gained more momentum each day for the adventure I was about to embark on. I will admit I did have butterflies the actual evening of my departure. The year was everything and more than I anticipated and each day I challenged myself even more. On leave from work I travelled to many countries this time coaxing my husband to join me.
My stay in Afghanistan was about to end and my husband threw a curve ball my way I did not see coming. He asked me would I be willing to leave my job and travel to Southeast Asia with him for three years. I didn’t know how to react, but deep down I was giddy with excitement. I also knew that if had I not said yes to Afghanistan I can’t imagine I would be saying yes to this? Ironically, Asia was an even bigger challenge than a war zone as I was essentially unemployed and leaving my family behind yet again. By now, however, I was an avid traveller and prided myself on organizing my husband’s work travel to the five countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines and Timor Leste.
Travel now was second nature to me, I had more loyalty cards and points programs than you can imagine! The three years were the best of times and the worst of times. I lost my mother and father –in law, that pain never goes away. I was now challenging my health and my very soul. I had as much family as possible come to visit and we also travelled to see family in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and numerous trips back to Canada. The stories are far too many to share in this writing.
Through travel I have grown in so many ways possible it is hard to count, it changed my life. Any advice I could offer to anyone who makes excuses for another day, another time, don’t listen to those voices. You will not regret challenging yourself and finding someone inside of you, you never knew existed.
Gail Latouche is a Corrections Manager at Stony Mountain Penitentiary in Manitoba, Canada. You can get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org