We grew up poor. I think it’s important for people to know that. We were never homeless and we always had food on the table, but when taking into account my dad’s salary, we were on the poor scale. My parents couldn’t afford to buy a house so we always rented. They couldn’t afford a car, so we rode the bus. They couldn’t afford vacations, so we didn’t go. We did have all the things we needed in life though … food, a warm home, parents who were always there and always had time for us. Love; the house was full of it – all the time, every single day. My parents rarely argued and they truly loved each other. It is a luxury that a lot of other children don’t have, so in my opinion, we were rich.
My first time on a plane was when I was 16 and we took a family trip to Greece. The only family trip we would ever take. It cost my parents a fortune, but they wanted to give us that one trip. We stayed for 2 months and we got to see where we came from. It was awesome.
It gave me something else, though; the travel bug. And I’ve had it ever since. Whether it’s a small weekend getaway, or a dream vacation, not one year has gone by since then that I have not travelled somewhere.
I took a few bucketlist vacations when I was still living with my parents: Touring the UK, Scotland and Wales in 2000, New Orleans in 2004, California in 2009. Those were amazing vacations and I am so glad I took them.
So then what makes London so special?
First, you all have to understand that I have a love for everything British, and I have had since I was a teenager and heard my first Shakespeare sonnet and read my first Agatha Christie book; their queen, their culture, their history, their literature, their films and TV shows, their theatre, their accents and their men. For me, everything wonderful that I would ever want to live near is in London. It is the hub of life and in my dreams I would one day have the money to live there permanently. You’d think that those reasons are enough to make this trip special. But there is something else; something even more personal.
This is the first trip I am taking while living on my own. For those of you have never done it, living alone is wonderful but also stressful, especially when you only make an ordinary living. I am concerned about money on a daily basis. I am constantly worried that if I lose my job, I will not have enough money to pay my mortgage and eat. When I hear a noise from my washing machine or my oven, I am afraid that something is going to break and then another expense would be added to my list of expenses. I guess it has to do with my parents, but worrying about money (or the lack of it) is in my DNA. I try not to, but usually, I just can’t help it.
People have been asking why I am only taking a week to travel to Europe. “Europe should be done for a longer period of time.” “You can’t see anything in a week.” They have no idea how much this trip is costing me and clearly, they have never lived on their own and have never been the only ones responsible for their life. They don’t mind living in debt and they don’t think of what might happen if they need a new car or they have to call a plumber. I budgeted and budgeted and came up with a figure that allows me to do this dream trip for 1 week. I am not staying at a luxury hotel and I am not eating at luxury restaurants. I will be doing things I have always dreamt of doing and I will be living the dream for a week of my life. I will be travelling by tube and public transportation and I will try walking to most places, because life in London is expensive. I will likely not be buying much and it’ll be fish and chips for a week. But I will be there. I will see Buckingham Palace and tour the Harry Potter studios. I will “shop” on Oxford Street and see Big Ben. I will visit locations from Sherlock and see the Sherlock Holmes museum. I will arrive in London at Paddington Station. On my first day there, I will go to Notting Hill and enjoy the outdoor market on Portobello road. And on my last day there, I will have high tea at the National Theatre and go see Romeo & Juliet at the Garrick Theatre.
I will do all those things with money I earned. I earned it by myself, without anyone’s help. I managed my budget, sacrificed a bit and now I am reaping the rewards. There is a small voice in the back of my head feeling guilty for spending so much money on a vacation. But then I remember that I own a condo and I take care of things by myself and have been for the past 6 years. My love of travelling comes from my dad and I’m sure he’s beaming with pride right now. I am proud of myself actually.