Dear Loved Ones

Dear Loved Ones: an open letter to those we leave behind…

When I told you I was leaving, I didn’t know where I was heading. I just knew I had to go.
You looked at me with an amused smile and sadness in your eyes. My excited ramblings about needing to escape my comfort zone and live my life confused you. Wasn’t life already good here?
I gave a million reasons as I tried to justify this knot in my stomach. My heart longed for newness, lands I’d never seen and people I’d never met. It wasn’t easy to explain. I felt selfish. Maybe I’m selfish.
I talked as knowledgeably as I could about the Thai Islands I was going to learn to dive around, the mountains I was going to climb. But, I had no clue. You could see that and I know it worried you. You asked me if this was what I really wanted. I didn’t know, but I said yes anyway.
We talked, but my mind was already made up. You asked me how I was going to do it, and you let me ramble on about buses, trains and budgets. In all honesty, I had no idea how I was going to survive. I had so many fears about never talking to another soul, being sick and alone, just not being able to do it. Perhaps, I’d spend a year holed up in one hostel sharing inspiring images I found on Google.
Through all your fears, you supported me anyway. Your words of encouragement and love, gave me the green light to chase adventure. My journey would never have happened without you, I am grateful.
We cried, we hugged, we shared letters and promises to keep in touch. Even back then, deep down, we knew that things would never be the same again.
But I left anyway.
I’ve learnt that I can do it. Travelling is a privilege and one I’m eternally grateful for. All those fears disappeared and the sheer wonder and freedom I feel every single day is what I was running to.
I know I’ve changed and I couldn’t help it. I am still me, but well I’m different too. I love my travelling life and I’ve learnt to be content and at peace. I envy your intrinsic serenity but please understand that I had to leave to find mine.
I love you, but I love travel too.
Read more about guest author Johanna Whitaker’s travels and adventures at:

Teresa Baker

Changing the Face of National Parks

From grassroots efforts to new hires and programs at 

the National Park Service, a growing coalition hopes 

to get more people outdoors.