Not everyone was born a traveller. Take me, for instance. I was barely eighteen, fresh out high school. The closest I’d ever been to travelling was on the Flight to Mars simulator at the planetarium. Such is the life of a sheltered East Van kid. The university I applied to had sent me a letter that began, “Dear Kathy, We regret to inform you…” Well, shit. There go my plans for the next four years. So naturally when my partner of six months asked me to go live in the Rocky Mountains with him, I said yes.
My poor parents were not thrilled, to say the least. How long are you going for? I’m not sure. What will you do when you’re there? I don’t know, get a job? …somehow? You’re going with that boy?!? Um, yes.
So the trip didn’t begin well. Panic and I (yes, I dated a guy who liked to call himself Panic― gimme a break; I was young) took the Greyhound. My parents had made it clear that I was a terrible daughter for abandoning them, and the cold guilt on my shoulders did nothing to help me feel less cramped during the thirteen-hour bus ride from Vancouver to Banff. My bad mood became infectious, and we had our first fight as a couple. Over what, I can’t remember.
It was dark when we finally arrived at our destination. This is it? I was disappointed. I left my friends and family, and everything I’ve ever known for this? In my mind I had pictured Banff to be a sort of Canada-themed theme park, with elk and caribou parading through the town, Canada geese trumpeting O Canada overhead, beavers bestowing leis of pine and roses upon newcomers. I did not speak to Panic as we checked into the hostel.
Fast-forward two months. I had fallen out of love with the boy named Panic, and into love with the beautiful little town in the mountains. I had managed to get a job selling jewellery at a funky shop on the main drag. My roommates, both older than me (one from Brampton, Ontario, and the other from Australia) became like sisters, dispensing sage wisdom when I needed it, and yelling at me when I borrowed their clothes. My parents eventually accepted the fact that I’d grown up, and we talked every week. Life was good.
I find myself thinking back to the beginning of my adventure, that first day when I woke up on the top bunk at Samesun Banff hostel. It’s odd how sleeping in a room full of strangers can change your whole perspective. These people. They’ve been everywhere, coming from every corner of the earth, and somehow, miraculously, we find ourselves in the same room, on the same night, sharing that bright sense of something new― excitement. When I saw the morning light streamed in through the window, and I knew that things would be okay. The sweet smile I got at the Samesun front desk girl told me that they’d be better than okay.
I worked for a couple more months in Banff, then moved to Lake Louise to work at the Chateau, and then briefly I lived in Golden Ears. After that, I used my savings to buy a plane ticket to Australia. I visited my old roommate, did some backpacking (another story!), and made some wonderful memories…
Not everyone was born a traveller, but anyone can become one. You just need to say yes. Panic, wherever you are, THANK YOU!
Thanks to Kathy for sharing her backpacker story with us. She will receive a free night accommodation at any of the Samesun Backpacker Hostels.
You can WIN a free night too just for telling us your personal experience on the road as a young (or young at heart) traveler in Canada or around the world. Visit our backpacker blogs to find out how.