My mum asks me to send her a postcard from wherever I go, and every time she receives them, she gives me a call and tells me how excited she is that I have visited yet another country on my list. She keeps count of the number of countries I've seen and is my biggest supporter when it comes to getting out there and making the most of it, no matter how much she misses me while I'm away.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a very special bond with my mum. She is one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. She has a heart of gold and her generosity knows no boundaries. There is nothing she wouldn't do for the people she loves, especially when it comes to me and my younger siblings. We've always been the apple of her eye and her whole life has been dedicated to raising us to become our best selves. We were taught to be generous and kind and to be appreciative of what we have without being afraid of wanting more and chasing our dreams.
There are a lot of characteristics and values that I share with my mum, but funnily enough, the only thing we don't share is my love of travel.
My mum values nothing more than the security and comfort of the home she has created for herself and her family. While I never had much tolerance for her disinterest in traveling, I started to realise a couple of years ago that she wasn't actually disinterested – but that her bond and attachment to the place where I grew up had a far deeper meaning. She used to move house a lot when she was a child; she had to change schools all the time and never managed to stay at a place for long enough to form close bonds and friendships with other people. What she has created for us as a family is something she treasures so much because she never had it growing up.
Despite this, she and my dad always went to great lengths to take us kids on vacations throughout the whole of Europe while we were young. I still have the fondest memories of these vacations I shared with my parents and my three younger siblings. Traveling has been the greatest thing in the world for me for as long as I can remember. The feeling of arriving at a place I'd never been to before, meeting new people, exploring new surroundings, filled me with so much joy and enthusiasm, I cried every time we had to go back home.
I always told my parents that, when I grew up, I would travel the world. My mum still asks me to send her a postcard from wherever I go, and every time she receives them, she gives me a call and tells me how excited she is that I have visited yet another country on my list. She keeps count of the number of countries I've seen and is my biggest supporter when it comes to getting out there and making the most of it, no matter how much she misses me while I'm away.
I started going on vacations on my own from a pretty young age. My mum was just as supportive of these trips as she was worried! I knew that, no matter where I went, she’d come to the rescue in a heartbeat if I needed her, without being overbearing. She trusted me to be able to look after myself and this made me trust myself that I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted to.
The first "unsupervised" trip I took was with three of my best friends when I was 15. We all went to London together for 5 days and I still remember it like it was yesterday. This feeling of being able to discover a new place all on our own was so exhilarating and liberating, I felt like the whole world had suddenly opened up for us.
This trip was closely followed by at least a couple more every year to different places within Europe and it's neighbouring countries; Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Lithuania, etc. After school, I decided that a couple of holidays a year weren’t enough for me anymore, and I chose to study abroad. First in Spain and then in England which turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.
It’s six years ago now that I met Nick, the love of my life, while studying in London. My mum tells me it's fate that he is from New Zealand, a country so far away from home, because it makes me travel around the world (literally) at least once a year. We've just spent the last 5 years living together in New Zealand and the other side of the world couldn’t feel more like home to me. I finally feel like I’ve arrived where I always belonged.
The day I left Germany to move there, I told my mum that it would only be for a year. I think we both knew that it wouldn't be and yet we pretended together to not make it even harder than it already was. Saying goodbye to my mum every time I come home for a visit literally breaks my heart. It never seems to get easier and yet she always tells me how happy and proud she is that I am living my dream. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been able to get out there and live in these far away places if it wasn't for my incredibly strong support system at home. We all are, not only the sum of our parent's genes, but also of our experiences, and I for one know how lucky I am to have been raised by someone that always had my best interests at heart and let me create and shape my life the way I wanted it with nothing but unconditional love and endless support.
One month ago I moved back home to Germany to live here with my partner for one year.
I felt the need to spend some time with my family and friends again, especially with my mum. Within the past year, she has created a business all on her own. She’d always dreamed of doing this and now I am the one who is proud of her for chasing this dream and making it happen. I came back to offer support and cheer her on. It might not have anything to do with travel or far away places but it sure is an adventure and I am so grateful and excited to be able to join her and come along for the ride.
Author - Natalie Gruner
A travel girl at heart, Nat co-created Travelher and is currently working remotely on a few different projects from her homeland, Germany. She is planning to settle in New Zealand in the near future, while building a more flexible life for herself that allows her to live in paradise without compromising regular home visits and continuous globetrotting.