10:29 24 May 2013
This weekend, I’ll be taking a bittersweet trip with a much-treasured and well-travelled friend. In our 10 years together, we’ve journeyed through some of the biggest moments in my life – events that have challenged me, thrilled me, broken my heart, mended it again, made me happier than I could imagine and ultimately played a large part in who I am.
Sadly, our upcoming BA flight 994 to Berlin will be our last. My friend is about to expire.
That’s right. My faithful passport, which has accompanied me on more than 30 trips in the last decade, is due to be replaced.
I grew up in Australia, where many people don’t travel overseas until late. When I reached 24, having slogged to forge my early career in PR, I decided it was high time I saw a bit more of the world. I saved up for my trip of a lifetime, took possession of my gleaming first passport, and set off for eight weeks’ travelling in Europe and America.
That trip – I started in London and visited Edinburgh, Paris, Rome, New York and San Francisco – sparked my life-long love affair with travel and changed things forever.
Back in Sydney, travel was in my blood. My boss could see I had the itch and, rather than lose me to wanderlust for good, he gave me an assignment in China. Flying into Beijing I thought my eight-week solo adventure had made me a seasoned traveller. How wrong I was.
Straight off the 12-hour flight, I piled into a taxi and sped at 140km per hour through the noisiest, hottest, most crowded and overwhelming city I had ever visited. I spoke no Mandarin, I didn’t really know where I was going and, when I finally managed to get to my hotel after many false starts, I dropped my bags on the floor and wept. How on earth I was going to survive the months ahead?
The next day – taking my dad’s advice to ‘keep your chin up’ – I ventured out to explore. Walking through the Forbidden City, marvelling at the extraordinary workmanship of handcrafted dragons and Gods on the gold-leafed ceilings, I knew I would be absolutely fine. When my time in China came to an end, I was gutted – I had fallen totally and utterly in love with it.
In fact, love has been a big theme of my time with my passport. It has taken me on many a trip to destinations that were more memorable than the boyfriends I travelled with, and again on to more meaningful love affairs and commitments.
After China, I reconnected with an old university boyfriend, who had moved back to his native London. Thousands of emails and many more phone calls later, I decided to pack in my job in Sydney and move to the UK to chase a dream of everlasting love and try my hand at a career in London.
Suffice to say, my everlasting love turned out to be with London rather than my original object of affection. The city’s buzz, history, people, romance and fantastic career opportunities had me at ‘hello’ – and it’s yet to release its grip.
My everlasting love turned out to be with London
From London, my passport and I have seen the world – trips to Venice, Prague, Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne, Rome, Paxos, Sardinia, New York, Barcelona, Hong Kong… the list goes on.
But I met my husband in London. A fellow travel lover, he and my passport got on famously from the word go. Four months after meeting, we skipped taking a mini-break in Brighton and went straight to two weeks in Barbados.
When it came to getting married, we naturally gathered our favourite people together and hopped on a plane to an exotic destination – Ibiza – followed by a honeymoon on safari in South Africa and on the beach in Mauritius.
My passport has taken me to some of the most incredible and far flung places in the world. I’ve seen sunrises in the bush in South Africa, dined in high-rise apartments in Hong Kong, been a cowgirl in Calgary and cried at many an airport saying farewell to my latest great adventure.
This precious and dependable document has also taken me back home when I most needed to go – to meet my gorgeous niece when she was born and to say a sad farewell to my granny.
My passport has been an integral part of growing up over the last 10 years – from bright-eyed but naïve at 24 to a bit more worldly-wise at 34. I’ve had a heck of an adventure and I’m sad to be saying goodbye to my constant companion.
So, treasure your passport and where it can take you. It could have more of an impact on your life than you’d ever expect.
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