Travelling through time: exploring similarities of grandmother’s travel journal and my own
My grandmother always encouraged me to travel and see the world. I remember sitting up late and listening to her extraordinary tales of sea voyages, presentations to queens, and passes from exotic hopefuls. I was in awe of her confidence, independence and curiosity in the ways of the world. I told her I would travel, just as she had. I booked my ticket just before she had the stroke.
I had just graduated from university and I came home to work and save for six months. My grandmother, Nan, as I called her, was so happy to know I would be heading off to live in London and from there explore the world. After she had the stroke, I visited her every day in hospital and quizzed her about everything and anything: her favourite book; her favourite memory; her best piece of advice. And, of course, I spoke to her about my upcoming travels. She passed away just two months before I left Australia.
Before she died, Nan gave me a “going away gift”. It was a token of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travel safety. Nan carried it with her during her travels in 1952, and on every trip she’d been on since. I treasured it. Saint Christopher travelled with me everywhere while I was overseas. I spent spent 18 months living and travelling overseas with my boyfriend and now-husband. It wasn’t until then that I realised how incredible it was for my Nan to travel solo as a female in 1952. But the best discovery was yet to come.
About a year after I returned to Australia, I discovered my Nan’s travel journal. It was uncannily similar to my own. I couldn’t wait to read it. Now that I have, I want so badly to retrace her steps. I want to see things the way she saw them, and see them from my own perspective too. I may have been to some of the same places, but there are many other places I am yet to see. She mentions family a lot in her journal, so I must still have family over there too. Perhaps after this, I’ll go back to the places she’s been.
And so, my time travel project begins. I will recount both our overseas travel journeys. It will be interesting to see how times and things have changed, but also how my Nan and I experience people, places and things with little more than 50 years and a few genes separating us. This is one trip I’m looking forward to more than any other. Never has “it’s not the destination but the journey” been more true than now.