Fun on the road: The play-filled moments that make us feel alive

Dogsledding - an experience of a lifetime
Shutterstock: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 151371983
Published Jan 20, 2020

By Amanda Burgess, Editor, Journeywoman

How often do we make time to play and have fun in our day-to-day lives? It's all too easy to get mired in the slog of daily routine and adult responsibility. Travel breaks that routine. Whether you're traveling solo or with others, there are those moments while traveling where you become fully, viscerally aware of how much fun you're having. It's exhilarating. It transports you back in time to your youth, where fun and play were the focal point of your existence. It's in these moments where you realize that you're not only feeding your adult self with a heaping serving of fun, but your inner child as well.

We asked you, our fellow Journeywomen, how you've embraced child-like wonder, curiosity and awe while traveling. Your stories made us smile, laugh, and feel brilliantly alive. That's the magical thing about fun and play - when you share it, others feel what you feel.

Some of you find your fun in the company of creatures who understand its importance - animals.

Like Marilyn T., who had an elephant encounter of the touching variety while on safari in Chobe National Park in 2004. It was her first solo trip. She was intrigued by Africa - loved the movies, historical novels and nature programs that focused on it. "An elephant in full musth walked up to the van and raised his trunk. I could see his nostrils flaring with each breath as he sniffed the air, moving closer to me. While barely breathing, my heart was pounding. I made eye contact with him. He had beautiful dark brown eyes, surrounded by long eyelashes," she recounts. "He sniffed a few more times, then slowly backed away. It quite literally took my breath away. I started to breathe again, and experienced an adrenaline rush like rarely before. Such a thrilling and intimate moment!"

The best thing about the experience for Marilyn was the sense of connection she felt to an intelligent beast. "He could have tipped the van and trampled us all. He could have grabbed my arm and pulled me out the window. He didn't. He was curious, and I was blessed with this experience," she says. "I think all Canadians feel an affinity to wildlife. It starts young. We have been an outdoor family all our lives. I've seen moose, bears, wolves, and even a cougar in the wild. Living on the coast, I've seen orcas, humpbacks, and grey whales many times. Never this close up."

Marilyn T and her elephant
The intent look an elephant gives Marilyn T. before reaching into the window of her safari van to give her a playful sniff.

Aurelia I. felt like she was coming out of her shell when she interacted with some gentle giants in Seychelles: "I felt like I was a kid again around these giant tortoises," she says. "They even like having their chins scratched. Who knew?!"

Aurelia and giant tortoises in the Seychelles
Aurelia T. feeding some giant tortoises AND her inner child in Seychelles.

Since 2008, Dee K. has gone dogsledding in Alaska (Juneau), Finland (Helsinki), and twice in Manitoba (Churchill). The dogs are a big part of the fun and thrill for her. "It is rather exhilarating to fly past trees, buildings, and glide across the frozen ground," she says. "The dogs are also excited to be running and they are having such a fun time, it's catching to the passengers. The dogs will often glance back at you and the driver, as if they want to see your excitement. Each time I've done the trip, I laugh a lot because I feel so joyous at being able to do it again. When we have to stop, it's sort of sad, but then you get to visit with the dogs and share your experience with other people, which helps keep the excitement and joy around you longer."

For some of you, it's all in the adrenaline-pumping thrill of an extreme adventure.

Marion B. went skydiving in New Brunswick with two of her late husband's military friends - Andy and Joe - to challenge herself and bring her husband's memory a little closer. “Both men were supportive, encouraging, brave and crazy like me to take a trip to skydive for the first time. I flew to Fredericton to visit with Andy and his family for two weeks. During that time, we took a one-day road trip to Moncton, where the skydiving school was. We were given a two-hour class and suited up," she recalls.

Before the jump, she was nervous and a little scared. But as she was freefalling, she looked up to the sky and clouds, and her only thought to break through the rush of adrenaline was that her husband was watching over her. “When we were coming down, I felt exhilarated but also thought this was the dumbest thing I had ever done. Similar to defying my parents by doing something scary without permission when I was young and foolish - only now I was 60 and still foolish," she says. “Through the experience, I learned that sometimes you just have to do what others would challenge you about - and that I missed my husband so much and would do anything to be closer to him."

Marion B free falls in New Brunswick
Marion B's tandem freefall jump in New Brunswick.

Fun is travelling with friends...

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