How My Past Has Shaped My Love for Travel

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I have thought long and hard about even writing this article, going back and forth on if I am ready to put this out and share this with our readers. A lot of you who follow us know we LOVE to travel, but that wasn’t always the case for me. I have always had a strong love for travel but the act of getting on a plane was terrifying.

Someone asked me recently “How did you get into travel”? My response was pretty simple “I bought a plane ticket.” Throughout this conversation, this person proceeded to tell me about what a hard life they had and travel wasn’t an option for them. There were just too many setbacks that prevented them from traveling. Each one of you reading this article has probably had something in your life that you wish you could change that was entirely out of your control. I don’t believe that is considered a ‘setback’. Instead, you steer your own life in the direction that is right for you.

I want to share a very personal reflection on my past and how I believe this changed not only how I perceive life but also how I have a much greater appreciation for everything that I learn and experience while traveling the world.

The Day That Changed It All

I believe I was a happy go lucky kid, and of course utterly fascinated with New Kids on the Block (no judgment, I still love boy bands!).

One day all of that changed. On March 24th, 1998, my classmates and I exited what we considered our safe haven because of a fire alarm, only to enter into rounds of gunfire. Not only did we lose our friends and our teacher, we lost our innocence.

White Awareness Ribbon

I was only 11 years old and I was trying to figure out what happened, why it happened, and what I should do. To this day, my inner child has no idea how to answer those questions. Our childhood was cut short, we grew up very quickly and relied on each other for support.

A Fear of Flying

The idea of traveling to see something new, to run away from my problems sounded so good, I really believed that was my answer. However, there was one small problem associated with this. Everywhere I wanted to go required a flight to get there and I had a real fear of flying!

Boeing Airplane

There was just too many risks associated with that method of transportation, at least, that is what I thought. The fear of the unknown outweighed my excitement for new possibilities.

As my life moved along, I continued to dwell on trying to answer all those questions that remained in my mind since 6th grade. As hard as I tried, nothing was working. Something had to change.

Eventually, while discussing a completely unrelated topic, I received the following advice!

Take emotion out of it, you do that on your own time

I immediately started applying this to everything. Let’s be honest, it was horrible advice! But at the time, it was something I needed. I blocked everything out, did my own thing and only allowed emotions to show when I was alone.

love for travel

Throughout recent years, Chris and I have shared stories that molded us to where we are today. Things tend to have a way of working out for the right reasons and by following my heart and putting fear aside, I slowly began to conquer what had been beating me up for over 10 years.

Growing My Love for Travel

Over the last 5 years, I have had the opportunity to explore places like London, Iceland, Budapest and even Bratislava. Locations around the world that I could never have dreamed of experiencing. Even places like New York City seemed like a million miles away but now I believe anything is possible. Traveling the world and interacting with others made me realize that I wasn’t the only one with that inherent fear.

The Shoes on the Danube Bank, is a memorial in Budapest, Hungary.

We all have to deal with our inner-self and face challenges and fears on a daily basis. Fear of never doing anything is preparing you for failure. I put everything I had previously been fearful of aside and trusted in myself and took on the world with the best partner imaginable.

love for travel

Travel isn’t about expressing yourself, it’s about learning the culture, learning how to deal with different pressures in a world that rapidly changes. This year will be 18 years since our school shooting and although the pain never goes away, my fear has diminished.

I couldn’t do anything to change the events that happened that day, nor can I change anything else that is out of my control. However, I can change my impression on this planet and to shed light on certain areas of the world that you might never visit.

UFO Bridge & Tower in Bratislava

Places like Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, are depicted negatively through the media (for those of you that have seen Eurotrip and Hostel, you will know what I am referring to), but having visited here I soon realize that this is far from the truth.


I have been incredibly lucky to see everything that I have experienced so far in my life – the good, the bad, and the ugly!

I didn’t get into travel…‘travel’ and the different cultures took ahold of me.

One thing I do know from my travel experiences is that the world is a beautiful place to find your inner peace. I have finally found mine, and I hope our travel experiences help inspire you to find yours.

To all of you out there who fight battles every day, you are doing great!

How do you deal with your fears or personal emotions? Does ‘travel’ have a positive impact on your life?

Weekend Wanderlust

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Heather Boothman
Heather Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born and in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Heather has always been a fond traveler but was only able to start fulfilling her dreams of traveling the world when she met her husband, Chris in 2008. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Heather at [email protected]


  1. Wow. What an experience to have at such an early age. Travel has helped me too but with a different event– losing both my parents by the time I was 10. Glad you found your love for traveling, and assuming your way to New York City– my hometown!

  2. This is such a moving post and something you’re so brave to write about. I’m pleased travel has helped you to move on and find the good in the world. It’s really inspiring.
    I have a fear of the unknown, and travel forces me to face it every day. I’ll always come across something new when I’m in a different country, whether it’s people, places, foods… Nothing beats travel in my opinion!

  3. That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear. And I don’t really know what to say. It’s shocking and senseless.
    On a different note, I’ve a terrible fear of flying. My love of travel is still greater than my fear. So I suck it up, have an unpleasant 10-24 hours and then get on with it…small price to pay. No doubt check in and airports will be part of that experience now too….What a stupid world we live in.
    Travel fed my love of travel. One interesting place makes me want to see another….

  4. I well remember that day, Heather. I’m glad you were able to move forward after the unimaginable horror that no one should ever have experienced, let alone children at school!

  5. What a horrific thing to experience at such a young age. Sadly, people are experiencing these kinds of things more and more frequently. 🙁 Many of us have had bad things happen to us and traumatic, life-changing events…. hopefully, these awful events make us stronger and shape us to the people we are today, give us a new appreciation for life, and allow us to make the most of it. I’m glad that you took those chances and went on those airplanes and got to share these wonderful times with Chris.

  6. I’m very sorry that you had to go through such an experience – and at such a young age. But I’m glad that you have found an inner peace through travel. And that you have found your perfect travel partner.

  7. Heather I am so sorry you had to go through that experience but glad you have overcome your fear of flying and found your inner peace. Now you can truly enjoy travel and give us enjoyment as you write about your travels.

  8. What a horrible experience to have as a child (and something that too many children have faced and continue to face) but I’m glad travel has helped you to move forward with your life – even with your fear of flying! Here’s something I hope will make you smile next time you get on a plane and it is that more people are killed by vending machines than by flying! Planes are safe – its those crazy vending machines you need to watch out for 😉 #weekendwanderlust

  9. You are very brave writing this. No one really knows what others go through. Having a laugh at the comment above mine, watch out for vending machines .. you have done so well, and this is definitely inspiration for others.

  10. It is not easy to put yourself out there by writing such personal stuff. But, I am glad you did since we all can learn from it. I am afraid of flying, I am afraid of heights and I am afraid of many other things. I recognize I am not the bravest person in the world but I like to travel and, one way or another, I find a way to deal with my fears. Sometimes it is not the easiest things to do but I prefer to fix my mind on the positive side of things.

  11. This is such a raw and honest post. Sorry to hear of your difficult times, you really have grasped opportunities and are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing what must of been a difficult post, and here’s to many happy travels in the future!

  12. That’s very inspiring how a tragedy didn’t stop you but pushed you forward. I guess every one of us, travellers, those really deoted to explore the world had to overcome a tragic event. And it’s not escaping like some might say. It’s realising how precious and fragile a life can be and to take advantage of every second of it

  13. Many of us are addicted to travel from place to place and I am one among them. I like to find out new places and enjoy there a lot. This is such a perfect travel related blog that do have many nice things to learn and thanks for sharing these articles.

  14. This is such a moving post and something you’re so brave to write about. I’m pleased travel has helped you to move on and find the good in the world. It’s really inspiring.
    I have a fear of the unknown, and travel forces me to face it every day. I’ll always come across something new when I’m in a different country, whether it’s people, places, foods… Nothing beats travel in my opinion!


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