Category Archives: #GoDo

Go Do 2016 Video – My Overseas Adventure

On my last adventure in Italy 2014, I compiled all of the video footage I had taken and created my European Adventure video.

This time around, I took the same idea, but twisted it a bit. Last time I showed you all the things I did, but this time I wanted to let you see through my eyes. The things my eyes have seen, and my feet have touched, have left me scared, brokenhearted, lost, overwhelmed, hopeful, inspired, and speechless. Most importantly, it has left me wanting more, and wanting to share what I have experienced thus far with anyone who will listen.

As I have said many times before, my initial goal with this blog, was to simply keep my family updated in my major activities while abroad. Since then, my dream behind this blog has expanded. I love to write, I love to inspire, and I love to travel. So, why not put it all together. From my keyboard in 14 different countries, I have been able to not only keep my family updated, but also share my favourite stories with friends, fellow travelers, and internet enthusiasts.

I have a love for writing. However, I also have a love for videoing, especially my feet (They are my most photographic feature). I hope this video compilation will explain to those I met along my journey, as to why I was always staring at my feet.

Clearly, my dad had the same idea (where I obviously get my home videoing joy from). Thanks to him, and a behind the scenes friend, I was actually able to capture my homecoming from 3 different perspectives. Thank you to everything for your love and support.

Walk on,

You Armstrong Abroad (at home)

Advertisements

#GoDo – Meet Jack

One night over the Christmas holidays, while all of my friends were celebrating with their families or back home for the break, I ended up at a pub by myself in some attempt to get myself out of the house. That night changed the remainder of my time in Italy. I met so many amazing people that night who, in such a short time, became a really great group of friends to me. That night I met Jack. If I had to describe Jack in two words it would be ‘bright eyed’. Jack is the most caring, open, honest, eager, and genuine young chap I have met in a long time, possibly ever. He once told me that I had inspired him more in the 6 days we knew each other, than anyone before. That’s something I’ll never forget. He was my companion for a week and I was lucky enough to be able to ring in the new year with my new friend. Ladies, he’s single, a British soldier, AND he’s coming to Canada (wink, wink). It is my please as my first #GoDo, to introduce you to Jack.

  
Introduce yourself: Hi! I’m Jack! I come from a small village in Yorkshire, England.”

Where have you all been in the world? “I’ve been to many amazing places in the world, mostly due to my work as a soldier: Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Kenya, Cyprus, Greece, Vatican city (yup technically it’s a country), Belgium, Holland, Turkey, and The US”

Why do you travel? “I want to travel Because… To me, life is all about the experiences that you have, the variety of the things that you do, and the people that you meet. 

There’s so much world out there to find! And so little life in which to do it, I just feel that travelling opens your heart, and your mind and makes you a better, more fulfilled, more interesting person.”

What’s your craziest experience while travelling that you’d be willing to share? “Craziest experience…. Mmmm. I guess work ones don’t count (driving a tank on the public roads is pretty crazy) but travel wise… Meeting a Californian girl in a Rome nightclub, and realizing that we were EXACTLY the same age, to within like, a few minutes of each other… At the time that felt pretty crazy.”

What advice or tip could you give to people wanting to travel? “My tip? Hmm.. my experience is somewhat limited so far, but it has to be this: Talk to everyone! You meet so many interesting people who, more than likely, are just like you; looking to expand their horizons. You see a girl at the bar on her own.. Just go and talk to her. You’re standing in the que for a historic building, ask the people around you where they are from. I’ve made so many random friends by just not being afraid to say ‘hi’ and break that first later of social ice that most people are afraid of stepping onto.”

“I hope my travels take me, well, everywhere! I don’t really have an aim, I like it to be unplanned and just let things happen. As long as you have the right attitude and approach, I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it”

#GoDo1

Dear Mom: A Letter to My Family 

On April 10, 2009, you drove me to the airport. I had a blank passport and a round trip ticket to Europe. I didn’t have a choice, not that I would have protested, but it was just expected that I would follow what my sister did 4 years earlier with her high school class. You paid for everything. The plane tickets, the tour costs, the insurance, and many more things I probably don’t even know about. I had 4 disposable cameras packed in my carry-on and my 2 best friends in the whole world next to me. You took pictures with your windup flash camera as we stood in front of the departure gate with Canadian flags pinned to our bags and terror and excitement in our eyes. One by one, the three of you wished me luck, health, and fun on my trip. First you, Mom, who probably said something like “be careful, have fun, and call us!” (This was before the days of smartphones, and pay phones were our only means of communication). You probably teared up as you said this, and I did too. Next, Dad, your speech might have gone like this, “have fun, be smart”. You would have added a slight nod in my direction as you said the “be smart” part, as if there was a deeper meaning that would be communicated with just a nod. There was. Lastly, Grandma would have stepped up to the plate for a big hug. I don’t know what she would have said, something ridiculous, possibly inappropriate, but I don’t remember anything other than the giant kiss that inevitably followed. It would have lasted for approximately one calendar year (realistically about 10 seconds) and included some side to side rocking. We would have made kissing noises and finished with a big “muah!” followed by a loud laugh that only comes from a Grandma. You stood at security and waved until I was past inspections and safely through the gates. You then waited at the giant window overlooking the runway until my plane had taken off and was safely out of site. I know this because I have pictures from the disposable camera. You then returned home and ultimately didn’t sleep for 12 days. Your biggest worries in the world were over once I set foot back on Saskatchewan soil.

Seven years and multiple passport stamps later, you now know that that day in the Saskatoon airport was only the beginning. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, growing up, I never wanted to leave Saskatchewan. 12 days in Europe completely changed the course of my life and this was of your making. I had mono for that entire trip and you told me you wanted to send me on the trip again the next year so that I could have a better experience, but that it wasn’t fair to Wendy who only got to go once. I understood this, but it broke my heart and for two years I dreamed of going back to have this “full” experience that everyone, who wasn’t infected with mono, had. 

Fast forward 3 years to where, again, I held a round trip ticket for 17 days in Europe. I had only a backpack and was prepared for my epic return to finally experience Europe the way it was supposed to be experienced, without mono. Again, I had my best friend by my side, but this time I was the “expert” and she was the one with terror and excitement in her eyes. I had paid for my own trip this time around. During the previous summer, I had worked 4 part time jobs, most of which I detested. On many occasions, I wanted to quit, but you both encouraged me to push through it and reminded me that I was an Armstrong and could make the most of any situation. I stuck it out for a whole summer and banked enough money to fund my journey. I ditched the disposable cameras, because I was fancy now, and took my digital with me. Upon arriving home, you all sat down with me and I got to share my pictures and my stories with you. Never having travelled overseas before, you told me that you couldn’t believe places like these existed. The Sagrada Familia, the Firenze Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Colosseum. I tried explaining that it was even more amazing in person and that pictures would never do justice to the real thing, but it was a lost cause as you would never leave home; you didn’t even have a passport.  

 Two years down the road and we stood at the airport again. This time, I was the only one holding a ticket and a fresh passport. My “goodbye entourage” had grown to include my university roommates, and my previous travel companion and her mom, but you remained the same. Before leaving home, Grandma said to me that if she couldn’t hold me in her arms, at least I could hold her in my hands. She gave me a picture of herself to take with me. She always traveled with me. She probably gave me some wildly inappropriate advice, but all I remember is the kiss that lasted a few decades, swaying back and forth, ending with a loud “muah!” and a hearty chuckle. At the airport we engaged in small talk to ease my nerves, but when the time came to say our goodbyes, we all teared up. It was going to be a long time apart this time. Mom, you would have said goodbye first, telling me to have fun, be safe, and make sure to text when I got there (we upgraded from pay phones). Dad you would have followed by telling me to have fun, and be smart, with an Alistair nod. Wendy ended the line with a hug and a promise to see me soon. You stood outside security, waving until we couldn’t see each other anymore. Staring out the large window at the runways, you watched my plane take off and safely fly into the distance. As if, in some way, if it were to fall from the sky you would at least be there to watch it happen. 

 After years of you supporting me, I was so excited to finally support you as you got your first passport and you and Wendy purchased flights to come visit me. It was one of the best experiences of all of our lives and we have the pictures to prove it. When we returned home, we were flipping through our photo album of travel pictures, showing your friends over a coffee break, and you said something that I’ll never forget. As the ladies were commenting on the beautiful pictures, you told them, in your recently acquired “I’m such a world traveler” voice, that pictures will never do justice to the beauty of the real things. You had directly quoted me from two years earlier and this was the most obvious sign that you had also caught the most dangerous disease: the travel bug.  

 A few months after returning from my study abroad, I felt as though my world was ending. My life took so many twists and turns that I had never anticipated and I threatened running away back to the other side of the world where “all was good”. All it took was one text from Dad. You said now was not the right time. That’s all I needed, as over the years I had learned that only one person could give advice that, despite my greatest doubts, was spot on 100% of the time. You were right, again, and you all supported me through the difficult times and celebrated with me as I began to smile again. To travel angry is not travelling, it’s only running. Somehow, at the time, you knew this better than I did. 

On October 18, 2015 we stood back at the Saskatoon security gates where it all began 7 years earlier. Before leaving home, Grandma made her inappropriate comment about bringing home a Japanese baby before she planted one of her famous smooches on me. Light years passed, and she ended it with a “muah!” and a delightful little cackle that I can still hear. At the airport, Dad had accompanied me to the check in desk, as he always does. He seemed to be the most ridiculous person to be there with me, as he had never flown before, but at the same time I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else. Keeping the “I am Alistair and I am the calmest person in this airport” vibe going strong. We small talked over cups of Tim Horton’s until the time came. We snapped a few pictures, all of us red eyed, but smiling. You’d think by now, we would all be used to these moments, but it was never more difficult than that morning. Dad, you were first this time. We hugged and you reminded me that you were proud of me, told me to have some fun, and to be smart *cue nod*. I nodded back in agreement, as if to say “I promise no midnight phone calls from the Italian police”. Mom you were last, and we sobbed and laughed at the same time as we do. You told me to have fun, be safe, and you would see me soon. I sobbed my way through security, alongside the business men and families. You waited at security, waving until we could no longer see each other. Yet again, you stood at the giant window as my plane pulled away from the gate and took flight.  

 Three months later, mom, you world traveller you, arrived in Florence. Not only had you navigated the airports along the way without Wendy’s help this time, but you had also committed to seeing new countries (countries you didn’t even know were countries until I asked if you wanted to go). You officially had the “fill up the passport” mentality. On our final day in Florence, while sitting at a large table of my friends, you started to cry listening to this group of 9 young women talk about their traveling lives. You said it was because you were so happy to see me here with these people all doing what we love. On our way out that night you hugged me and said “You might not know it yet, but I know you’ll be back”.  

 You returned home, and I continued on my journey. Now here we are, 6 months into my travels. This is the longest I have ever been away from home and away from you all. Yesterday, I told you about my decision to extend things, delaying my return for another 8 months. After many sleepless nights, thinking of how I could possibly tell you this, your reaction was nothing short of supportive, yet again. You told me that although you were saddened by this, that it was not entirely a surprise. 

I have met hundreds of people over the course of my travels. Many of them have told me how easy it was to leave home and travel because they had nothing at home. I have experienced the entirely opposite. I have the most supportive family in the world waiting for me at home, and that is what makes it easy for me to travel. Knowing you are at home, waiting with open arms, means I have a reason to go home and a reason to keep travelling instead of running. 

 This was never how I intended to live my life and this was never how I intended to spend my money, but this happened because of you. You supported me financially as a small town high school student, emotionally as a rebelling university student off to experience the world, academically while pursuing my studies around the world, and now professionally and lovingly as the adult I have become. That adult being obsessed with the thought of experiencing life from as many different perspectives as possible. The best decision you ever made, was signing me up to get on that plane in 2009.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, or for my passport, but I know that you’ll be right there with me, staring out that giant airport window as I depart to God-only-knows-where and standing right there when I return again. 

  

#GoDo – Who do you want to be?

When I graduated high school I honestly had a dream of never leaving Saskatchewan (that’s a Province in Canada by the way for all my foreign friends). I always wanted to learn about other cultures and languages, but I wanted to do it in the safety and comfort of my own country. When I moved away to go to university I met a very dear friend who changed everything for me. On a wintery afternoon, as we were having the “what am I doing with my life” conversation, she said, lets go to Europe together. I said yes. I think we were both secretly waiting for the other to backdown because it was so random and spur of the moment, but neither of us did and before we could tell our parents, we had purchased our plane tickets. I’ve never looked back.

So now I’ve had opportunities that 6 years ago I would have never imagined were possible. But, I’m tired of just travelling, seeing things, meeting people, and not giving back at all. I believe travelling is one of the best things you can do to better yourself and reach a greater understanding of the world and why it is the way it is. So I’ve been sharing my story here for you all to read, but what about everyone else… I want to inspire people to get up and go. Say yes to travelling, yes to climbing that ridiculously huge volcano, yes to getting on that train with the group of French guys you only met yesterday, yes to sleeping in a room with 20 people to save a few dollars, yes to showing up in a country you know nothing about, yes to making uncountable mistakes along the way. So I came up with #GoDo. 

As I meet people from around the world, I’m going to interview them and post it here. I’m not special or unique in the fact that wandering the world is the life I am choosing. There are so many people who feel the same as me and I want to be able to share their stories.

Where are you from? Why do you travel? Introduce yourself to the world.

So, I’ll go first.
 

 
My name is Jody Armstrong, I’m 23 and I am from Saskatchewan, Canada. I started travelling when I was 16, but didn’t become addicted until I was 19. I’ve been to France, Spain, U.S., Mexico, Greece, Germany(barely), Italy and soon I’ll be heading to Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Japan, and Thailand. I travel because I want to understand the world. My dream is to work with immigrants and refugees in Canada and to best assist them I need to have seen more than my own country. I also travel to better myself. Travelling has taught me to enjoy the little things, to let go of the little things, to rely only on myself, to love myself, and to allow myself to be free. While travelling I’ve experienced the most fear, anxiety, loneliness, and anger towards the world that I’ve ever felt, however it’s also made me feel the highest levels of joy, pleasure, and freedom that I’ve ever experienced. One of my craziest experiences: A) Sleeping alone in an airport in Madrid to, spur of the moment, catch the next plane to an island I had never heard of to meet up with two crazy Canadians I had met the day before to learn how to surf, which I successfully did. B) when I somehow skipped going through customs when re-entering to Canada from Greece after 4 months abroad and convincing airport security that my check bag was actually carry-on approved… Doesn’t sound too crazy, but ask me for the full version and you’ll realize it was the most ridiculous thing ever. Craziest person I’ve met: I met a girl from Korea who was travelling on her own, with about $400, she had had her phone and all communication devices stolen and was completely unable to contact home, but she was still travelling. And not to the typical locations. When I met her she was on her way to Egypt, Morocco, and some African countries. ALONE! With NO communication and basically no money…. And she was the friendliest, happiest, bubbliest person. She even invited me to Korea. 

So, #GoDo. Buy your tickets, climb that mountain you have a picture of on your bedroom wall, stop procrastinating. What do you want to tell your grandkids when they ask you about your life? Do you want to tell them you had a good job, made lots of money, and lived a secure content life? Or, do you want to be able to tell them about the one time you went swimming in the ocean in your underwear at 4am, got a tattoo with someone you just met, sang spice girls karaoke in a basement club with no one else who spoke English, and convinced your mother to illegally train hop with you?

The decision is yours. #GoDo