Many travel bloggers/writers claim that their love of travel springs from childhood. Books, souvenirs, or other objects sparked something within them that, years later, finds expression or fulfillment on the road (see examples here, here, and here). I can trace my desire to see the world and the love of travel to a handful of childhood artifacts.

Childhood inspiration for travel #1: Jules Verne’s novels

Childhood inspiration for travel

The five Jules Verne volumes I and my sister own. From left, The Golden Volcano, Adventures of Captain Hatteras, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Mistress Branican, and North Against South.

As a boy, I devoured books by Jules Verne. I particularly remember Five Weeks in a BalloonAround the World in 80 Days, The Children of Captain Grant (aka In Search of the Castaways), Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon, Two Years’ Vacation, and The Lighthouse at the End of the World. Over the years, perhaps from ages 7 to 12, they opened new horizons for me and showed me there is a world out there, ready to be explored and full of adventure.

Childhood inspiration for travel

A peek inside the 1985 edition of The Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Childhood inspiration for travel #2: The Pocket Atlas of the World

The 7th edition of the Pocket Atlas of the World, published in 1984 by Slovenská kartografia, succumbed to my thumbing fairly quickly. I kept it together with copious amounts of transparent tape and learned to handle it with care.

Childhood inspiration for travel

7th Edition of the Pocket Atlas of the World. This is a used copy I just bought online to replace my original that disappeared during the many remodels at my parents’ apartment.

In 1986 when Corazon Aquino became president of the Philippines, I crossed out Ferdinand Marcos’s name on page 104 and wrote hers in. Soon I realized I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the changes happening in the world and that there isn’t any room amid the tiny, dense print for too many updates anyway. When borders in Central and Eastern Europe started to change after 1990, the level of Pocket Atlas’s outdatedness reached hopeless. The large-format atlas that replaced it never captured my imagination the way the Pocket Atlas had.

Childhood inspiration for travel

Central Europe of my childhood: Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic, Soviet Union… Yugoslavia peeks from the bottom edge.

Childhood inspiration for travel #3: Evening Television Newscasts

After Czechoslovakia’s 1985 gold medal at the ice hockey IIHF World Championships, at which point I realized there is a real, big world out there, I started watching the evening Television Newscasts on Czechoslovak Television’s first (of two) channel. Domestic news bored me most of the time since they were full of reports from this Party meeting or another, this agricultural or industrial succes or another; news from abroad fascinated me. I even professed my wish to someday be president because all he does is travel and shake hands.

This Television Newscast from November 20, 1989, shows extensive coverage of the “tense political situation” as what later became known as the Velvet Revolution began to unfold.

More childhood inspiration for travel

Sleuthing through memories while I was writing this post brought up more sources of inspiration for travel:

  • Trips with parents to the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, and, most frequently, Hungary as well as around Slovakia.
  • Train rides mostly to Babka’s in Spišská Nová Ves, but anywhere really.
  • The aforementioned gold medal Czechoslovakia won in the 1985 Ice Hockey World Championship.

What inspires you to travel?

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