Flash back to March – I was sitting in my university student room, six hours away from my family and stressing out about exams. All of a sudden, I get a link from my older sister to the Canada 150 youth pass page. I asked her what it was, and she responded, “a once in a lifetime opportunity”.
I started to read about the youth travel pass and couldn’t believe it was real. This was following an incredibly hard year for my family and me. My Dad had been diagnosed with cancer in 2016 (he’s okay now!), the university stress and being so far from my family was really taking a toll on me… essentially, it was hard to find a light in the dark.
Suddenly, I could see a way to get away from it all, and take a (literally) life changing trip across Canada. It just felt like one of those moments that was meant to be, you know? It was a chance to breathe again. I spent five hours battling for my pass that night, refreshing the page and patiently waiting for my internet to re-load. Luckily, my persistence payed off.
So there I was, pass confirmed, when it sunk in- I HAVE NEVER TRAVELLED ALONE BEFORE. I knew my sister had a dream to travel across Canada on the train, but she had just turned 26, and wasn’t a full time student, so she wasn’t eligible to get the Canada 150 youth pass.
I checked my university Facebook group and saw that there was someone else at my university who had gotten the pass too. His name was Barry. We started talking in the comments and I found out that he was also travelling alone.
After that, we started messaging back and forth, freaking out about how excited we were for the trip and how this would be our big event for the summer. I realized that there had to be other people across Canada who were in the same situation, you know? Who were excited as all hell, but we were also nervous about travelling alone.
I asked Barry if he would help me and be a co-admin of a Facebook group for other youth travellers. Luckily, he’s a bit of a go-getter himself and was more than happy to do it. We worked together to create the group. As soon as we started, member requests from all over Canada started pouring in. There were tons of other people who felt the same way as me. Though each of them was travelling for different reasons, with this community we no longer felt like we were travelling alone.
It really warmed my heart to see the group grow, everyone stared sharing travel tips and itineraries. We had created this great big hub of excitement!
On the first or second day, someone in the group suggested that we have some physical thing like hats or iron-on patches that we could wear on the train to identify other #viaCanada150 Youth Pass travellers. I thought this was a fantastic idea because it meant that we could bring this great online community into the world.
It just so happens that at university I’m studying Global Business and Digital Arts, which gave me the confidence to design, market and manage “patches” for the group – so off I went!
In terms of travelling this July, I’m really looking forward to seeing Canada to gather inspiration for my art. Plus, during the summer I live in Ottawa with my family, which means I’m away from my boyfriend in Toronto, and my older brother in Montreal. With this pass, I’ll get to see them too. I also just think trains are great.
All in all, I’m ecstatic about this trip, and I am looking forward to seeing pictures and reading stories from my fellow travellers. What this Facebook community has become has exceeded my dreams, and I am beyond proud to be an administrator of the group.
Make sure you check back on this blog to read the other amazing stories of my fellow travellers.
#viaCanada150 is gonna be sweet 🙂