I always enjoy hearing stories from people about their favorite travel memories. I’ve heard so many great stories from fellow travelers, readers of my blog as well as close friends and family. I’ve had an especially heavy business travel schedule the first half of 2013. The older I get the less enjoyable those trips tend to be, especially because they mean time away from my family. A little bit of travel fatigue lead me to think about that next dream vacation I want to take, which lead me further to remember great trips of the past. It seems lik a good time to write down those thoughts about why I love travel.
I remember enjoying travel at a very young age. There was an early memory flying from Newark to Florida to board a cruise ship for a family vacation. We were connecting in Atlanta and our flight was delayed on our way out of Newark due to mechanical reasons. I’m pretty sure at least part of our trip was on Eastern Airlines, but my dad’s memory is a bit foggier. He thought the carrier out of Newark had an odd name (and certainly isn’t still in business today). When we got off the first plane, we ran to our gate (though according to my father my mother decided to walk).
At the gate we found out our next flight was oversold and because we were one of the last to arrive at the gate we were on standby. I remember my mother doing a lot of screaming at my father and a gate agent. The gate agent told my mother to cool it and my father tried to smooth things over at the desk. Apparently, something my father said struck a chord with the agent. He apologized for the delay in Newark and gave us 4 free tickets for future travel. Then, he had an airline employee lead us through an unmarked door and down onto the tarmac. Next thing I knew we were in a station wagon driving across the tarmac (who remembers what a station wagon was?) and rushed up onto another plane. They closed the door behind us and we were told to find any available seat. The four of us were sitting in separate places (somehow, my mom’s complaining ended her up in first class). My sister and I ended up sitting beside each other in coach and my dad was further back in the place. It was the first time I ever flew without a parent sitting beside me.
Though a crazy day of travel, I remember being enthralled with the entire process. Everything fascinated me. And, most things about airline travel still do. I’m guessing I was probably 7 or 8 years old when we took this trip.
Fast forward 3 decades and I’m now the proud father of two children, Catherine (7 years old) and Charlie (2). Though Charlie isn’t old enough yet to have memories of travel, Catherine has plenty. That’s why my reasons for loving travel have changed over the last few years.
When my wife and I started dating I was determined to explore the world. 3-day trip to Barcelona? Sure. Italy for a week. Sign me up. Napa Valley, Halifax, Vancouver, Seattle, London. It’s a long list. As we got closer to the point where my wife essentially mandated we have kids (smart decision on her part, I was too chicken), I dreaded that travel would change for me. Instead of exploring the world whenever I wanted, exploring new places, I’d be “stuck” doing family vacations. Packing a ton of stuff to head to someplace I’d probably already been, actually checking luggage, I felt like my life of travel was changing forever, completely out of my control.
It was, but it turned out not to be a bad thing. Sure, that first trip to Canada with our less than 1-year old daughter was rough. She kept exploding out of her diapers the entire 90-minute flight. The flight attendant took pity on both my wife and I even though she was kinda disgusted by the whole thing. And I was pushing an enormous luggage cart through the airport to the ticket counter to check a bunch of bags.
But shortly after we landed in Halifax our daughter fell in love with my Aunt Emily. And Emily fell in love with her. Between then and now there’s been trips overseas, like when our daughter played with a girl in Naples at a little amusement park. Neither one of them spoke the other’s language but they figured out a way to communicate just the same.
We took her places my wife and I had been before, seeing things in a whole new light through her eyes. She was enthralled with the princesses at Disney, and we were enthralled watching her wonderment. There were old memories at Hershey, and most recently a trip to San Francisco to show her all the things we love about that city. And, of course, on the return trip there were sleeper seats and ice cream.
And, then, there was Panama. 7 years after the birth of our daughter, we were exploring a country none of us had been to before. And, our daughter is old enough to share those memories with us.
It’s been a slow transformation. We started off sharing things with our daughter that we enjoyed as children. Now, we’re making new adventures together. We’ll do it with Charlie soon enough, too. I hope you’ll enjoy the stories along the way.
We’ve started a new game with our daughter. When I left town recently I asked her to come up with 3 countries she wanted to travel to and tell me what they were when I returned from my business trip. It’s only been about 2 weeks, but her list has changed half a dozen times. And, why shouldn’t it? She’s 7, and she wants to explore the world.
I couldn’t be happier.