Ever since I was a small girl, I had always traveled. Of course as a child it was not by choice but by destiny. I just so happened to have two young parents who loved to see the world and had eloped during the tender age of 23 and 25 to Europe to get married in the sixties.
Given my father’s love of travel, we traveled often throughout my childhood, spending our family vacations with the five of us (and sometimes our Red Irish Setter) squeezed into our diesel wood-paneled station wagon driving from Minnesota to such faraway places as Florida, Montana, Wyoming, California and not to mention our annual trips to Harlingen, Texas to visit our grandparents. These Texas trips often brought us in the family station wagon wandering into Mexico to several unusual spots where the Mexican children had never set eyes on a blond-hair, blue-eyed child. It was a strange experience for a six-year-old girl! The stark poverty of these towns built alongside the road, lined with shacks for homes, had a big impact on me and I’ll never forget it even thirty years later today.
So why do I travel? I’ve been asked by many. The answer quite simply is: For many reasons. It is in my blood. I’ve always traveled. I love to travel. I love to see the world. Plus I love to continually be challenged, mystified, bewitched, amazed and educated. Seeing the world is like having one big classroom right before your eyes and not only is it fun, it changes you. Each place I go, I learn something new either about the place, the culture, people or myself. It has especially become important to me as a stay-at-home mom as it is a way to maintain my identity.
Picture of my dad and I on top of the world at the highest point along the Annapurna Trek in Nepal in November 2010.
Over the years, after I went away to college in Wisconsin, moved to Chicago, got married and relocated to Minneapolis, another special joy to traveling has arrived: Family trips with either one or all of my family. I have gone on ski weekends to Utah and Colorado with my dad and brother, family get-togethers at my parents home in Tucson, drives to Mexico just the five of us, ski trips to Europe, and most recently, once a year trips with just me and my dad.
These family trips have been the highlight of my life and I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been able to continue to travel with my family into my adulthood. We are a very close-knit family and I believe a lot of it has to do with all the time we have spent together on the road. Traveling together forces you to share a one-bedroom hotel room, sit inside the car together for hours and get to truly know each other’s inner soul. Our family has so many shared memories of the experiences we’ve had along the way.
Now as a mother of two, I dearly hope to instill the same love and passion for traveling on my young children. They are used to their mom leaving once or twice a year on trips around the globe to places they have never heard of like Nepal, Argentina and Morocco. I have used these trips as opportunities to expand their horizons and teach them a little about the world. Furthermore it gives them special one-on-one time with my mother and husband, who watch them.
My children do travel frequently, however, most of our trips involve visiting family in Arizona, Virginia and Chicago. They haven’t been on any major trips….yet. But someday they will. I hope to bring them alongside me as I volunteer abroad or wonder in search of castles in Europe. I dream to make them citizens of the world who will give back and no more than their own backyard. I can hardly wait for the adventure to begin!
Photo of my son and daughter on a recent trip to Northern Minnesota.
A lifetime in Travel:
A slice of 1970s Americana: Family trip to the North Shore, Lake Superior circa 1975
Loading up the good old family-mobile, our wood-paneled station wagon, for one of our many road trips:
Our first trip to Brainerd, the Chain of Lakes, circa 1975—photo of me as a four-year-old child ready to explore the world:
In the early days, most of our trips were done by car and then as we got older, we started to fly to our grandparents house in Harlingen, Texas each Christmas instead of drive. I’m sure a big part of it was the fact that my mom freaked us all out when she nearly crashed the car into the side of an overpass (not her fault as she hit a patch of black ice that was invisible, especially at two in the morning).
Although flying for a family of five was darn right expensive in the 80s, my parents chose it as our one luxury a year. Fortunate for us, the 80s were an era of mass over booking of flights which lead to lucrative and tempting opportunities to get “bumped” off the flight for a reward. One year, to our chagrin, our family of five got bumped consecutively for over 24 hours of American Airlines flights and spent the night in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Of course, all we did was fight non-stop yet every time the check-in agent asked for volunteers to be bumped, my parents raised their hands and literally jumped out of the seats at the chance. For each bump earned us $200-300 in airline vouchers per ticket, meaning a family of five could get an awful lot of money in free travel vouchers.
That year in 1984, we earned enough travel vouchers in bumps to bring the entire family to Europe the following summer. Thus, we took our first family trip to Europe, spending three full weeks hitting the major highlights such as Paris, the French Riviera, Rome, Venice and of course, Chamonix where my dad realized his love for my mom. I was at the impressionable age of 13, taking my first class of French, and becoming more and more interested in the world around me. At first sight, I was mesmerized. Paris blew me away. I made my decision right then and there, looking down the magnificent Champs-Élysées, that I would someday live in Paris and spend a semester studying abroad.
Meanwhile, our family trips continued throughout Spring, Summer and Christmas to different places around the US and even the Cayman Islands, Hawaii and St. Croix.
Eight years after my first trip to Europe, I spent a semester abroad in Paris during my junior year of college, worked as a fille au pair (aka nanny) for a French family in the small village of Les Angers, and spent the summer after graduating college in Marseille, France doing an internship. From that point on, I was obviously hooked and the travel bug grew and grew every year.
In the Summer of 1995, I packed my bags and moved to Chicago to be closer to my boyfriend (now husband) who I also got hooked into traveling. We worked hard, saved every penny and did trips each year to France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and finally Greece for our honeymoon. He had never been abroad until he met me.
Although I was together with my husband, that did not stop me from traveling and spending time together with my family either at their homes or on vacation.
Once I got married in the summer of 2000, my Dad and I began taking trips around the world together, something we’ve always wanted to do.
We went on our first trek together to Machu Picchu in Peru in November 2001.
Our next trip together was to Australia after I was laid off from my job in January 2004 (unfortunately we have no photos together! My dad can be so stubborn):
In the Fall of 2004, I had my first child and stayed home for awhile. Yet a year later, on his first birthday my mom came to babysit him and off I went with my dad to South Africa (something I never thought I’d be able to do after surviving severe postpartum depression).
A trip together to South Africa in November 2005:
(A break was taken for the birth of my daughter in 2006—-wasn’t ready to leave a newborn!)
Here is a picture of my Dad and I on a trip to Iceland in 2008:
Here is a picture of my Dad and I on a trip again to Argentina, this time further south in 2009:
Looking over these photos remind me of why I am the way I am and how I’ve become me. The thirdeyemom. I look forward to my next trip, Dad. See you in China!
Stay Posted…I will get back to Chile on the next post. I was writing this post for my other blog, The Diary of a Happy Mom, and felt it needed to be published on thirdeyemom as well since it tells you why I do what I do!