A Lifetime of Trips


Popped into the pet food store to get our dog his poochy preference and pushed my cart up to the counter. The young cashier scanned the bag and asked, “How are you today?”

I responded pleasantly, “I’m good.  How are you?”  He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Eh, just another saturday.”   The mom in me wanted to inquire, but the elderly man waiting in line behind me had personal space issues, and his impatience was palpable.  I thought about the sadness of that young man, all the way to my next stop.

Unlike the former cashier enshrouded in an aura of defeat, this new guy was talking in an uplifting tone, with from what I gathered, a former employee and friend next to him, “You happy at your job?”

The kid hanging out must have been in his early twenties, and was clearly antsy because he couldn’t stand still, “Nah, think I’m gonna quit and fly down to south america.  I wanna travel.  Have lots of family in Peru, Argentina…”  “Brazil?”  “No, not in Brazil, but I wanna go there too.”  “Ah dude, visit that little island off of Brazil!  Dude, its famously beautiful!  You gotta go there!”

Believe it or not, I wasn’t eavesdropping.  Strangers talk TO  me all the time, and AROUND me too.  My daughter says I put people at ease.  Maybe its ease-dropping?  🙂

Either way, I was caught by two young men, similar in age and economic status, with two very different outlooks on their day:

one seemingly had succumbed to his lot in life.  There was no evidence he felt he had any control over his saturdays and really had no umph to change his situation.  The other?  He wasn’t happy and he wanted to do something about it; he wanted to go and see the world so much so, he could not physically stand still.

The only similarity I saw in their approaches:  they were both likely to end up getting exactly what each believed they thought they should.


Here’s the thing about travel: it’s not for everyone.

My son has been to more vacation destinations, on this planet of our’s, than most senior citizens.  He digs seeing new places (and he is the one person in this family that will purposely set time aside to pull out all the travel scrapbooks and relive our fun adventures over and over) but getting there is a drag for him.

Especially, after nine-eleven.

He dreads the long line through the TSA gate, and taking off his shoes and his belt, and emptying out his pockets, and taking out his laptop, and holding onto his ticket, and don’t even tell him you need to pat him down!  Then there is the waiting:  for the plane to arrive and to board, and being packed in like a sardine, and yucky airplane food, and after hours on a long uncomfortable flight, “Are we there yet?”

But once we’re there, he’s peachy.

Just cannot convince him it’s worth it anymore–unless it Disney World.  Then, he’ll endure the misery (and dread the flight home).

For me and my daughter, it’s all part of the adventure.   Going anywhere excites us!  In fact, we can’t drive past our county airport without longing to pull in, and hop on plane to anywhere!

But, that’s not realistic… so we plan.

I was online quite a bit one afternoon recently, researching new adventures in England.  My soon to be junior in high school is studying abroad for two weeks this summer at Oxford University.  She’s too young to go it alone, so I will accompany her, get her settled in, and then spend that time exploring the UK.   I was planning on having to venture out alone, but now I have three of my girlfriends from high school joining me!  How fab is that?!

We met last weekend and mapped out the beginnings of our trip.  Since I’ve been a few times already, and am familiar with planning trips to foreign lands, I said I would look into the lodging and day trip tours, etc…

Half the fun is in the planning, and now for me, planning for those I am traveling with gets me giddy.  When I took my kids to England on our last trip ( a few years ago) they were old enough by then to have very clear interests, so I made sure to book a tour of the Wimbledon venue for my tennis obsessed son, and then we hopped on a thirty minute train out to WB Studios for my Harry Potter loving daughter.

Made the trip for them!

I don’t get all butterfly-ery in my tummy anymore with anticipation (like I used to), but I do get really excited seeing the anticipation in others I care for.  For me, thinking about the interests of my travel buddies, and trying to match our itinerary so everyone gets to do something they really enjoy, is what drives me when I plan.

And things don’t have to be pricey: the tour of Wimbledon was only 12 pounds (about $15).  As soon as I saw it, I booked it!  That’s how this travel mama rolls.  🙂

When I stumbled across some cool sounding tours in and around London recently, I texted my girlfriend and asked something like, “Would you want to go on a Jack the Ripper night walking tour?        Or haunted London?”  (and since I know she stalks the royals)                  I continued with, “We’re gonna tour Kensington Palace where Prince Wills and Kate live, and if we want, we can have high tea there!”

Her response made me giggle,  “OMG!  for reals?!?! …  Soooo excited I totes threw-up a little in my mouth!!”

THAT’S what drives me now.  🙂

Traveling is a way of life for me.  I’ve always felt that way.

When I was in high school, I had a poster of the Eiffel Tower that hung on my wall.  I knew some day I would go there.   When I was nineteen, I noticed an poster hanging in the Humanities building advertising a 19 day/8 country tour of Europe.  It seemed unreachable at the time.

How could a girl who was homeless at 12, send herself to Paris at 19?  But I did it.  I saved for a year and went.  And you can too!

Not sure if you surmised this yet, but I’m sentimental.

I save everything.

Sometimes, that’s not a good thing, but this time I am glad I did.  Below is the savings goal/plan I placed myself on:


I was working as a waitress making about forty bucks a night, going to college full time, tuition and books were my responsibility, bought and paid for my own car, insurance and gas, and I still made it happen.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.  I’ve stayed at luxury hotels at $500/night and I’ve backpacked through Europe (sharing a dorm room with half a dozen strangers) in a $12/night youth hostel.  We all saw the same tourist sites during the day, we just laid our heads on different thread counts at night.

It’s always been about priorities.  As I get older, I want the luxury.  Don’t require it though.

I am really looking forward to my jaunt abroad with my gal pals.  We are all celebrating the big 5-0 this year (well, they are all already in their fifties, I’m still in my forties-HA!)!  What better way to ring in the next decade than to venture out and do something totally different?  Cannot wait!!

Its 5pm, and I am still thinking about that young man who threw another saturday away.  I hope at some point, he gets that it doesn’t matter if he never leaves Orange County.  What does matter?  That eventually, he learns LIFE is a trip every single day, no matter where you are.  It’s the gift of adventure, if only you see it that way.

You just have to make the choice to research it, book it, and GO!








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