As i kid, I remember sitting for hours reading encyclopedias, looking at maps and looking forward to social studies class. I have always been fascinated with different places, cultures and their customs. Other boys at my age had posters of athletes on their walls and I had world maps.
I remember in the late 70's early 80's, riding in the backseat of an old datsun with no air conditioning from Pittsburgh to Florida. I would be sweltering in the back but also so memorized by all the signs, building and all that was around us as we continued down the road. It was something as simple as a day trip to another town for a fair or the summers i spent working on my grandparents farm in upstate NY, that started my life of travel.
I was about Ten years old when I flew to Florida by myself. It was the thrill of my life and I haven't looked back. I had a ticket and a seat and had so much attention of all those around me. The beauty of childhood is that you haven't yet been jaded by the experiences of others and take things at face value.
To this day, I love walking around airports. The energy, people, smells still make me feel a little child like. I like to wander around the newsstands and watch people and wonder where they are going and why. Walking past the arrival and departure boards is like being a kid in the candy store. I think of all the places i have been and how many more are awaiting my arrival.
"Its about the journey not the destination," while it may be cliche, I think it holds true to me.
My first trip "overseas" was to Jamaica when I was fifteen for a missions trip. I had to raise my own support money and helped to build a school for two weeks in the sweltering heat. It was amazing experience to be with other teenagers from around the country and to be able to work along side people from another culture. I saw a lot of the good and bad in humanity and while I wouldn't say it made me jaded, i felt like i was on the road to personal growth.
Another memorable experience was 3 weeks i spent in Costa rica in college. Originally it was presented as a way to avoid a semester of a foreign language. While we did have time to be tourists, it ended up to be so much more. I spent a week of the trip living with a family in the suburbs of San Jose, Costa rica. It was one of the first times I was exposed to people that "had less" than some in the United states and yet they were still happy. It was a lesson that has stayed with me into my forties, as I have been working my way thru the Caribbean for the past twenty years.
The summer after my sophomore year in college, a high school friend and I took an 87 jeep wrangler, a bag phone, some cash and drove from NY to San Francisco. We spent three weeks popping in and out of over 21 states. We drove thru little Mississippi towns to nights under desert skies. We slept at rest areas, ate at truck stops and saw places like the grand canyon, Vegas, sequoia national park and drove up the Pacific coast Highway.
The summer after graduating high school, was our first family trip to England. What a thrill to be 18 and off across the pond. My mom still talks about how I navigated the underground and Piccadilly circus for an afternoon by myself.
These days my time away consists of places that are warm and laid back, I still enjoy the entire journey. The romance of it comes from the packing, the travel itself and the people I meet along the way.
The person who dies with the least regrets, wins.