Thursday, July 09, 2009

I've been longing to travel quite a bit lately. I've always loved traveling. Some of my fondest memories are the annual summer vacations my family would take when I was younger. We rarely went anywhere too far from Iowa, so our destinations were typically Midwestern cities like St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, or spots like the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, the Lake of the Ozarks region in Missouri, or the northern Minnesota shoreline of Lake Superior. We would always drive, and I would read in the back seat and inevitably begin to feel carsick. I remember staying in roadside motels, falling asleep to the dulcet tones of my parents' tandem snoring, trying to stay out of the radius of my brother's thrashing limbs (until we were old enough and my parents got a roll-away bed for Scott, hallelujah). In the cities, we'd go to a major league baseball game if possible, visit an amusement park, walk through the downtown. Some of the memorable highlights were originally experienced as lowlights (passion play, anyone?) but always, always the vacation seemed magical, a time out of time and routine.

My more adventurous travels began when I was in college--mission trips to Honduras and the Philippines, a semester overseas in Oxford, a brief tour of Northwestern Europe following. Lots of road trips (particularly back and forth between Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Iowa). Our big prize trip to the West Coast (I won a photo contest; the prize was a flying/driving trip complete with airfare, car rental, hotel and spending cash). Jeff and I managed to get back to Ireland and visit NYC before I started grad school, despite not having much money saved up or a lot of vacation time. I now wish we had done more.

Having young kids makes travel inconvenient, to say the least. Charlotte was always such an atrocious sleeper that any kind of disruption to her "routine" would throw off any progress we had made. So I was reluctant to do much traveling when she was a baby, plus, of course, the limitations imposed by a graduate student budget dictated that our trips were few and far between, and typically just to visit family. We did make it to western Massachusetts and Athens, Georgia in our last six months in Ohio, to visit universities.

Now, with Sam, we're even more hesitant to hit the road. He's not as apt to sleep peacefully in his car seat as Charlotte was, so any road trip longer than a few hours can quickly devolve into a horrible nightmare of squalling baby, whining toddler, white-knuckled driver and stressed-out spouse. Not the relaxing vacation I'm dreaming of, that's for sure.

So I spend a lot of time making lists--lists of places I want to visit with the kids when they're older and we have more disposable income. Places to go just with Jeff after depositing the kids at the grandparents house (right guys?). Places to hit up with my friends. Places to go with the whole extended family.

Where would you go right now if money and time were no object? Why? And what's your favorite vacation memory, and why? Leave the details in the comments.

For me, if I could go anywhere at all, I think I'd go to South America (Buenos Aires, perhaps), Spain, or New Zealand, for at least two weeks. I've never been to any of those places, and they are each suitably "exotic" enough to feel like a real leave-taking.

It's hard to narrow down my very favorite vacation memory, but I think my week-long trip with Jeff to Ireland in 2003, hot on the tail of my unexpected firing from my first job, was pretty amazing. And our road trip from Seattle to San Francisco was really memorable--we stayed at some fantastic places that we would never have been able to afford if it weren't for the contest.


Anonymous said...

I would go anyplace where there are mountains, pine trees and lakes. I'd love to take a train ride through the Canadian rockies some day. we are leaving for Wyoming, the Tetons and Yellowstone next week so hopefully I'll be able to do a little hiking and breath in the pine. My favorite vacation memories are going to Bemedji MN every summer, camping, and going to the ice crease store in town and taking my children on a vacation through MN visiting all the places I had gone as a child. Since you can't go far right now, go to a Royals game for us :)

Lauren said...

My favorite vacation memory was our family trip to New Mexico the summer I turned sixteen. New Mexico (particularly Taos and Santa Fe) were absolutely beautiful. I'd also spent over a month away from home that summer prior to the vacation, so it was really meaningful to get to spend so much time with the fam. Oh, and I drove us home through western Kansas in what amounted to a monsoon. Awesome first road trip experience ;)

JSK said...

If I could go anywhere right now it would be somewhere with water, big water not the Hocking or the little creek that runs by my house. The Ohio was a little bit of a fix, but not much. I want BIG, can't see the other side, water!
My favorite vacation memories are probably of staying with my grandmother, known as Granny to everyone in the town related or not. I'd go there for about a month to two every summer to where it didn't even feel like a vacation, it was just where I lived between late June and early August. Man, I wish I could do that now. Just take a two month break from normal life. Those were the days!

Anonymous said...

Where would I go if time and money were no object. Alaska! also as many National Parks as possible and Oh all the Major League Ball parks and the Netherlands!! and the Canadian rockies and Banff! I guess you can see where you get your travel love! Favorite vacation memories; any vacation we were all together but especially England and the strawberry incident in Indiana. Mom D
P.S. Yes we will care for your children

relvalations said...

Roll-away bed my ass. You guys made me sleep on the floor.

M said...

Since I am currently on vacation, it's hard to decide where I would go if I could go anywhere. I'm pretty fond of HHI and the beach. I've always wanted to go to Bolivia with my dad though. And Slovenia with my Pap.

As far as fav vacay mems (hanging out with a 16-year- old for a week greatly increases one's use of abbreviated words) : DC with my uncle when my sister fell in the fountain at the Kennedy Center; pancakes as big as your head in Terry, Montana; watching Disney fireworks from the Princess Di suite at the Grand Floridian...those are prolly the tops.

Anonymous said...

If money were no object, I would go to England. All my favorite dead authors are there. After that? Europe, then Peru.

I'm right there with you regarding missing is very tight so even a getaway weekend that doesn't involve staying with friends or my parents just isn't feasible now. I can't say I miss the family vacations I took growing up, but I do miss some of the modest trips I took when I was single. I went to Chicago several times when my best friend lived near there. I also made a couple trips out to Virginia. I wish I had done a semester abroad in college. Sigh. I hope your family is able to take trips soon.

Jennifer V.

Kurt said...

These days I would most like to visit my friends' hometowns. My friend Kelsey is from Arcata, CA and lived in San Francisco. Since I've never been to the West Coast, I'd love to go there with her. I'd also like to go back to the South.

I've wanted to go to Europe for so long and with such intensity that if I went, I don't know what my life would be like afterward. I'm afraid I might not have any aspirations any more if I went.

momdadtig said...

This is pretty good coming from someone who doesn't LOVE to travel: A private jet or first class seat (money was no object, right?) to a Carribean Island, Ireland, Israel for sure, an African safari or Italy to see where my dad served in the war. Or a road trip to a little cottage on the ocean in New Hampshire or a little cabin in the Smokies. Best memory: our family trip out west; our last, big, all-together family outing. Best looking-forward to (realistic) vacation: Anywhere with all 10 of us, even if it's here at home. Notes to JSK: Come see us in Michigan. We have lots 'o big, beautiful water for you to enjoy. And I love your memory of a month or two at grandma's house!!(Mom T.)