I was the one who came up with this topic… what was I thinking?
Growing up, we didn’t go away on many vacations. I suppose it wasn’t the thing to do in my neighborhood. During the summer, we spent days walking to the library ten blocks away and coming home with as many books as we could carry. When we got hot, we’d jump through the sprays of the sprinkler or splash around in the plastic pool. Some friends of our family owned a cabin on a lake north of us, so for a few days every summer we’d go there. One summer, Dad drove us to Arlington, VA to visit a war buddy of his who worked in the Pentagon. We stopped at the Gettysburg cemetery on the way down, and made a detour through Niagara Falls coming back. I remember that trip fondly, but my mother has another recollection. She’s a first class worrier, so traveling to an unknown place, visiting people she didn’t know, and picking up unknown germs was too stressful for her – and we never went on another family trip. So I guess my mom’s the one who had the misadventure.
After I started teaching, I started taking advantage of school breaks. During the long summer vacation I’d work, but the holiday and spring breaks were a great time to travel. A friend and I went on a Caribbean cruise one year during the Christmas/New Year break. And on one of my spring breaks we traveled to Maryland to stay with my uncle, who lived halfway between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Both adventures were quite memorable, and I can’t remember any mishaps during either trip.
After hubby and I married, there wasn’t a lot of extra money for trips, but my parents owned a time share condo in Orlando, so one spring break we drove to Florida with four out of the five kids. There are always challenges when traveling with small children, and this was no exception. Our youngest got carsick, we ended up taking a long detour because hubby doesn’t read highway signs very well (this was obviously in the days before GPS kept us from getting lost), and the kids fought in the back seat. But our pictures tell us we had a good time while we were there.
After that, hubby stopped going on vacations and put an in-ground pool in our back yard. He said he preferred to stay at home and relax where he was comfortable, so he drew his vacation pay and worked all year. I didn’t agree with his reasoning and for five years I refused to get into the pool. Instead, I went on vacation by without him… and with our daughters. I discovered we could see and do more without him along, so we really didn’t miss him. We went to Chicago several times, spent a week at the Jersey shore, and went on other short trips. We attended musicals, went to concerts, shopped at unusual places, and met lots of new people. The high school marching band went to the Fiesta bowl in Phoenix, AZ, so I went along and had a great time with the other parents. Mishaps? Sure there were some, but nothing worth thinking about.
We became empty nesters when the kids left for college. Our daughters both loved traveling (they obviously got that from me), so they both did a study abroad. One went to Mexico, and I actually talked hubby into going with me to visit. The other one went to Greece, and he declined, so I took a friend along. Our trip to Mexico was fun, although the city of Guanajuato is built in a valley – so to go anywhere, you have to go either uphill or downhill.
Without hubby, I went to Japan, France, Los Angeles, North Carolina, and Texas have been some of my destinations in the past ten years. Some misadventures on those trips:
Japan: My inability to speak the language caused some problems, especially since I look like I should be able to understand Japanese. Sometimes people thought I was deaf and would gesture wildly. Other times they probably thought I was intellectually challenged. At one particular shrine, I was busy taking pictures when a woman approached me and spoke authoritatively. I nodded and smiled. On my way out, I saw the sign I should have seen going in – “NO PHOTOGRAPHS ALLOWED.”
France: Our hotel had wifi, and I had my ipad with me, but there was a public computer in the lobby, so I decided to use it to type out and upload a blog post. For those of you who’ve tried typing on a flat ipad screen, you’ll understand why. Anyway, I had the post written out, so I didn’t look at my fingers or the screen as I typed. It wasn’t until I’d nearly completed the post that I realized I probably should have paid more attention. Take a look at a French keyboard and you’ll see why I had to retype the whole thing.
Greece: I was amazed at how many native Greeks speak fluent English. My friend and I never had any trouble finding someone who could help us get around. I had no problems there, except that when we rented a car to get around, there were none with automatic transmission!
Texas: Mom and I spent a week in the Houston area celebrating my niece’s wedding. I rented a car so that we weren’t dependent on others for transportation. On our first night there, I’d stopped at a light when I noticed a man on the sidewalk waving his arms and yelling, “Lots! Lots! You need lots!” He was looking right at me, so I rolled down my window and yelled, “Lots of WHAT?” He stared at me, puzzled, then said, “It’s dark out now, so y’all gotta have your lots on.”
What vacation challenges have you encountered?