I grew up in a small town on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Sounds idyllic and to a certain degree, it was. We’d ride our bikes a mile to the beach and play on the cliffs. We’d spend hours in the woods making up adventure games. We used the entire neighborhood for hide and seek.
No one really worried about strange men in the woods or dark vans that would pull up beside you. That stuff certainly went on back in the 70s but it wasn’t in the forefront of our minds. We were kids and full of innocence juts enjoying daily life as best we knew how.
But I always wanted more.
Even as a little girl, I loved the hustle and bustle of the city. We’d drive to Washington, DC and I felt at home. Rising the Metro was one of my favorite things to do (even though I always had this inexplicable draw towards the tracks).
Occasionally, my dad would have to fly somewhere and we’d make the hour drive to drop him off at National Airport. Back in those days, you could walk your loved one all the way to the gate for goodbyes so I had many glimpses of life inside the terminal.
Specifically, I remember seeing strangely dressed men preaching the gospel of Hare Krishna (that didn’t only happen in the movie “Airplane”). And I remember seeing people sitting in single seats pumping dimes into the miniature TV attached to the chair. I wish I had taken pictures of those times. It was quintessential 70s.
And while the material things and people were what stuck in memory banks, what stayed with me the most was the feeling I had when I was in the terminal. It was busy – people constantly coming and going. (Think O.J. Simpson sprinting through the airport and leaping over piles of suitcases.)
I literally thought to myself, Wow. These people are going places. And I longed to one day be one of them.
I can remember the years of my high school angst and to escape the loneliness of it all, I’d stare at pictures all day of a travel magazine I had. It was Jamaica, specifically, and the blue skies, green grasses, and crystal turquoise waters captured me. That was a dream to me. But that’s all it was. I never imagined I could actually go there.
But I did. And I went many other places.
It started with a timeshare presentation that offered a “free” cruise to the Bahamas. It was a miserable ride to the town of Freeport. Not a dream vacation by my standards today but I felt like I was escaping my life for the first time.
I eventually joined the travel industry where I spent 3 1/2 years doing one thing that I found I had a passion for. Traveling.
Whether it was helping people find the next flight out of Jakarta because of sudden civil unrest or listen to the complaints of a corporate traveler who couldn’t remember where they parked their car at DFW, it was never a dull moment. I loved the work and I loved the fringe benefits even more.
Back in those days, travel agents were wined and dined and offered either free or greatly reduced prices on trips. I finally got to see parts of this amazing country that I had only dreamed about: California (which literally felt like the other side of the world to me), New Mexico, Seattle, Phoenix, Las Vegas. I traveled to Cancun, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, London, and Paris. And then I left the travel business for the high-tech sector thinking my dreams of traveling were over.
As my career advanced, so did my salary. I also met and married my husband who shared my wanderlust. He had spent many years in the air force and had been all over the country and all over the world. His travel map wasn’t as enticing: Iowa, Florida (he did a lot of disaster relief), Rwanda, Kuwait, Somalia, Thailand, the Azores, Alaska.
We set out to see the world together and ended up cruising throughout the Caribbean, heading to London, touring Berlin, and spending an amazing week in China with my brother.
Then, we started a family and we froze. We went nowhere. We literally just stopped.
I’d like to say I was one of those moms that strapped a baby to my back and just went. But I wasn’t. And now it’s over six years later and we’re getting the itch again.
When I travel now, whether it’s for work or a conference, I still make it a tourist’s adventure. I take so many pictures and explore my location. And then I never write about it. So on Saturdays, I’m going to resurrect my wanderlust and start to write again about some of the adventures I’ve had more recently and hopefully get inspired to start some new ones.
I started a series called Armchair Traveler a few years ago where you can read about some of my early exploits. Stay tuned for more to come and a big announcement I have on Monday!
P.S. If you’re a travel lover like me, tell me your favorite destination or someplace you’ve dreamed of going.