When I was growing up, we did not travel much as a family. In fact, most of the vacations were road trips to neighboring states in the Midwest. As a child, I was not really interested in going out to explore new destinations…probably because my perception was sitting in a car for hours was not appealing! Traveling for vacation was more like a chore vs. something that should be enjoyable.
However, I gradually became warm to the idea of traveling. Maybe because I was maturing and started to like traveling after college, who knows??? It has been a journey, but traveling has opened my mind to experiencing new cultures. Here is my story:
First Sign of the Travel Bug
In 2005, I worked for a large food & beverage company, it was my second job since graduating college. A few months into the job, my manager calls me over & says “Vince, we have to go to San Francisco for a few days…” For me, being from Illinois, I was ecstatic to hear my manager say that! This was going to be my first work trip EVER! I had been to California once as a child, but the experience was not great at all.
This time around, it was going to be better because:
1) actually going to city of San Francisco
2) work was paying for Everything
3) no family was coming 🙂
Though it was only a few days, it was a great experience for a first work trip. Today, I have been on countless work trips that I eventually forget, but I always remember that 1st trip to San Francisco.
FYI – That company offered me a job transfer the following year to California & I happily accepted. It has been 11+ years living in California and no signs of living anywhere else!
Fueling the (Travel) Fire
After I moved to California, my sister asked if I wanted to visit New York City for a long weekend. I had never been to NYC, so I joined in for the festivities. My sister did all the planning, I pretty much flew over and did whatever she said. One thing that I appreciated was this was one of the first times I started to take in the culture of where I was visiting. We went all over Manhattan – Times Square, Central Park, museums, everywhere…and I really enjoyed the visit.
Local Ski Bum
Traveling does not have to involve getting in a plane and jet setting, it can be enjoying the local area as well. A good drive can take you to completely different setting in just hours, especially in Northern California.
One of those places a few hours from me is Lake Tahoe. The lake is surrounded by the Sierra Mountains where dozens of ski resorts are located. Locals flock to Lake Tahoe during the winter to get a few good runs of skiing. The Midwest does not have the mountains like California, so it was surprising for me to hear stories from co-workers about their weekend ski adventures. The first winter season living in California, I learned how to downhill ski. These days, I go skiing a couple times each ski season, which feels like a mini-vacation. Travel can be any distance, as long as it is an adventure!
First Time to Asia
It was January 2008, although I had started to travel a little, I was not at all prepared for this vacation…nor do I think any of us knew what to expect. We were visiting Vietnam for the first time and left it to our relatives in Vietnam to do the planning, along with my sister doing a little planning as well. Overall, it was an OK trip, but I could have experienced more of the culture if we really did the research.
More Leisure Travel, More Exploring
A few more trips where I absorbed the culture of the local area, but no real organization to planning the trip…
Cruise to Mexico during graduate school: In 2008, I was in graduate school part-time while working a full-time job. A few weeks before the Spring semester ended, I knew a small getaway with my best friend was in order. We decided on a Los Angeles-to-Mexico cruise since it was only a 3-day excursion, affordable, & the first time cruising for us. It was OK, I enjoyed the hospitality and service of the cruise a lot!
San Diego/Mexico trip: In summer 2009, my sister along with her boyfriend (now husband) wanted to celebrate her birthday by going to San Diego for a weekend. I gladly joined and we enjoyed the weekend visiting the SoCal area and Tiajuana, Mexico. Good tacos! A few weeks later, we would be going to…
EUROPE! This was my first time to Europe and most of time was going to be on the Norwegian Cruise Line. Looking back at the experience, I wish that we would have stayed on land vs. going port-to-port. However, we did get to visit a few Italian cities, France, Spain, & Malta.
The Vacation where I full-on caught the Travel Bug
In Fall 2010, my family wanted to visit Vietnam again. This time around, I would be better prepared for knowing what to expect. The plan was for my sister to pay for the airfare, while I paid for the hotel & leisure + planning the itinerary! The trip was about 4 weeks long and we were going to visit all of Vietnam + Thailand for a few days.
Because I was responsible for fully planning the agenda, I had to ensure the crew enjoyed themselves to the fullest. We started in Saigon (South), went to the Central region, & made it to Hanoi (North). Then, flew to Bangkok, Thailand for a few days and back to Vietnam. It was an EPIC trip!!!
I think by planning everything, the experience made me appreciate taking in as much of the culture as possible within the time. From this point on, I have always been eager/excited/anxious to plan the next trip!
The Rest is History
Pictured (Top Left, counter clockwise): Narita, Japan (Dec 2011); My Tho, Vietnam (Dec 2013); Tokyo, Japan (Nov 2014); Yangon, Burma (Jan 2016); Maui, Hawaii (Oct 2015), Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska (May 2015)
Whether you seldom travel or are a frequent flyer, take in as much of the local experience as possible when traveling. You get to see and learn firsthand about other cultures that guidebooks cannot offer.
Make Today > Yesterday