Growing up, each year, we would always take a vacation and that vacation always included air travel. Those trips also always meant we were going to see my mom’s family in West Virginia. We would often spend a week with my grandparents then hit the road with my mom’s younger sister. Our road trips usually had us visiting some historic site, en route to an outlet mall. I said we vacationed and flew annually, I didn’t say it was glamorous.
We would make our way to historic Williamsburg, VA and stop at the outlet malls halfway from Richmond. We would visit the Amish near Lancaster, PA and stop off at the mall near Reading. We would stay in normal motels, nothing fancy. Rarely was it a hotel proper, more often it was a roadside motel, but it was always clean, safe and with A/C.
Our meals on this trip were always exciting for me. Growing up in rural Oregon in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we didn’t have the haute cuisine you can find underfoot now. Hell, we didn’t even have many nationally recognized chain restaurants. Fast food we had a plenty, but casual eat in places were at least 45 minutes away. On these road trips I was happy, no…I honestly looked forward to eating at Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden, Bob Evans and if my cousin and I were good and kept the fighting limited, we would hit Red Lobster once on the trip. I loved their biscuits.
This type of travel was what I grew up with. It was also more than many of my school friends did. Most of their families were close by. Some couldn’t afford the luxury of air travel. I was fortunate in that regard.
A few times we took an overnight trip to the Oregon Coast, where my mom, dad and I would share a motel room. We would eat at local seafood restaurants, we would browse the shops and yes, we would even visit the Lincoln City outlet mall.
We never took a grand vacation to Disney or Hawaii like some of my friends did. We didn’t have a lot of money. My dad worked as many shifts as he could at the various mills just to try to get ahead. His only real travel experiences, other than the West Virginia excursions included a train trip to Kansas City in High School and to Vietnam. The latter was not his choice.
He said that he always wanted to visit Auatralia. He said once he retires hes going to take two weeks and visit Sydney. He never explained why. Perhaps he knew a girl from there and he wanted to see if it was as lovely as she claimed. Perhaps he thought since it was on the other side of the planet it would be totally different (but the common language would make it easier to get around). Perhaps it was because it seemed like an unattainable goal and he always wanted to work toward something. We will never know why he yearned for Australia. He died before he could fully explain and more importantly he died before his trip ever happened.
Australia was his once in a lifetime trip. “Just wait, once we save a little more and I retire, we will see Australia” he would say regularly. It was sad to hear, especially towards the end. He hung onto that goal forever.
After he got sick, I tried to find a way to make that trip work, but he didn’t want to miss his chemotherapy, maybe this next round would do the trick. He felt awful a lot of the time and I think we can all agree that nothing is worse than being really sick away from home.
It is because of my dad and his unacheived goal, his once in a lifetime trip, that I choose to travel. I found that you can have these once in a lifetime trips more frequently. You don’t need a ton of money, you need planning and the nerve. You’ve heard the phrase “On one’s deathbed, no one ever wishes they spent more time in the office.”
I have been fortunate to take several “once in a lifetime” trips. We’ve done Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, countless trips in both the US and Europe. We’ve always got something in the hopper. If we don’t have flights for our next adventure booked when we are returning from our current trip I am angst filled.
Our next “once in a lifetime” trip is to Peru and Bolivia. Two weeks away from work, seeing the amazing sights of Machu Piccu, eating too much world class food in Lima and cycling the North Yungas Road (a/k/a Death Road) outside of La Paz.
You never know when your time will be up. Take every opportunity you can to live your dreams – be they travel related, food / cooking, cocktail / wine, writing, running or learning. Whatever your goal just do it. Talk about it. Get excited, get others excited. Ask for help on how to achieve whatever it is you are striving for.