A Little Ancient History: We were an unlikely band of travelers—three 20-somethings, an 11-year-old, and a babe in arms. Bags piled atop the car, we traveled in a VW bug and kept in touch with family—more or less—by stopping to check for general delivery posts from Naples to Amsterdam. We followed an itinerary—more or less—laid out by the parents we had left in the States. We operated on a limited budget, made no reservations in advance, and stayed in the cheapest lodging we could find.
As you might have guessed, there were . . . incidents. We forgot to pick up the diapers left for washing in a Florence laundromat. We survived an avalanche. We lost an entire packet of travelers’ checks. We put the car in the hold of a World War II transport and took it with us as we flew across the Channel to the land of our forbearers. There, we risked life and limb as we tried—more or less—to drive on the wrong side of the road. (“DRIVE TO THE LEFT!” commanded the sticker a stern-faced Brit, obviously loath to let us into the country, plastered on the dash after we landed.)
Rough Seas: And returning home, we were a day late after a stormy Atlantic crossing, delayed (who would have thought?) by an iceberg. Unbeknownst to the spotters who should have blown it up, it had slipped into the shipping lanes, forcing our ship to change course. No Titanic moment for us!
This was my eventful first foray into international travel. I was one of the 20-somethings. The other two were my sister and brother-in-law; the babe in arms, their daughter; the 11-year-old, my brother. And, as I imagine you’ve guessed, this trip was quite a long time ago.
We travel a little differently now. In fact, though I had been abroad several times after that, armed now with all the things that make travel and staying in touch so much easier (cell phone, laptop, Kindle), the next trip I took with my sister and brother-in-law, was a recent leisurely cruise on the Danube. Staid by comparison, but oh-so-much-more relaxing!
The point is there are all kinds of trips—and all kinds of travelers. My nephew, Mike (son of the aforementioned sister and brother-in-law), delights in solo adventures that take him around the globe and writes wonderful accounts of his explorations. Whereas I’ve come to enjoy the economies of both time and money in booking package tours, he likes the challenge of researching and making all the arrangements himself. There are pros and cons to each approach, but that’s a topic for another time. Meanwhile, Mike's take on travel can be found by clicking on "Other Voices."