Nobody has ever asked me how I got the urge to travel. When did the travel bug take a big chunk out of me?
During my childhood, we rarely left the state of California, perhaps venturing to Lake Tahoe for summer vacations. Our family vacations were road trips, mostly to Southern California, staying with relatives, and getting to visit Disneyland, Marineland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the beach. My Aunt and Uncle took me to Tijuana, Mexico when I was in junior high to buy firecrackers. But that was it.
My first airline flight was from LAX to the booming metropolis of Visalia, CA, about an hour south of here. It was a big thrill at the time. My brother and I both had window seats, drank iced tea, and were living the good life, for about an hour. Ditto, my first bus trip was Fresno to Los Angeles, to see some Yankees-Angels games at Dodger Stadium.
Even during college, we could not afford to travel very far, whether by car, boat or plane. Not that we were poor, but it was just not a priority. Our lives were full, happy, healthy, and always very family oriented. We spent a great amount of time with our relatives here in the Valley, and in the greater Los Angeles area.
Once out of college (the first time), my girlfriend at the time was an experienced traveler. She spent a year abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her sister worked for the US Embassy in London. She was headed to Hong Kong to see relatives.
So, I applied for a passport, and with her encouragement, planned my first trip abroad, in this case, to Europe. It was a big itinerary for a first timer. The trip began with a $99 charter flight from Oakland to London Gatwick. I went with a college buddy, and we decided to play the remainder of the trip by the seat of our pants. So, after a few days in London, getting bored, we took the ferry to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was fabulous and fed our hunger for more of Europe. After activating our Eurail passes, we headed on to France, Belgium, and Germany, where we spent another beer filled week. Then on to Switzerland, where bad news arrived, my Father had passed away. My Mom told me to stay and continue with my trip. But I was so miserable, I wanted to go home. Yet, it took another week to get a flight, out of Rome, since flights were not so plentiful back then.
So, what did I miss? I was going to meet a friend in Greece, and drive around the Mediterranean countries as winter approached. I also planned to work in London at a hospital, then travel some more when the weather improved. Needless to say, I missed all of the Mediterranean except Italy.
I made a huge footnote to myself: I must get back, the sooner the better. Yet, it took almost 30 years for me to return. Why? Well, I assume that life got in the way, things like marriage, grad school, family, and a career.
But the travel bug took a big bite, and left me wanting more. In the intervening years, there were many trips to Hawaii, Mexico, and other US locations. I began traveling for business for about ten years. But trans oceanic trips remained on the back burner.