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Why We Travel – Unplanned Travel Surprises

Why-we-Travel Stories travel inspiration

Everyone can think back and remember something that has inspired them to travel. Maybe it was an actual trip, a family reunion, or a fun vacation that left you with lasting impressions. You could have read a fantastic book in your childhood, allowing you to travel far and wide from your bedroom, under the covers well past bedtime with your flashlight, craving more adventure. You might have stood in line with others to see the far corners of the world in a blockbuster as a teen. Whatever your reason, once you have the travel bug in you, it’s a chronic condition. For me, wanderlust began long before I actually traveled and I cannot pinpoint the exact start. My guess is it was always in me. One thing is clear, the memories of my family’s travels growing up only made my drive stronger; with each adventure came lasting memories and inspiration to explore outside my familiar territory.

Glacier National Park

At the top of Logan’s Pass, at the end of Going to the Sun Highway, I witnessed an amazing vista full of sloping snowy banks while comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. This was a real novelty, since in Minnesota we would have frozen cold clad that way in the snow. I also witnessed my little brother get pummeled in the face with a snowball by my well-meaning, jokester father. My mother was cringing and for what seemed like a slow-motion eternity, I watched as my brother’s face turned from a laugh, to a grin, to a grimace as everyone else looked on in horrific anticipation. I know my mom was thinking silently, Oh no! All of my planning and now they will be grumpy and miss out on all of the excellent adventures I worked hours to make happen!  It was an otherwise beautiful day and you know what I remember most? Yep. The snowball. Not the awe-inspiring views. Not the trip up the highway or even an iconic large mammal causing traffic jam. Nope, I remember my brother getting thunked with a snowball on accident sent sailing by his very own kin.

Ixtapa, Mexico

why-we-travel family-vacations

There was the trip to Ixtapa—my family along with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. My dad and I burned and peeled. I got my hair styled in corn rows and made some ceramic toucans at the arts and crafts tent (I still display the toucans in my bathroom today). But I also remember Senor Frogs, para-sailing and having a way cute tanned muscular guy catch me. I remember my cousin and I thinking what dorks our mothers were for doing crazy water aerobics in the pool. Now, I’m the mom in the pool that may someday embarrass kids.

I never thought about the work and planning that my mom put into these trips when I was partaking in them. Now that I’m the primary planner, I want to hug my mom because sometimes you need the vacation after planning it and surviving it with your sometimes ungrateful children! So mom, in hindsight, I think you ROCKED that water workout!!

Sanibel Island, FL

sanibel Island florida

I was forever a collector of things, emotionally important little trinkets from my travels, all. A pressed flower here, a ton of sea shells there. It was during one such collecting occasion that I came across the best shells on Sanibel Island. I loaded the trunk of the rental car with these gorgeous treasures. A few hot hours in the sun and parking lots later and we were back at the hotel. The trunk stunk. So, I unloaded all my shells and lugged them up to the room, to wash the stink away for the journey home. Under the warm water all of my “shells” came to life and I remember releasing the creatures back into the wilds of the ocean promptly. We also drove the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve – I had my permit, and dad finally gave in to my pleading. What should have been a short loop took about three hours at my near idling pace, but I was in my glory!

U.P. Michigan

I got attacked by ring-billed gulls during a picnic and was stuck aboard the S.S. Boring as my parents ooh and awed over rocks. Did I mention this was during my teenage angst years? I now appreciate Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore much more and looking back, would have left teenage me at home! What a party pooper I was! Karmic like forces must have been around for that trip since I also remember my brother laughing as I dipped my toes in a waterfall fed creek. He later told me that I was downstream from where he had just peed. Oh, memories.

Surprising Family Vacation Memories

My point with all of this? The reality of family vacations don’t always hardly ever matches your perception before going. You can plan out every second, but when you get there, the key is to remain flexible. In all of the chaos and calamity, we were always able to find happiness and laughter at each turn. And don’t get me wrong, we took wonderful, beautiful blessed trips as a family, but the irony and excitement of an unplanned adventure was always the brightest memory!

I have my parents to thank for all of the awful memories that made me sure I wanted to keep traveling for the rest of my life. The string of rotten vacation incidents has followed me into adulthood, internationally and within my own state. I am so thankful for this legacy of crazy family adventures and I cannot wait to have some unplanned travel surprises pop up on our next outing. All of these experiences and so many more have made me only want to make sure that they are in endless supply for my family as we learn and grow together through travel.

Do you have a similar memory? It seems everyone does. No matter where you went or where you are from, I’m quite sure that the most epic moments of a family vacation are the less-than perfect ones. You can’t plan them and you can’t plan for them, they simply catch you off guard. Those moments when a family bands together, heckles one another, or shares something that soon becomes an inside joke at reunions—that is a vacation memory at its finest. I have said before: family bonding is best done in a jam-packed sedan, and I still stand firm on that!

We’re excited to kick off this brand new series here on Trekaroo where you get an inside glimpse into why our family of writers have chosen a traveling lifestyle.  To see other articles in this inspirational series, check out Why We Travel.

We would love to hear your story. Tell us why you travel in the comments. 

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4 Responses to Why We Travel – Unplanned Travel Surprises

  1. LiLing Pang December 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Amanda, I loved your stories and memories from traveling as a child and teen! It got me thinking about my travel memories and it’s true that it is the unexpected, unplanned, sometimes trying moments that you look back at and remember with a certain fondness. Perhaps it’s because it’s in these moments you see each other come alive and they are the unique memories that you only share with very people you are with.

    I remember the centipede that snuck into our tent while camping in Malaysia and my mom using up a whole bottle of insecticide to try to kill it to no avail. Finally, she killed it with a barbecue fork at about 4am in the morning.

    I also remember freezing our butts off perching under a bridge along a river bank eating steamed lobsters that we had purchased off the fishing docks in Maine with my family and grandma all because my dad was insistent on finding a good spot for a lobster picnic. I too was a teenager and very grumpy.

    Another funny memory I have is arriving in London and unpacking my bag around the age of 5 after taking a shower. My mom had forgotten to pack my panties! She proceeded to put me in huge adult size disposable underwear. I looked ridiculous and till this day, when I pack my travel bag, the first thing i reach for are my panties.

    I treasure these memories and also hope that our family will create some of our own. I must remember this the next time something unexpected happens on one of our trips.

  2. Tina Buell December 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    What a great article!!! I loved reading this!

  3. Michelle December 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    My parents and I still laugh at the word, “Punchbowl” because of the funny memories it brings up of our unexpected 3 mile walk up in Hawaii. Those unplanned moments, especially when we can laugh at ourselves, ARE the best! And I agree about cramming into minivans, and hotel rooms, and tents.. but maybe not airline seats! Loved reading your family stories!

  4. Amanda W January 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    I think it’s really something that rings true for all travelin’ families! It’s just a matter of thinking back on what sticks out! Thanks for the compliments ladies, it was a fun one to ponder on and write about!

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