Once upon a time, traveling never interested me, especially foreign travel. I never sought out (or knew to seek out) traveling opportunities in high school or college. One set of my grandparents never took trips longer than what they could accomplish on a bus and as a family of 7, our vacations were annual summer beach trips, which I whole-heartedly loved and looked forward to year after year. We did go to Disney World twice and had a fun trip to Niagara Falls. I remember crossing the border into Canada, but it was pre-passport requirement, so it didn’t seem much like foreign travel. My other set of grandparents had two exciting trips, one to Paris and one to Hawaii, both of which I remember vividly them going on and talking about when they returned, but I was so young when they went that neither of them had a profound impact on me. The point is, it never dawned on me that I COULD travel…let alone SHOULD travel.
Many couples use their honeymoon as an opportunity to explore the world or at least stamp their passports, but for a variety of reasons, Paul and I never considered really going away somewhere. We were offered a family member’s beach house in the Outer Banks, for free-and being young, broke, having a new puppy we couldn’t board & didn’t want to leave with family, and way too practical for our own good-we eagerly jumped at the chance to have a relaxing, inexpensive, dog-friendly honeymoon. Despite the simplicity of our honeymoon, it’s a week I wouldn’t change.
So, when our 5th anniversary started to creep up on us, Paul and I were looking to do something different. Four years of infertility had nearly broken us in every way imaginable. Our marriage had gotten rocky and our hearts had been shattered. We were searching desperately for a change of scenery. I’m not sure how a Disney Cruise came to be on our short list of possible anniversary excursions, but it quickly jumped to the top of the list. I love Disney. We trusted their customer service and wanted something that would be filled with the holiday spirit since our anniversary is December 16. Neither one of us had been on a cruise before and we wanted an opportunity to explore some of the Caribbean and see some sunshine. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. It started a passion to travel in the both of us and led us to meet two couples who we still consider some of our greatest friends-despite the fact that barely see them now. Looking back, that trip in December of 2011 marked the beginning of the new us.
It was around this time that my sister and brother-in-law met and started to develop a friendship with an American guy and Finnish girl. Kelly & Riikka quickly became their best friends. It was a tough transition when Riikka & Kelly made the move to Finland, so when Britt and Matt started a discussion about possibly going to visit them, Paul and I eagerly jumped at the chance to tag along. At this point, Britt had already been to Europe twice and was passionate about traveling and making sure her younger sister’s fell in love with it, too. Ally had the opportunity to travel to Europe in high school, so we decided Madison should join us. In the summer of 2012, we went to Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Tallin, Estonia. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Paul and I were hooked. Traveling has given us a new found perspective on life. There are certain lessons that are learned only when you travel. Lessons about yourself, about your spouse, about being a couple, about the world and humanity and life in general. These experiences and lessons have played a vital role in how we embrace a childless life. And because of this, we have developed a serious case of wanderlust.
When the same two couples who we met on our first cruise, decided to cruise again in December of 2013, we were all in. This time, Paul and I went to celebrate our 7th anniversary and see our friends again.
And then again, when Britt and Matt decided to visit Riikka & Kelly in the summer of 2014, Paul and I
invited ourselves…tagged along once more. This time Cassidy was able to join us. We included a four day excursion over to Paris and Paul and I tacked on Krakow, Warsaw and Berlin.
In 2015, we unexpectedly managed to sneak in a trip up to Niagara Falls in the summer and a huge family trip to Disney World in December, where we celebrated our 9th anniversary.
If we can travel, so can you. Take little trips, take big trips. Take trips you save up years for, take trips you can do cheaply and spontaneously. Go alone, go with family. Take planes, trains, boats, automobiles or your feet. True Story: I had a resident who once walked from Charlottesville to Richmond along rt. 250 to win a bet. Make vacation a priority. Those experiences and memories are priceless.
And that brings us to now…and you. Our big 10th Anniversary is coming up in four short months and Paul and I need to start planning. I’ve done a lot of pondering on the difference between need vs. want when it comes to traveling in our life and my conclusion puts it in the need category. If you’re ever really interested in hearing why, I’d be happy to share, though I’m sure most other folks who get bitten by the travel bug know no explanation is needed.
Where should we go? How big of a trip should we take (financially, probably not that big!!!) Do you have any suggestions for us? What are your favorite places? Tell us about your most favorite travel experience.