“What is your most memorable childhood travel memory?” That’s what I’ve asked many travel bloggers and other travel addicts. These are their personal stories and photos.
Today, I interview Natalie from Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown!
Hi Natalie, do you remember the first time you went travelling?
The first major trip that I can remember was to California. I’ve lived in South Carolina my entire life, so the cross-country journey included my first plane trip, my first taste of the West Coast, and my first earthquake (which was just strong enough to shake our hotel room, but not bad enough to cause any damage).
We set off on this two week adventure when I was five years old (way back in 1989); along for the ride were my parents and my three-year-old sister.
One of the most vivid things I can remember about getting on the plane was the fact that my parents had bought my sister and I each a coloring book, new crayons, and a doll. I didn’t care about getting up into the air–I was just excited that I didn’t have to share with my sister for once!
Once we were in California, we rented a car and went to Monterey, San Francisco, and Carmel. Of the trip, the things I remember the most are seeing the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, getting a new dress in Carmel, and touring the Hearst Mansion (which had the biggest indoor pool that I’d ever seen!).
Did your parents travel much before you were born?
Neither one traveled much until the early 1980s. My mom had decided that she wanted to see Europe, so she and my dad saved up for a two week trip to Italy, Switzerland, France, and England. It was the first time that either of them had been out of the country, and they both always talk about it like it was an excellent decision. They went through a guided tour company, which they liked since they had no other experience traveling.
I loved hearing about their experiences going to Rome (seeing the Sistine Chapel) as well as their mishaps (oversleeping and nearly missing the tour bus!).
This was taken in Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina, in 1994. I was born in Charleston, but we moved away when I was two because of my dad’s job–still, Charleston’s history and charm kept luring my parents back for vacations until we moved there again in 1996.
My parents were always trying to expose my sister (in the rainbow shorts) and I (in the middle) to as much history as they could, so our vacation to Charleston that year involved a trip to the fort where the first shots of the U.S. Civil War were exchanged. Even though I was only 10 at the time, I loved feeling the old brick walls and imagining what life had been like out on this small island in the middle of the harbor.
What was your favourite holiday destination as a child, a teenager and an adult?
Like any other kid, I loved going to Disney World, and we made one small trip there each year. However, I grew up going on these trips all over the U.S. with my parents and sister, so I honestly looked forward to the big reveal of each year’s trip! The California trip was a favorite, as was one to the Shenandoah Valley and to Salem, Massachusetts.
Other than Disney World, we never went back to the same place twice, so from that first big trip to California to the time I graduated from high school, I’d gone as far north as Prince Edward Island, Canada, as far south as the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, and as far east as London. Each of them left a huge imprint on me, and I slowly began to realize how much my travels had shaped my childhood. I also realized that I loved any place that had historical or literary ties.
Today, I still love going to new places, and I rarely visit the same place twice. I have gone to London multiple times (5 times in the last ten years) for both work and school. I’ve also fallen in love with Savannah, Georgia, which is an easy two hour road trip from Charleston. Another place that I’d love to return to soon would be the Florida Keys, since there’s some great scuba diving and absolutely gorgeous scenery.
I guess we hadn’t listened to our parents!
Here, my sister (on the right) and I (with the sweet fanny pack on the left) try out the stocks in Salem, Massachusetts, back in 1993. One of the goals for that trip was to expose my sister and I to the literature and history of Salem, so we read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables as a family before we left.
Touring the inspiration for that book right after reading it taught me so much more than if I’d read it as part of a class assignment! On that trip, we also learned about the Salem Witch trials and about life in colonial America.
Can you remember a specific travel item/gadget you used to take on a trip as a child?
Since most of the trips we took were road trips, my sister and I loved our car television. Now, this was back in the 1990s, so our car television was roughly the size of a microwave! My parents would strap it in between the front seats, and my sister and I would happily watch our favorite movies for the many hours it took us to get to our destinations.
Here we are in the Outer Banks in 1991. As a part of this trip, my mom (in the white hat) and dad had decided to combine a beach vacation with some history.
We weren’t ones to just sit on the sand all day, so interspersed into our beach visits were trips to the Wright Memorial (shown), which commemorated the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Cape Hatteras lighthouse (we climbed ALL the way to the top), and a viewing of the Lost Colony play, which tells the story of how an entire group of settlers in Roanoke disappeared.
Did the way you travelled as a child changed much when you grew up?
My childhood travels didn’t change much, as my parents didn’t ever shy away from taking two small kids anywhere.
It was understood that we needed to pay attention and learn at all of the places we were visiting, and my parents were always good about incorporating equal times for learning and for running around.
Our trips slowly got more focused as we got older–we went to Prince Edward Island when my sister and I loved Anne of Green Gables, for example–and my sister and I were also slowly allowed more input into where we were going.
I helped plan my graduation trip to England and Wales, and that trip made me realize how much I loved planning excursions!
Finally: What is your best tip for making a trip memorable?
Try to do a variety of things on your trip. While I love history and literature, I do my best to incorporate other stuff into my visits as well, including hikes, ziplining, or just relaxing on a beach. That balance will allow you to try a little bit of everything the area has to offer, and you might find something new to love that you wouldn’t have tried otherwise!
If you want to read more of Natalie’s stories, be sure to visit her website: Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown
Find all the previous interviews here.
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