My wanderlust started a long time ago and more recently has reached near obsession level – I don’t plan to slow down anytime soon. My father worked for Mary Kay Cosmetics for about 25 years. Yes, that Mary Kay with the big hair and the pink cadillac but no, my dad never drove a pink car. He did actually know Ms. Mary Kay herself and even traveled with her. He said she was a real hoot and very down to earth but with a business acumen that was really intimidating, especially for a woman in that day and age.
He worked in the international division for the company for most of his career and helped them open office locations and sales efforts all over the world, which meant that he traveled a lot. Like, a ridiculous amount. He’s executive platinum for life with American Airlines. My mom got to tag along with him for a few of these trips as well.
When my parents or dad came back from one of their Mary Kay trips, I couldn’t wait to see what they brought back – they always had suitcases full of exciting things from foreign countries that I had never even heard about. I specifically remember a gaucho lasso from Argentina, a gold medallion necklace blessed by a monk in Thailand, a kangaroo pelt from Australia and wooden clog shoes from Holland (which hurt like hell, by the way). I think that is what really stoked my interest in travel because these items seemed so exotic to me and my parents would always explain the items to us, how they found them, where they were, etc… I remember my mom showing me her pictures of the floating markets in Singapore and Thailand, temples in Japan, castles all over Europe and the Andes mountains in Peru. My mother was an avid photographer (my grandparents owned a photography studio so it’s in the blood).
At any rate, I never traveled all that much when I was young. I think my parents traveled so much for work that my dad mostly wanted to do driving trips when he was on personal vacation so we often drove down to the gulf coast though we also did driving trips to many national parks, including the Grand Canyon and many trips to the Rocky Mountains. Probably our biggest trip with my parents was one week in Hawaii when I was 14 or so (and was in that horrible “I hate everything” teenage phase so I didn’t appreciate it at all).
In college, I never went anywhere. I was broke. I was also not a Spring Break party girl and I couldn’t afford to be one even if I wanted to do so. My parents felt college was for studying and that meant studying here, not abroad. I never did the Europe summer backpack trip, I never went to Cancun with my friends and I never did an exchange program. The whole time, I was dying to visit Europe so I finally got the chance to do my very first trip overseas when I graduated law school. I think I was 26. I was instantly in love with traveling from that moment on and I haven’t stopped since.
Since college, Steve and I have traveled a lot and we really enjoy having experiences though we’re not opposed to plopping our rear ends down on a beach for a week either. We’ve done the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Oktoberfest in Munich, an African safari in Kenya, the souks of Marrakech, hiking on Vancouver Island, visited many islands in the Caribbean and have been all over the United States but we feel like we’re just getting started. We still haven’t been to South America or Asia yet.
Steve and I are dinks (double income, no kids) so we have disposable money to spend on trips and we try to make them nice and enjoyable. We work hard and we play hard. I get a lot of “another vacation??!!??” comments from people but I’ve learned to ignore them. Most of those come from people that either (i) don’t like to travel much or (ii) have kids and that’s where/how they spend their time off. Nothing wrong with that but I just have a different life and priorities right now and we plan to keep traveling and seeing the world in between work and responsibilities.
For us, at the end of it all, I’d rather have a lot of great memories and photographs than a big house full of meaningless objects or designer handbags. I do wish there was more encouragement and acceptance of taking vacation time in the U.S. Americans leave far too much vacation time on the table, IMO. I take what they give me and I’m unapologetic about it and I realize how lucky I am to be able to travel at all so I am grateful for that as well. As long as my health and financial well-being give me the ability to travel, I will do so.
Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll be slowing down just yet. We’re off to Oregon, Cancun and Santa Barbara later this year and we’re looking at New Orleans and the Virgin Islands for 2018 with (fingers crossed) a trip to Europe or maybe Asia late next summer. Keep on truckin’.