Memorable Travel Experience Essay
It’s better to spend money on “experiences such as travel over material goods” Cornell University’s researchers tell us.
“[P]eople get more retrospective enjoyment and satisfaction from their experiential purchases than from their material purchases”
I completely agree.
Yes, it would be nice to see every day an updated and gleaming bathroom or kitchen, but even though I hate the wallpaper in our kitchen, and our bathroom could use updating as well, I get much more enjoyment from reminiscing our recent trips, to the Alhambra, London, or Portugal.
I love traveling back in my mind to places I’ve been to, especially when I look at the pictures. Keeping the memories alive is one of the reasons I blog about our trips – it lets me relive that moment I smiled when I saw the Trafalgar Square, or the time we had leisurely breakfasts on the balcony of one of the places we stayed at.
Even when I look at old photos, going back to when I was five, I still remember bits and pieces of those vacations.
The photo at the beginning of this post is from one of my family’s annual trips to the Baltic Sea. The photo is black and white, but I still remember the pastel hues of my dress, the red and white of my sandals, and my polka dot red hat.
I also remember the warmth of the sun and the wind on my skin, and the beautiful sunset.
A bit older photos don’t bring as many memories. I recall very little of my family’s winter vacation in the Karkonosze part of the Polish Tatras. I do not remember the dog, but I do remember sledding with my dad.
A recent #WeekendWanderlust chat on Travel Memories wasn’t especially hopping, but when I asked for travel memories from my fellow travelers on Facebook, I got quite a few replies.
Here’s what they shared:
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From Anna, who blogs on Aspects of Style, and tweets as @designedbyann:
General Travel Memories
I started travelling abroad aged 5, and I vaguely remember riding up the escalators inside the Atomium in Brussels. I have many unforgettable memories, but I can’t pick just one! I remember the first time I flew over the Atlantic; a new world opened up in front of my eyes. I remember the evening that I got to New York City (by train from Washington DC) and looking up and seeing the Empire State Building. It was magical. I also have memories that I want to forget, like a sailing trip from Athens to Mykonos. The party was rather odd: a mix of couples and bachelors, which although good friends on the shore, didn’t really bond on the boat. Oh did a mention that we spent a whole day of sailing with high winds: 7 on the Beaufort scale! That trip taught me something at least: pick your travel mates wisely. Very wisely!
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From Penny Sadler, who blogs on Adventures of a Carry-on, and tweets as @pennysadler:
Most Exhilarating Travel Memory
One of my most adventurous and exhilarating travel experiences was ballooning over Napa Valley. I was a little nervous about it at first, but as I watched the ballloon filling with air I could feel my apprehension melting away, replaced by anticipation and excitement.
Once we were all in the balloon and it began to gently rise along with the sun, I can only describe how I felt as giddy. I guess it was the rush of adrenaline, and it lasted throughout our hour long flight over Calistoga. It’s an experience I will never forget and can’t wait to do it again.
You can read a full account of that trip in “Flying High Over Napa Valley With Calistoga Balloons.”
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From Tamara, who blogs on Postcards and Passports, and tweets as @postandpassport:
Craziest Travel Memory
In 2010, our entire family went to Madrid for a week. My son, who is fascinated with all things medieval, decided he wanted to buy a souvenir dagger in Toledo (which is legendary for its handmade swords and armor). He found something he loved and bought it. It was wrapped in thick paper and placed in his messenger bag for the remainder of the day. Before we returned to our apartment, we went to visit the Reina Sofia Museum. Little did we know there would be a metal detector in an art museum! We all put our bags on the conveyor belt and held our breath as each bag went through the scanner. Could we get in trouble for having a souvenir dagger with us? As luck would have it, the security staff happened to look away as my son’s bag went through the scanner, and we all silently breathed a sigh of relief.
But this is not the end of this story.
At the end of our week in Spain, we were supposed to fly to France. But all the flights were cancelled when the traffic controllers went on strike. We had always planned to pack that dagger in a checked bag on a plane, but now we were traveling on a train–where all the bags stay with the passengers and go through a metal detector. We couldn’t be carrying a weapon. But my son didn’t want to lose his 70 euro dagger, either. With only minutes till the train left, we decided to rent a storage locker and have friends in Madrid pick it up for us and ship it home to the U.S. But first, we had to go through security in the locker room. So in her best Spanish, my daughter explained that we had a souvenir we were placing in a locker for someone else to pick up. Still wrapped in its paper packaging, we placed it on the conveyor belt, picked it up at the other end and put it in a locker. The guards never said anything, and we knew we were receiving divine help. About four months later, my son got his dagger back, and we still have it. It makes for a great story, but you didn’t see the beads of perspiration! If you just have to have a dagger, have the store you purchase it from ship it home for you! Enough said.
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From Sarah, who blogs on The Cash Odyssey, and tweets as @TheCashOdyssey:
Worst Travel Memory
A travel memory that makes me blush occurred on a ferry in Greece. I went with 5 friends from college our first semester of freshman year.
After a 2-day marathon tour of Athens, we decided to get some R&R in the Greek Isles, and of course, had to arrive by boat. I enjoy kayaks, row boats, paddle boats, even duck boats (especially duck boats), but I HATE ferries. Our method of transportation? Ferry.
Every time I board a ferry, my stomach feels as if it’s being stretched and torqued into a balloon animal, a needlessly nauseating experience. On this particular journey, my friends and I began discussing how tuna in a can is made (don’t ask – I have no idea why). I passionately pleaded that tuna in a can is raw. And I was absolutely wrong. So everyone was annoyed with me and everyone else, while my bad humor worsened as I searched for the horizon, stomach rolling in sync with the waves.
Though this ferry ride was long and miserable, the people on that trip are still my best friends, and I will never forget that tuna in a can is not raw. Who knew vomit-inducing boat rides to paradise islands were the perfect recipe for lasting friendships?
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From Karilyn, who blogs on No Back Home, and tweets as @ciantravels:
Memory of Scents
When thinking of memories one often forgets the senses. Smell has always been a big one for me. With certain scents I can be immediately transported back in time to a specific place.
Chinese incense immediately take me back to innumerable Buddhist temples in China. Diesel fuel transports me back to rural villages in India. But the most long lasting and unaltered scent memory I have is with frankincense and Dubai.
Frankincense is omnipresent in Dubai. It burns in small shops. Clings to people and their clothes as they walk by. It is everywhere. And I have now been on an eternal hunt to replicate that smell at home. I have perfumes, a body wash with saffron and patchouli and actual frankincense rocks that all remind me of Dubai, but nothing that replicates the exact smell of Dubai.
Is it the smell that makes me happy or the feelings of happiness I had while in Dubai that I associate with the scent? Who knows, but I love it!
Tell me YOUR story!
What is YOUR earliest, most exhilarating, craziest, worst, or senses-based travel memory? Would you be willing to share in the comments below?
Invitation to #WeekendWanderlust Link Up
#WeekendWanderlust, hosted by Chris & Heather from A Brit and a Southerner, Jessi & Tara from Outbound Adventurer, Ashley from A Southern Gypsy, Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren, and yours truly, is a collaborative effort to share travel blog posts, and to discuss all travel-related things.
The hosts organize each week a link up through which travel bloggers from around the world can promote their posts, in exchange for a promise to give some attention to other travel bloggers. (One of the rules for linking up is to comment on three linked up posts.)
If the link up is still open, feel free to add a link to one of your posts below, then comment on three linked up posts. And I welcome comments as well, of course!
An InLinkz Link-up
Date of Trip: August 2010
My Best Trip in My life!!!
I’m happy to tell you about my recent trip to Morocco. We travel as a group of 8 (4 families with teenage children), always the six of us, and every year we go to a different place. Money permitting, we love to travel, but we tend to stay away from organized tours in the usual sense of the word since so often they tend to protect from really getting into the places, skipping from one tourist attraction to the next. This year we decided to go to Morocco, mainly because it seemed inexpensive, but after the vacation we were definitely in love with the place.
We flew into Marrakech and were impressed immediately upon arrival by the airport building: its incredible roof outside is like lace and the sun shines through it, casting beautiful shadows on the pavement: there already was an incredible atmosphere greeting us. We took a taxi for 6 (a minivan) and for 15 euros were taken to Marrakech, with hundreds of scooters speeding around us! Our hotel was right off the Jeema el-Fna – an orderly chaos of smells, colors and sounds, by day and into the night! We hadn’t yet learned to not fall for taking pictures of guys with cobras (after you do they demand money), but that is how it started! We spent 2 days in Marrakech visiting the traditional tourist destinations (the souk, the Saadian toumbs, the Majorelle Gardens, the Tower of Hassan II and so forth) before we were met by our travel guides (sahara-magic .com) that we had selected for the real tour: Hassan ghana of sahara-magic(he speaks 5 languages, and is half Tuareg, half Berber) and said (he absolutely doesn’t speak any foreign language but drives fine!). From the outset, we found Hassan an incredible person, full of joy, outgoing, but never intrusive.
We left for Ouarzazate where we visited the Kasbah Ait Benhaddou (a lot of movies were made there) and then off to the Todra Gorges. Here we stayed in a hotel built in the caves! How wonderful! If you want I can give you its name. The next legs of our trip were the classic ones: Erfoud, Merzouga, Rissani, Zagora and Ouarzazate: you can do them with any tour operator, but what we experienced is unforgettable. At Erfoud we had lunch at home with Hassan’s family: What a welcome! We ate couscous the way they make it and drank REAL mint tea, his sister’s friends were doing henna tattoos, and did it to us, too. The next evening we headed for a desert oasis on camels, to spend the night in a berber tent distinctly counting every star in the Milky Way (well, almost all). How can we forget, while at his family’s home, how Roger ‘vomited’ from having drunk milk in his morning coffee?!?!? But that mishap actually led to an interesting experience! Hassan ‘s mother massaged special points of Roger’s wrists and feet with ‘magic’ oil, and incredibly, somehow, after a quarter of an hour, Roger was good as new.
And how can we forget our stop on the way to Zagora, stopping to take a picture, when suddenly 2 children leaped out from nowhere offering a pony made of mud, they had made with their hands, in exchange for some candy! And when they accompanied us through the tiny dark inner passageways of a small town in the south, revealing the meaning of poverty, enabling us to quietly and respectfully peek into the everyday life of people in southern Morocco. And how can we forget our lunch, eating Berber pizza, in a small rug factory, sitting in the midst of all those dancing colors and so many types of fabric! I could go on for hours recounting the feelings, more than the places we visited. Thanks to Hassan(organizing everything down to details like cool drinking water, snacks, SD cards for my camera and making us always feel safe in places that are so strange to us in culture and language) and to said, who, though silent and not speaking our language and understanding little, was an incredible and fun travelling companion.
Feelings, understanding the land and the people of the country we are visiting are what we seek when we travel and that is definitely what we got this time. And our children thank us for it, too.