Vacationers: Let’s Keep Going

There’s little doubt the economic crisis is going to be bad for the travel industry. But I’m determined that it won’t stop me from vacationing, And I believe I can manage that, even if my family’s economic situation deteriorates sharply.

I grew up as one of seven children in a hard-working middle-class family. I never got on an airplane or stayed in a hotel until I was an adult. (And now I blog about airlines and tourism. Go figure.)

But as a kid, I traveled a lot with my family. One of my earliest memories is of Expo ’67 in Montreal. We stayed in a private home with a French Canadian couple.

Another time we rented a beach cottage, but otherwise we camped. We had the biggest tent Sears sold — a huge 10-person canvas job with a zillion poles. With the whole family at work on the poles and ropes, we could set it up in about 20 minutes.

We camped all over New England and eastern Canada. We went as far north as Prince Edward Island and as far south as North Carolina. We swam in the ocean and paddled canoes in lakes and streams.

We visited historic sites and museums, including the Smithsonian. I fell in love with Abraham Lincoln on his big chair. I bought a copy of the Consitution.

We had a big Ford station wagon so full of people we had to put the camping gear on the roof. If we stopped along the way to eat, we had a picnic that Mom had packed. And we had fun. And we got to know our country, at least the parts within driving distance. And we got to meet people from all over the world.

And we had experiences, yes we did. Once it rained for a week. Once a hurricane came close enough that the wind made the walls of the tent inflate and deflate. It was like sitting inside a giant lung. Once, at the age of 4, I made a determined effort to wander off into the woods. (To this day: no sense of direction)

I remember those days – those trips – as among the happiest of my life. I reflect with some guilt on the cost to my parents. There was little relaxing on the beach for them. Mom had to keep cooking and Dad had to keep driving. Setting up and breaking down the camp was a big job.  

Now, my only child is grown and my husband and I have been farther afield. We’ve been to Europe, Russia and Latin America. Last spring I visited a corner of Asia when I flew into eastern Turkey.

And I’ve been farther in this country — to the West coast more times than I can count, to the beautiful Southwest, to Chicago and Minneapolis and Hawaii. But there’s so much I haven’t seen yet in this vast country, even in New England, even in Connecticut.

My husband and I still love to go to Boston, Montreal, Vermont, New York, New Haven. There are thousands of places we could drive to, and haven’t driven to. Sure, we’d still like to go to Greece, Italy and Thailand. But if we can’t do that, we’ll go somewhere closer to home.

We even have a tent. We haven’t camped for the past few years, but we still know how. I had the best teachers you can imagine.


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