I don’t need luxury to have the time of my life.
When I was a little girl, I was raised by a single dad. We did not have money to spare, we were pinching pennies every day. The first vacation I remember taking, I was in first grade on Christmas break. My dad told me, totally out of the blue, that we were going to Disney World! I was over the moon happy! We lived in Oklahoma at the time, so it was no short trip. We packed up the car and drove all the way from Oklahoma to Florida, at least an 18 hour drive, stopping in Louisiana to pick up my uncle. My dad drove through KFC or Popeyes, don’t remember which one, and he got a large bucket of fried chicken. That bucket of meat was going to be our food for the whole trip. It was cheap and filling.
We made it to Disney World and looked for a hotel around the park. Remember, this was an impromptu trip. He didn’t have a single reservation booked. There was no internet back then, and why would my dad spend extra money on long distance phone calls, when he could just pull up to a place and make the reservation in person, right? Yeah, there was no plan. So, we walked into the massive, wondrous, incredible Disney Resort. They politely informed us the nightly rate…and it was more money than my dad budgeted for the entire trip. The front desk clerk also informed him that every hotel anywhere near the park would be at least $100 a night, but most likely a lot more. My dad only brought $275 cash for 2 adults and 1 child for the whole trip. Unfazed, we simply started driving away from the park, checking on prices along the way. The farther we got, the cheaper the hotels were. Once we got about an hour away, we finally hit the jackpot: a tiny roach-motel within our price range (and also scarily reminiscent of the Norman Bates Motel). It was only $25 a night and we all shared a room. IT WAS PERFECT. We happily gnawed on that fried chicken for about a day and a half, had snickers for breakfast and ate cheap Cotton Candy for lunch. After all, why not? It was vacation!
When we made it to the park, it was so crowded, the lines long and the wait intense. Again, we were unfazed. We stood in every single line for as long as we needed. We rode every. single. ride. We LOVED it!!! At one point, we stood in line for well over an hour just for Space Mountain, but we simply didn’t care. We were having a ball. At one point, when we were exiting the ride to get back into line all over again, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it started pouring down rain. Torrential downpour. Immediately, everyone scattered like bugs and ran off! I thought to myself, “Why is everyone running away? Because they’re going to get wet? Who cares!” I was not going to let rain get in the way of my Disney adventure. We rode Space Mountain totally uninhibited. We got off then got right back on probably 15 times, over and over, laughing and filled with pure joy, while everyone else crowded and hid for cover, clusters of horde masses sheepishly hovered in restaurants or quickly retreating to the luxury of their cush resort hotels. I was only about 6 years old at the time, but I remember this trip like it was yesterday. This one trip ignited my love and passion for adventure.
As the years passed, my dad started to become more successful and we could afford better hotels, and even fly to our destinations. It was because of this trip I deeply appreciate travel and the value of an impromptu escapade. I don’t need reservations. I don’t need a lot of money. I can fly off the cuff knowing a lasting memory can be made. That is something I want to pass on to my children.
That trip taught me to look for opportunities for adventure, rather than letting constraints prevent travel.
I have traveled the world since then. I have seen some of the most beautiful places on Earth–Paualu (Micronesia), Bora Bora, Uganda, New Zealand, Dominican, all over Europe, our great nation, just to name a few…but the trip to Disney World with my father, with no plan, no money, no reservations, fueled only by a few bucks and a desire to have fun, was by far my favorite vacation memory of my childhood.
So now as mom, I work hard to take my kids on at least 3 trips a year, and it doesn’t need to be fancy. I’ll drive an hour from my house and camp in a tent. I don’t need a plan or a big budget. I don’t even need a lot of time. All I need is an idea. I make it a point to give my children that same sense of adventure that isn’t limited to financial means or logistics. I want to teach them that fun can be had no matter what, all you need is a sense of adventurous spirit.
SO just GO. Get out the front door right now. An adventure awaits! You’ll never know what magic can happen, what lifelong memories you will have and your kids will remember. Travel creates memories that last a lifetime and adventure is only a matter of perspective.