As many of you know, my mom passed away recently. Just before she passed, she got to take a couple of trips – first was Disneyland and splashing around on the beach in Los Angeles. Then she went to Paris, one of her favorite cities, as well as taking a train trip to Germany to visit our family’s hometown and some great castle towns and tiny villages.
Not as frequent of a traveler as many, my mom did instill in me some practical lessons in travel that I’d like to pass on to you. She would have been slightly embarrassed, but would have appreciated it nonetheless.
Luggage: You get what you pay for.
Mom always said cheap luggage is painful. I remember when my cousin had a suitcase with a couple of dead wheels mid-trip in Germany. We dragged that suitcase so far the broken wheel half-melted and I expected the damned thing to catch fire. Most of us are hard on luggage – it’s hard not to be – but it’s well worth reading the reviews and not skipping out for luggage with decent wheels and a good zipper.
My addition: For goodness sake, stop packing so much!
Research: It’s worth the time investment.
I don’t know how my mom did it, but she always had the craziest suggestions on our travels, and they were always worth it. For example, in western Germany, she wanted to try “spaghetti ice cream” (that’s vanilla ice cream, strawberry sauce, and white chocolate sprinkles – all prepared to look like spaghetti). I had never heard of it, nor had anyone else I knew, but it was certainly the highlight of that trip to Germany. I can think of so many other random things Mom used to come up with for our itineraries – she loved to spend the time to find the good stuff, especially food.
My addition: If you’re short on time, pay to get research help.
Pick a variety of places you will enjoy.
I know my mom enjoyed several nice weekends at French Lick Resort, a historic hotel not too far from where she lived that made for the perfect weekend getaway to escape the stresses of life. But Mom also LOVED Europe – every one one of our trips was a real adventure and an absolute riot.
My addition: Affordable luxury travel does not have a minimum distance.
Travel can be scary, but chances are you’ll be ok.
I remember my last travel-ish conversation with Mom – she called me to tell me how excited she was that she’d managed to navigate the LA bus system on her own. Despite being a bit worried, I decided not to tell her that her biggest problem at that moment was not cancer! After her first European jaunt, my mom turned fearless on her travels. Once, in France, she walked up to an ice cream stand and in perfect French, ordered a cone. I asked her where that came from – she doesn’t speak French – and she just shrugged.
My addition: Let’s face it, most people’s perception of risk is wrong. You’re more likely to be in a car accident on the way to the airport from home than you are being kidnapped, murdered, or even laughed at by a Parisian waiter, on your vacation.
There’s no excuse for putting off doing the things you want to do.
My mom passed away just 7 days after she got home from Paris. Maybe she knew that fate was at hand – or maybe she didn’t. But I do know that she ached and longed to get back to the City of Light for years, and I am forever thankful that she accomplished her task. There is no excuse – if there’s something you want to do, whether that is travel or something else, do it. There’s no excuse. You might not have tomorrow.
Thanks for the tips, Mom. You’ll be missed.