Memories Highs and Lows of Traveling

Growing up, summertime memories are scattered with images of crazy and sometimes disastrous vacations mother would organize for us. From being rescued by a Canadian tour bus while stranded roadside during a major hurricane to sharing a seat, while sick with the flu, with complete strangers on a steamy bus ride to Acapulco. The reason? My mother was cheap – well, to put it in better words, she was “financially savvy.” But yeah, we were poor. The lack of monetary resources led to a series of shoestring getaways that, while sometimes traumatic, left us with memories that lasted a lifetime.

The best part is that the worst the escapade was, the more fun we had.

My mom, a single-mother of five, in her best attempts to keep us from joining the Sinaloa Cartel, faced six weeks every summer forced to plan activities to keep us busy. She was famous for recruiting us to sell tortillas and churros at the local park – and we would fight for a sales spot, of course, for mom was generous to whomever sold the most. Our getaways was the only way she’d stay sane, I suppose, so most of our travels began in Mexico – cheap travel, by all standards, but even cheaper if you commute with the locals.

In India, the cheapest traveling method is by train, and oh, man are the trains insanely overcrowded! So there you have it, in Mexico, we traveled by train everywhere. The silver bullet, they called it. Cheap, friendly AND FUN! Every kid needs to travel by train at least once in their lifetime. They need to appreciate its history, the power and how wonderful it is. We’d stick our heads out the moving train, walked freely from car to car and enjoyed the countryside and ocean views.

Our vacations in Mexico were short-lived, however. Mom’s view of the country’s social division, rising crime and its lack of support for single mothers helped us branch out into the U.S. Crossing the border made us even poorer which, by the power of science, meant 100 times more fun. We ate nothing but McDonald’s, traveled by Greyhound and swam in our underwear everywhere. Disneyland, California beaches and desert attractions, parks and museums. What more could we ask for?

For a long time I thought worry-free vacations were non-existent and would never provide joy for the inexperienced traveler. On the contrary, all vacations need a little spirit, and the only way to make it more memorable is to sprinkle a little action, humor and excitement – and travel on the cheap – with the locals.

That’s how these experiences molded me and that’s how I want the kids to remember them.

Flashbacks of being rescued that one stormy night: Safely onboard the Canadian tour bus, my mother sitting next to me and her smiling face as she points out the window to clearing skies and twinkling stars – and then suddenly we both spot one falling! We make a wish together… After arriving at the bus terminal in Acapulco we lazily stroll two-blocks to meet the Pacific ocean and suddenly, all thoughts of being sick are gone.

Good memories.



Yosemite National Park control burn

Experiencing new and exciting things on your way could stick as good memories.

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