Passport to Overseas Travel

My passion is travel. I love to go whenever and however I get a chance. I have to make concessions when I make travel plans because I am only half of the whole that makes up the partnership of my marriage. And because I kind of like the guy and enjoy having him along, I am willing to make those concessions. So until I can convince my other half that traveling through the Sahara on a camel would actually be fun, I guess that mode of travel is out. But I will keep working on him and maybe before I get too old to get on a camel I might just convince him.

Until then, for his sake, we use the more conventional means of transportation to get to our destinations. And even that has been a journey. When we were first married he had only been out of the state he was born in a couple of times in his life, and both of those were on family vacations he took as a kid. While I, on the other hand, had made several out of state trips by the time I reached adulthood courtesy of my thumb. Yes, even before I turned 18 I had the travel bug, and since I was an unemployed kid, I had to hitchhike to get where I wanted to go. It is not really a bad way to travel; well, at least it wasn’t in the seventies when I was doing it. You meet some interesting people that way, not all of them good, but not all of them bad either. But nowadays I have my own car and I can afford a plane ticket so that is the way I travel now.

I have had to slowly introduce my spouse to travel. For our honeymoon we went to Reno, which was out of state. His best friend wanted to know how I talked him into it. I did not realize there was anything special going on at the time. Over the years of raising kids, we often climbed in the car for a trip. It was what we could afford and I was happy that I was getting to go somewhere. I could not claim to be well traveled, but I did leave the state at least twice a year.

Fast forward a few years to when I decided it would be a good idea for me to quit smoking. It’s a nasty habit, cost a lot of money and I wanted to quit. But when you are a smoker it is not so easy to just lay them down. It is a physical addiction and I finally got smart and realized that. So I put myself on a plan and set up some goals and rewards, trying my best to make sure I would succeed. Did I mention I have a passion for traveling? For my six month reward I wrote “go to Hawaii.” It was something I had always wanted to do and never thought I would get to do. My husband was less than impressed with my goal. Actually, he wanted nothing to do with it. He said it was too expensive and he did not want to get on a plane to go on vacation. He saw nothing wrong with taking a trip that we could drive to as my reward, but Hawaii was out.

I thought about that for a few days and realized that if I were going to succeed at my quit smoking campaign I was going to need a reward that meant something to me, otherwise it would not be important enough to get me through the bad times ahead. So I went back to my husband and told him “If I quit smoking for six months I will have saved enough to pay for my trip to Hawaii, so I am going. You can come with me or not.” Turns out that was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Not only did I succeed in my endeavor to quit smoking, I also succeeded in infecting my husband with the travel bug. As soon as the plane started to taxi down the runway his fear of flying disappeared. After a week of vacation he was hooked; first of all on Hawaii, and second of all on traveling.

Fast forward a few more years. I now have a granddaughter in junior high. She wants to go on a school sponsored trip to Italy. I am jealous, since Venice is another place I have always dreamed of visiting. Come to find out that if you are willing to pay your own way, you are encouraged to travel with your child or grandchild. I was very excited. We spent a year doing fundraisers for the kids to earn money to pay for their trip and planning the trip. I could not talk my husband into going. He did not want to leave the states.

Our trip to Italy was fabulous! We spent twelve days touring Italy on a bus and I had a great time. It opened my eyes as to why some people are afraid of traveling outside the States. I had a guide with me for the entire trip to help check me into hotels, get around and deal with the language. The only time I did not have a guide with me were a couple of hours each day of free time. It made me appreciate all the more the tourists from other countries that I encounter in my home state. You know, the ones that ask for directions in words you barely recognize as English? It is tough to make yourself understood when talking to someone who does not understand your language. It also debunked the myth for me that other countries hate Americans. In my experience, it is just not true. No matter where you go, even main street of your own home town, you will encounter people that do not like you. Sometimes it is justified and sometimes it is not, but it is the same everywhere. I am sure there are countries where sentimentalism is strong against Americans, but it is not that way everywhere. I ran into quite a few Italians that were happy to meet me and were very helpful when I go lost.

Since I had made it to Italy and back without getting myself killed my husband was a little more inclined to listen when I talked about going other places in the world. A few months later, I talked him into a trip to Mexico. We went to Cancun for New Years. I got to visit the ruins of Chitchen Itza and I had a great time, although neither my husband nor myself were terribly impressed with Cancun. But we did gain some experience of travel outside the United States. My husband found that it was as I had told him, not everyone hates American’s and people are willing to be friendly.

Last year we had friend that was working temporarily in Ireland. He had a house with an extra bedroom and invited us over. We took him up on it. Two years ago I would never have convinced my husband to make the trip, but this time when I suggested it he immediately agreed. I was shocked but very pleased. It was close to our twentieth anniversary, so we made it an anniversary trip. We rented a car for a few days and went out on our own. Our friends’ place was right outside Dublin, so we drove to the other side of Ireland and down to the south and back up to Dublin. Ever since I was a little girl I have dreamed of seeing a castle. In Ireland I saw several; not only saw them, but got to go in them. I even got to kiss the blarney stone at the top of Blarney Castle and I have the picture to prove it.

Have I mentioned I have a passion for travel? I am looking forward to many more trips abroad. There are so many great places I want to visit. There are so many great things I look forward to seeing. I am very pleased that my husband is now infected with the travel bug too, since he makes a pretty good travel companion now that he has gotten over his trepidation of leaving the United States. When we first got our passports I am sure he thought the only thing we would ever use them for was going to Canada. I am so glad he was wrong.

So if you haven’t already, go get yourself a passport. If you feel a little intimidated about leaving your own country, just realize that is natural and don’t let it hold you back. If you fear how you will be treated in a country not your own there are some things you can do to lessen the fear. First, if it is your first trip out of the country, pick a country that is known to be friendly to Americans, like Canada. They also speak the same language so there won’t be any language barriers to worry about. If you want to go to a country that does not speak the same language, first realize that if it is a country that gets a lot of American visitors you will most likely find quite a few people that will know some English. But just in case, why not learn a few words before you go? It is always a good idea to know how to ask for the police, the hospital and the bathroom. It is also a good idea to know something of the culture before you go. For one thing, that way you may prevent yourself from making a cultural mistake, but also people everywhere are proud of their heritage and they will more warmly welcome you if they know you took the time to learn something about them before you came to visit.

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