What Has Been Your Greatest Inspiration For Traveling?

Inspire - to make (someone) want to do something; to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create; to cause (something) to happen or be created; to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)

People have been inspired to travel for many different reasons. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned traveler, what ignited the first spark?

Posted by Jeanine
Pacific NW, USA
112 posts

One Sunday morning in 2005 my husband and I were watching Travel With Rick Steves. The episode was about the Cinque Terre. When it was over, I looked at him and said "let's go!". That's all it took. We are getting ready to leave on our 5th trip to Europe in a few weeks. Thanks Rick!

Posted by Lee
1017 posts

For Europe there were several for me, not a single greatest. One was the movie To Catch A Thief -- Grace Kelly and Cary Grant on the Côte d'Azur. I vowed I would get there to see it and I have.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14071 posts

Death of my father at 67 and death of my wife's mother at 47 and a $250 ticket in 72. Don't put off to tomorrow what you can do today.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1618 posts

Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels when I was a grade-schooler. Family car trips to exotic destinations like Montreal, Niagara Falls, Colorado. A family train trip from New Jersey to LA and back when I was 10. Crossing the Atlantic at 18 on a student ship for a year in England, taking a moped to France, and returning on the old Queen Mary. (Yes, there were airplanes in my youth, but I stayed pretty close to the ground till my 20s!)

I appreciate Rick Steves' obvious enthusiasm for travel, especially independent travel, and the way he tries to make it exciting and rewarding. And I appreciate the way most people on this board care about it too.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
2885 posts

I think I was born with itchy feet and destined to travel but it took me a while to get over the ocean - made my first trip to Europe when I was 51 - it's been 17 years and many trips and I won't stop until I run out of money or health (could be soon, you never know). I didn't need an inspiration to travel, just where to travel. I love movies and books and many of them have inspired particular places to go. I still have a quite lengthy bucket list.

My advice to everyone is: "if you want to travel, do it now (or as soon as financially possible), do not wait until it's too late". Too many of my friends and family kept saying they wanted to travel to exotic places but never did and now they are unable to and that is sad. They may die with more money but I will die with more memories.

Posted by stephen
Greeley, co, usa
503 posts

Also Halliburton's other books, especially 'The Royal Road to Romance'. I loved it when he climbed the Matterhorn so he could 'spit a mile'!

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1994 posts

Wonderful books of Egyptian art in my grammar school library. Made my first trip to Egypt in my 20s, and have been back a number of times since then.

And Fra Angelico's art at the convent of San Marco drew me to Europe for the first time.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Wonderful. Thanks all for sharing. Interesting, the diverse inspirations.

I agree, if you can, "do what you love today."

Posted by Karen
507 posts

My family took trips around the US every summer when I was young and that was one of the best times of the year. I loved the adventure of going new places and seeing new things. Or often old things, since I always loved history, and historic sites. Then my junior year of college, a friend suggested we take a trip through Europe over the summer. I never thought that was something that I would be able to do, but then she showed me the details and I realized it would work. We went on that trip, and I was hooked on travel and on Europe. I recently reread a journal I wrote on that trip, and I wrote that I loved traveling and had to find a way to keep traveling. I finally did and when it's time for a trip, it is still one of the best times of year.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
1113 posts

Having an experienced traveler as my supervisor and listening carefully to his colorful stories.

Posted by Jack
Valley Forge, PA
42 posts

I know this sounds like pandering, but my inspiration has been the Rick Steves programming on PBS. I took my wife to London & Paris two years ago, and she loved it (I had been over several times on business) and wants more. Now we're looking at Rick's Best of Europe tour next year for my 60th birthday, and I want to make a European vacation an annual occurrence. She loves to travel, and we've pretty much exhausted the US over the years.

Personally, I want to go to Normandy, the south of France, and the Alpine regions. A recent cancer scare is motivating me all the more.

Posted by Kimberly
Snohomish, WA, United States
43 posts

In 1970 I saw the movie, The Sound of Music. I was living in southern California and my parents were very patriotic to the point of being xenophobia - that there was no place on earth except the USA. I mentioned my desire to go to Europe and my parents thought I was off my rocker. I saw that movie and it touched something so deep in me that created a desire to see where the movie was filmed (or some of it at least). I left home shortly thereafter to work at Yellowstone National Park for two years where I saved every penny to travel to Europe. After traveling throughout Europe, I got itchy feet and knew my life would be centered around international relations and traveling. I have traveled to and lived in Europe throughout the years and have also seen many other far flung geographical locations. But it was the Sound of Music that lite the fire in my bones to travel.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4619 posts

I grew in a family that traveled in the US. We went to the World's Fair in NYC in the 60's traveling from the Midwest. We went to Cape Cod, we explored Wisconsin. We didn't do Disney though. Rather we went to visit friends and see places and see history and culture. Oh, and go swimming and hiking! So, when I learned that even as a biology major I could do two terms in Germany in college i was on it. I persuaded my parents and It was the best trip ever. It taught me I could travel with friends or on my own. I've been traveling ever since.


Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
2639 posts

Marie, I love this idea!

I am echoing several other posters and I feel like it was a combination of things, not just one spark.

-I am the third generation of daughters who love to travel! Grandma loved it, Mom loved it and even though I did not get their sewing genes, I got the itchy foot. Growing up we always did a nice road trip every summer, then a roommate in college suggested we go on an American Express tour to Madrid, Paris and London in 1973. It was about $650+ for 2 weeks including air fare!!

-Now I am back to traveling internationally and agree with others that you must go when you have a chance. Mom, at 95, had a couple of regrets over her life. She was disappointed that never got to the Great Wall and never went on a safari! I want to try to have no regrets.

-This fall I will get to the town near Milan where my GG Grandfather and GGGrandmother emigrated from.

-And yes, I am inspired by books. I love the Regency period and spent some time in Bath last Fall and it was wonderful! It felt like being in a book. I'll go back there!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11064 posts

National Geographic and the Disney Company. I know it goes in and out of fashion to criticize places like Disney World as "fake" (fake? gee, really?), and some cultural snobs accuse the movies of dumbing down European folklore... But please, even as a kid, you knew these things weren't real. But for me, it whet the appetite to visit the real places that all the theme parks and movies were based upon. I had a lifetime desire to visit Norway that sprung from a trip to EPCOT when I was 10, and that wish was finally fulfilled a few years ago.

And... wanting to know what's on the other side of that hill.

Posted by Darcy
Lewiston, Idaho, USA
1548 posts

It's fun to read about everyone's "sparks"; thanks, Marie!
I had just turned 3 (ok, I'll tell, that was in 1954) when my parents and I were transferred to Bangkok for my Dad's work. After Bangkok we moved every couple of years but would return "home" to California once a year.

When I was 8 and we were staying at my maternal grandparents, I asked the 6 year old neighbor girl, "We're moving to Kobe, Japan; where are you moving to next?" Joanne's response, "Huh? We're not moving anywhere." I was completely baffled, I thought everyone moved every year or so!
So, having spent my childhood out of the US and having paternal grandparents who also traveled continuously, I think I was born with the "spark"! Fortunately my husband saw that I couldn't sit still so suggested when our youngest was 5 that I plan a trip back to some of my favorite countries. Because of ETBD's suggestions and philosophy, we're able to travel at least once a year. Thanks, Rick and ETBD!

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1606 posts

I've said this before on this forum, but I'll say it again... For me it was a National Geographic article on Pompeii in fourth grade. I was dying to see it in person. Ironically, after a dozen trips to Europe, I still haven't made it to Pompeii. But it's still on the list!

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

This is great! - Lovely, heartwarming stories. Thanks to all for sharing your traveling sentiments :)

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
526 posts

Oddly enough, it was collecting stamps from all over the world that got me when I was very young. I would sit and dream of what it would be like to be in those far-away places depicted on those stamps. I totally agree that you should travel now and not put it off until it is too late. Already booked a flight in September to hike in the Austrian Alps and the Dolomites with my brother, and of course my seasoned travelling Jack Russell, Thor.

Posted by heather
14 posts

When I was very young, it was the TV show "Big Blue Marble" that every week showed a child's life in a different country. You could also get penpals from other countries and I had both an Italian and Australian friend that I wrote to until high school.

My first trip was to London because I am an Anglophile and loved British TV and literature(especially detectives like Sherlock Holmes. Of course London was much more than I imagined and I fell in love with it.

My other inspiration was taking Spanish classes for 7 years in high school and college. My teachers taught us about the great paintings of Goya,Picasso,El Greco and Velazquez and my favorite teacher talked about her wonderful trip to see the Alhambra and not to miss it. As a midwestern girl, I never dreamt I'd get the opportunity to travel there but a few years back I decided I needed to relearn my rusty Spanish and booked a 2 week vacation to Madrid and Andalusia. Seeing the art work that I had only seen in textbooks was amazing and I only wished I could've told my teachers how they inspired me.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

I am really enjoying reading the stories - the uniqueness and inspirations of family, friends and the dreams of travel brought on by books, schools, T.V. shows, curiosities of the World beyond, the memories of traveling, the gifts triggering the fondness, and the experiences :)

Thanks to all who have shared their memories.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5683 posts

After my parents split up when I was 4, my father was sent to Europe for his job. He spent time in Germany, Spain, and then back to the US but to the Yukon. He would send me gifts from these countries and for me they carried this marvelous sense that things were exotically different outside of Columbus. I had dolls from Spain and Germany, Lederhosen, matching coat and a hat, a flamenco dress, beautiful earrings and necklace and the most special gift of all, a gorgeous black velvet robe from Morocco with the most beautiful gold embroidery on the back, sleeves, and 88 cloth buttons covered in gold thread down the front. (you can tell how much I loved it since I still remember how many buttons it had). Red leather sandals completed the ensemble. From the Yukon came beaded items, ivory jewelry, seal skin muk-luks and a bear rug. I gloried in these things and loved touching them.

Always wanted to come to Europe to visit and now I have been living here for over 27 years.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
766 posts

I would have to blame books for wanting me to travel. Madeline made me yearn for Paris, Anne of Green Gables for PEI, Winnie the Pooh for England, The Number One Ladies Detective Agency for Botswana, Diary of Anne Frank for Amsterdam, ...

Posted by Wil
IJzendijke, The Netherlands
667 posts

Some twenty years ago I worked at the office of a steel construction company. During lunch time the guys of the job preparation always joined us. One of them was a very good storyteller and started talking about his travel adventures to America and South-East Asia. Machu Picchu, Bogota, Siem Reap, Hearst Castle looked so so far away. These lively stories triggered my interest to go to one of those far away destinations once I hoped the opportunity was there. But I didn’t wanted to dream long, so the next year my first long distance journey to Florida already happened.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5047 posts

Hard to say but those certainly responsible for raising my level of curiousity, who "ignited the first spark," about realistically going to Europe are: certain teachers and professors in college, my father, (a US Army vet in the war), certain classes I had in college, certain friends and fellow college backpacker students who had gone solo over there in '69, '70, who gave me the inspiration that if they could do it (solo) so could I. So, I went over on a 12 week charter flight, landing at London Gatwick from Oakland, after 11-12 hr flight, and returning from Amsterdam, a great time after saving up for a year to make this trip possible. It was June 1971 and I was 21., just another US backpacker student going over.

Posted by andi
franktown, colorado
483 posts

My Grandma took me to Europe, just the two of us, one summer in the late 1950s when I was twelve. That wonderful and most special experience has inspired me to travel with my own children and grandchildren. They have now traveled on three RS tours with, hopefully, more to come. I think I have encouraged them to love to travel just as she encouraged and inspired me.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14110 posts

In 1987 I went to Brussels on a business trip, and the companny's salesman there told me that as far back as he could trace it (10 generations), his family had always live in Brussels. Wow.

I was born in California, raised in Seattle, spent time in Pennsysvania, now live in Colorado. My father was born in Pennsylvania, raised in California. My grand-father was born in Ohio, raised in Pennsylvania, etc. What a difference. In Europe people have an attachment to the land, a sense of belonging.

Later in that trip, in Germany, I met relatives with whom I share a common ancestor in the 1700s. My family history in that town goes back to the 1600's, maybe farther. Although I try to speak "High" German, I know it's not the language of my ancestors, who probably spoke only their dialect.

Anyway, when I go back and travel in Germany, I feel an attachment to the land, an affinity with the people, and I try to speak the language of the country, even though my ancestors didn't.

That is my inspiration for traveling.

Posted by Kathi
141 posts

High school social studies and college history courses always fascinated me, that's all it took (as well as my kids grown and out the door and now I actually have disposable income!) Took a whirlwind, 11 country 30 day tour 2 years ago, the UK in two weeks, and the wheels are already turning for a month in 2016 ( him, perhaps a couple weeks in 2015...) The travel bug bit hard!

Posted by Kathleen
97 posts

"What a difference. In Europe people have an attachment to the land, a sense of belonging."

Ugh. I can think of nothing more torturous than living in the same place my father, my father's father, my father's father's father etc. lived in.

I want to make my own footprints and live in my own space. But hey, that's just me. :-)

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9300 posts

Trying to get some idea of the European history that we don't have in N. America. Seeing different cultures and trying to appreciate the differences.
Visiting Europe can be an adult's playground; you won't see the Grand Canyon but you will see the Orsay.
And so much more that can't easily be put into words.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8174 posts

My inspiration is probably that I'm eager to go everywhere, see and know everything (even though it's not possible). I'm really driven by a quest for knowledge - language, music, art, history, commerce, people, anything.

Like Frank, I realize it's a race against time. I have too many places I want to go to reasonably see them all before I'm either dead or in too frail of health to keep going.

I once thought I'd get independently wealthy then travel. Now I realize, I'd wait forever if I waited for that to happen. :-)

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
1046 posts

My spark was ignited in March of 1979. I won a 10 day trip to Dublin, Ireland. Also watching the Open Championship with my father started my infatuation with golf in the British Isles.

Posted by Susan
Columbus, USA
145 posts

I think I was born with wanderlust in my soul. I am a teachers kid (both parents) every summer my dad planned amazing family vacations to see something other than corn fields. Dad also subscribed to National Geographic, and I loved looking at the pictures (this also inspired my shutterbug obsession). I was an International Studies major (German too!) in college. My grandfather giving us phrases in German sparked the second major. I had the amazing opportunity in both HS an College to travel to Germany and the travel bug bit me HARD. Now that I am working on genealogy, the desire to visit the places where my ancesters lived is huge. In fact, last summer my husband's family had a reunion in Germany and we met over 70 German "cousins" we never knew we had and were able to see his great-great-great-great-grandfather's grave near Tuebingen.

Posted by LeeB.
211 posts

I used to write away for travel brochures when I was young and upon receipt, they definitely whetted my appetite. And I'd have to agree with those people who mentioned books and movies.

Posted by Joann
Dartmouth, MA, USA
138 posts

Annual family road trips as a kid, lots of summer reading, my father's death at 60, breast cancer at 36. The only sad part is, my husband of 28 years still doesn't understand or share my passion - so I take my kids!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5047 posts

Yes, the travel broshures. I used mainly travel broshures from the German National Tourist Office in SF to plan and decide on some of the places I would be visiting on my first trip.

Posted by Roy
East Alabama
1062 posts

In my sophomore year in college, along with German language courses, I took a course in European history, which stirred my interest enough to turn out for a talk one evening by a couple of students who had participated in a work-exchange program the previous summer. (The college did not have a study abroad program at that time.) Suddenly the impossible seemed possible. We were a working class family but my parents came up with enough money to pay the $500 fee, which included airfare, and that summer I found myself working at a metalworks factory in Germany for two months, saving practically every mark and then traveling for another month.

Later I found myself back in Germany for a couple of years with the military, but then career and family intervened. Eventually, I got started back with personal travels on a regular basis following my one and only work-related trip to Europe. Though it all, that first summer abroad has been the inspiration for all my travels since.

Posted by Arvind
Boston/Mumbai :)
137 posts

I won't say I'm an avid traveler like many many here but I do enjoy going to different places. For me, if I want to visit a different place I'd always love it so that I immerse myself in the culture of that place...and live like the locals do. Sightseeing is all fine and I don't mind it... but ideally I'd like to spend the rest of my life living 6 months...setting up house...tearing it down and going again :) .. after living like everyone there do... with the pros and cons of that place.

Why? I think as... a few people have told me... Travel and books are life's greatest teachers. So I want to learn and learn till I die. And hence I try and travel where I can..when I can.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Really enjoy reading everyone's inspirations, experiences, motivations to explore. Thanks to all who have contributed :)

Posted by J.
Omaha, NE
120 posts

This is possibly the most lovely thread I've ever read on here. :)

I too, grew up in a family that took many road trips throughout the US. Luckily I had aunts and uncles in various states to visit, as well as both sets of grandparents who liked to travel. I also read a ton growing up, which I think sparks the imagination.

In high school, I left the country for the first time - Canada! Despite the fact that Canada didn't feel exotic (Toronto and Niagara Falls), there were enough differences that it made the world a little bigger. In college, I desperately wanted to study abroad in Ireland but my mother was adamantly against it, and I didn't have the savings to do it.

Finally, three years ago, two of my best friends and I finally just decided it was time. K had studied in Ireland in college and J was as desperate to visit "the motherland" as I was. So we did it! We booked tickets, and I spent months researching, planning, writing itineraries and rewriting itineraries. I scoured message boards and rewatched old RS episodes. I booked ALL the lodging, car rental, etc. Luckily they were willing to let me. :) Growing up I always thought it would be cool to be a travel agent. For me, planning, dreaming, researching - it's almost as much fun as the trip itself!

Ireland was AMAZING. And it made the world even larger! I spent probably two years after that trip just pining to go back, but also wanting to see more of the world! The same friends and I had tentatively been planning to go to Amsterdam, Belgium, and Germany, but one got married, the other is getting married, and life just got in the way, so that trip never really got started. The past year I've been thinking it's time to get going abroad again, and a few weeks ago, a ticket to Vienna popped up for $344 and I jumped on it! I'm taking my first solo trip! I'm 32, not married, but with twins in grade school. I'm pretty much expecting to never marry, so I want to have a life to live once they grow up and move away. I always envisioned myself taking grand adventures, either with friends or on my own, so it's time! Time to do it the first time so that I'm ready the second time!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5047 posts

@ J...Great that you got that ticket at such a fantastic price to Vienna. You'll find it a fascinating, captivating, interesting city. How long do you plan on being there?

On planning trips with friends and waiting for them, the moral of the story is don't...impractical, not worth it. Waiting for them is not an option. The chances are that you'll wind up not going. Had I waited for friends who could not commit going to Europe, first timers as I was in 1971, I would never have gone at 21, since they weren't as determined to go as I was, and they didn't want to go solo. I did.

Posted by J.
Omaha, NE
120 posts

@Fred 7 full days! (9 with flying)

That's good advice! :)

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

@J "This is possibly the most lovely thread I've ever read on here. :)" --- You are kind to say that :) Thanks also for sharing your story. Planning is half the excitement...Glad your determination and persistence made your travel dreams a reality.

Posted by Travelove
30 posts

When I saw a photo of the Roman Forum in my 4th grade Social Studies class I wanted to travel. It took me many years to get to Europe and now I take a Rick Steves tour every year.

Life is short. Travel now!

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2786 posts

My three great aunts. Military nurses who traveled extensively. Their stories about places they visited
( Paris, Bareclona, Ireland, Rome, Cuba, Morocco, Japan, Africa) opened my eyes to travel at an early age. Rest their souls, I'll always be grateful to them for expanding my horizons.

Posted by Bets
3350 posts

An illustrated edition of Heidi.
Mickey Mousr Club on the days they would visit another country.
Elder relatives who brought me back dolls from different countries they'd visit in the 1950s and 60s.

Posted by Jenny
Bothell, WA
65 posts

My lifelong love of maps of all kinds has been my main inspiration. From the moment I discovered the Atlas in our bookshelf as a child, I was hooked. My folks also had a subscription to National Geographic and a great set of encyclopedias. Our family vacations were all about fishing, so I only traveled up and down the West coast from the Yukon to Mexico as a kid, while secretly dreaming of far way, exotic places. I have so many maps and Atlases at home my family and friends think I'm nuts. But they are always amazed when they ask me if I know where such and such a country is and I can tell them exactly, even though I probably haven't been there...yet. I am looking forward to my first trip to Great Britain this summer. Jenny

Posted by Mimi
Morrison, CO, USA
529 posts

When I was a child all of our vacations were to visit relatives in other states. They were all car trips and my Dad stopped at every historical marker to read them to us. He made the landscape seem to come alive and it always seemed so interesting to travel that we loved those trips even with long hours in the car. Mom and Dad bought a 5th wheel when he retired and travelled to every state except Hawaii and I thought that was a great way to live. Traveling!

When I was 25 I got married and hubby was in the Air Force. We immediately got transferred to Okinawa, Japan and stayed for 4 years and loved every minute of it. We got to travel to Taiwan, 3 times, South Korea, 3 times, Philippines, Bangkok, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Hubby and I have loved traveling and mostly do Europe now. We have taken 5 RS tours and travelled numerous times on our own. Neither one of us is ready to quit. I'm happy to say that we have instilled the traveling bug into our boys!

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4030 posts

My mom and dad. My dad was career Army and he and and my mom jumped at the chance to be stationed in France, a few miles outside Paris when I was young (1960-1965). We traveled all over western Europe every 3 day weekend, Christmas, Easter, and summer. It got in my blood. They used the green Michelin guide and we had so much fun every where we went. My mom continued traveling to Europe every year after we moved to Sausalito and that inspired me as well. When I was 18, I moved to Paris by myself and lived and worked there for a year. Been going back ever since. I love it and can never get enough...

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

Hard to say where it really started but when I was a child I used to get these monthly magazines called Ideals. There was one that featured Christmas celebrations around the world. I was mesmerized and remember reading about the exotic holiday traditions and it was magical. I have since visited most of those countries and a few who's names have changed:)) I don't keep a lot of stuff so I did not have the magazine, but went on ebay a couple years ago, described the book and within days I had a copy of it for about $20. It was such fun to have it and it made me remember those feelings.... imagining all these wonderful locations around the world.

Posted by Kathleen
Victoria, BC, Canada
214 posts

A lifetime interest in the Roman Empire, a love of historical fiction and a degree in Geography combined with Rick's assurance that yes, even I, a small town Canadian gal, can travel Europe on my own. Seriously, Rick was the catalyst, and I thank him for sending me on my way with a carry on bag, a money belt and an openness to connect with a new country and it's people.

Posted by Judy
Rockford, IL
69 posts

I started my traveling experiences when I moved out of mom and dad's house. I have traveled all over the US. My first trip over pond was to Ireland. Much of my ancestry is from Ireland and I wanted to see where they came from. I love travelling anywhere. I usually travel alone, but on a tour with others. I am going on my first Rick Steve's tour later this summer, I can't wait. I am going to enjoy all the local tour guides that will be provided. I have traveled to Italy with a friend from work. That trip planning was assisted by an American who lives part time in Florence. She arranged to have local guides in each town we visited. It was a marvelous trip and I can't wait to go back some day. Traveling is in my blood. I always like National Geographic as a kid too. I love watching any travel show to get good ideas. Being single does not keep me nailed to the ground.

Posted by Jim
Slidell, LA
403 posts

I started college in 1999 at age 53 and six years later had a Bachelor's and MBA. Other than Vietnam I had never been out of the country, but at the end of the MBA program I had the opportunity to go on an "International Business" trip to France. It included Normandy, Paris and a quick trip to the EU headquarters in Brussels, and yes, 80% of it truly was about business. I was hooked on Europe and a few years later (2007) my 83 year-old mother-in-law told me about Rick Steves and her dream of going to Tuscany. She had never been out of the country at that time, but three trips to Europe later she is still inspiring me to plan the next trip for she and her daughter. She retires at the end of this month after 68 years of playing the organ at her church and this September she will try for the first time snorkeling with the turtles in Hawaii, shortly before becoming 90. I'm confident that without her inspiration my wife and I would have never made the time to travel this much.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
829 posts

Like many other contributors, the travel bug started with the 3 week family vacation in the station wagon every summer with my parents and four brothers (picture the Griswalds) from Minnesota. In all the years we did these vacations, we either stayed with relatives or camped in a canvas tent. I remember only 1 night where we stayed in a motel (regardless of rain sleet, snow or temperature); the night Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Seven of us squeezed in a very tiny motel room with 1 bed and 5 sleeping bags for us kids. If my Mom was still around today, she'd see that she created travel "monsters" in her kids. I don't know how she planed the trips back then, but we saw everything on the way to or from the final destination. I clearly remember Disney World the year it opened (we camped), the NY world fair in the 60's (stayed with an Aunt and Uncle). At 56, only 5 states yet to step foot in- Alaska, Montana, Maine, Arkansas, and New Hampshire.

I was 23 when I first went to Europe, then it took another 22 years until my husband and I had the means for our trip to Portugal. Now we travel internationally once a year, either to Europe or Caribbean or Central America. The internet has made traveling even more fun with the wealth of information available to contemplate, dream about, and plan an awesome vacation.

The other thing that has happened to me; travel has been the determining factor in where I've lived my adult life. After a family trip to Colorado in the Rocky Mountains in 8th grade, I told myself I would live in the mountains one day. Sure enough, after college, I moved to Colorado to ski for a year, then lived there for 20 years. Then my husband and I honeymooned in San Francisco, celebrated 10th anniversary, two 40th birthdays in wine country, and guess what? In 1999 we move to Sonoma county-wine country. My husband and I find that as we travel, we always ask ourselves, could we live here? Does anyone else do this?

By the way, great topic!

Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
1338 posts

Arthur Frommer's "Europe on $5 a Day" (Of course, in those days I made $525 a month at my first-job-out-of-college -- and could get a week's groceries for two people for $15)

After planning and saving for three years my husband and I took off in 1969 for ten weeks with a one-way charter flight to England, a very general itinerary, a wad of travelers cheques and a promise to send our parents airmail messages every few weeks. (This was also in the days when a same-day one-way ticket was possible without mortgaging your future ... when it was time to go home we were able to buy a charter flight London to New York and a TWA flight NY to LA.) Travelled off-season (September to November), had only the first hotel booked ahead and everything else was "on the fly."

Things have changed !! Many more people traveling, more pre-planning, but Paris is as gorgeous as ever,

Posted by Brittany
Southern California
5 posts

After a messy break up with my significant other, during the "liberation phase," I pondered what to do with my newfound independent spirit. I had just graduated, after speeding through school so fast I didn't have the chance to study abroad. So I thought, "Ok, I'll do that." In a month, I'll travel for two months before starting grad school in the UK.

My dream has been to travel to Norway (which I'll be doing as part of my travels), for which I credit/blame the Norway Pavilion at Walt Disney World in Florida, where my family vacationed frequently in my youth. The small sampling of stave architecture and baked delights, and especially the gorgeous images of Norway's natural wonders have stayed with me ever since.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
2047 posts


Nice reading all the replies here. In the late 1980's I was recieveing brochures from a company called "Alpen Tours", which specialized in motorcycle tours of the alps, naturally. I enjoy motorcycling, but my wife, not so much. Anyway, after seeing the brochure photo's of places like Heiligenblut, roads such as the Grossglockner and Timmesjoch Pass and then the Swiss Alps, I needed to see them in person. After reading a few Rick Steve's books, we were convinced we could do our own trip. Our first trip was a night in Liechtenstein and 10 nights in Switzerland in 1990. We then took a trip 2 years later to Germany and Austria in 1992. After a long break from traveling, we have taken 8 more trips to Germany, Austria and the Dolomites between 2001 and 2013.

Posted by Bob
Manchester, CT, USA
121 posts

In 1972 I attended a summer program at Oxford University. Before the program started, I travelled by myself around England and Scotland (including some hitchhiking). Afterwards, I went to France, Switzerland and Austria with a group of classmates. Life happened, and I was unable to travel to Europe again until 2004, when we visited our daughter who was studying in Italy. On that Italy trip, I realized that the spark had been kindled again.

Posted by J.
Omaha, NE
120 posts

@Jenny - YES! MAPS! Oh my gosh I loved the atlas while we were on our road trips. And I also loved spinning the globe and letting my finger stop on a random spot, looking up that country in the encyclopedia, and learning more about it.

Incidentally my friend just sent me a link to these prints on Etsy today, and I HAD to buy them: https://www.etsy.com/listing/165609525/sale-90-off-travel-quotes-combo The "I'm in Love with Cities I've Never Been To" is so me! That's part of what I love about the research and planning of travel...falling in love with the idea of a city. And Wanderlust is actually a word I've been using lately while planning my next trip.

@Brittany - how exciting! And YES to the Norway pavilion at EPCOT! I found EPCOT fascinating as a child. Dare I say I loved it more than Magic Kingdom? The world showcase was my favorite part! I felt so fancy when my mom and I went to the french patisserie. :)

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3553 posts

Epcot at Disney is already inspiring my 4 year old granddaughter to want to travel. We go often as they live in Fl., and she knows that the Eiffel tower is in France and she always reminds me that I am going to take her there when she is old enough... She has also been to Las Vegas and seen more 'fake' travel destinations, but somehow she seems to understand that there is still a 'real' destination out there that she wants to visit someday.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
877 posts

When I was very young my father had to fly to Washington DC every Sunday night for meetings. I still remember standing there at our tiny local airport watching the planes take off, wondering what exotic places they were going and wanting so much to be on one. then his work started taking him on sea trials in the submarines and they would end up in fantastic places like Ireland, England & Spain. From Spain he brought home an over-sized post card of La Virgen de Macarena in Seville - it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I knew I just had to see it in person.

I did eventually get to see her in person - I still have the postcard - the edges are all soft, the corners are all round and it is broken in half from being folded & unfolded over the years.

Posted by Tony
192 posts

As an army brat, I lived in europe twice and also Japan. I lived in several different states growing up. Also was able to work in Frankfurt for 18 months when I was in my late teens. Being around people all the time that never lived in one place more than 3 years was a great experience. Everyone always talked about the places where they have lived and their experiences. That just made it seem natural to travel. Living in Frankkfurt for 18 months was amazing. Just being able to get on a train and go to Switzerland, France, or wherever on the weekends was so much fun. Europe was rebuilding the first time I lived there. Being able to see the cities a few years later was amazing. Spent time in Berlin during the wall years, and then see it later was something I never forget. When I got on a train in Frankfurt and got to the East German border, armed guards up and down the track with guard dogs every 100 yards, was a travel experience few people got to experience. Those travel expereinces just made me want to go more. Have been able to get back 2 more times and will be going in 2015. One of the earlier posts on this forum said, " Some people have more money, but I have more memories." That is well spoken and I would not trade my memories or experiences for anything. I know you can't take your money with you, but memories will be there forever. I do thank Rick Steve's for all he does to motivate people to travel and I rarely miss his sunday PBS show in Nashville.

Marie, I really enjoyed this post and thanks to everyone who shared their motivation to travel.
Keep traveling everyone.

Posted by Larry
Pearland, Texas, USA
423 posts

Toward the end of his life, my father was confined to a wheelchair. He often told me "if there's anyplace you want to go or anything you want to do...do it while you can because the time will come when you can't". So I travel to the places I want to see while I can.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
877 posts

So true Larry. My husband is 75, we currently live full-time in a motor home but we have put off traveling the US and are concentrating on Europe while he is still active. We can do the US later when 6 - 8 weeks in Europe are too much for him.

Posted by Ginger
253 posts

MarieB, did you ever share your inspiration?

I was about 6 when my aunt brought back beautiful dolls from Europe. That was it. I wanted to travel like she did, and see all the wonderful places she talked about.

Spent 3 months in Europe right after high school.

Have been an obsession of mine ever since. I would scrimp and save to travel, while my friends bought designer clothes, and partied all the time.

Posted by Brad
Greeley, CO, USA
351 posts

Hey Kent thanks for the link to the 2007 entry. We starting traveling to Europe in 2004 when our two boys were young. They are now 13 and 16. May 2013 reaffirmed for us why we take the kids to Europe. Just like others in the 2007 posts, all of us could not even speak at the Omaha Beach cemetery. I have never seen two teenage boys more silent. It really is the one place in the world every teenager in America should see (and Ground Zero and the movie Schindlers List).

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9300 posts

Brad, I remember you and am glad you appreciated the 2007 answers to this question. Those 3 things you mentioned are tops in my book, too.

Posted by Diane
New York, NY, USA
165 posts

Summer vacations as a child to different US cities. First overseas trip was with my grandparents to their home country of Spain. Think I was first bitten when I read Heidi as a 7 year old, then The Sound of Music, and the Olympics- does anyone else remember when they would spin the globe to show you where an athlete was from and then do a story about the place? As an adult a Walter Mathau/ Julie Andrews movie set in Austria and Switzerland rekindled the flame and of course the Poldark series inspired a trip to Cornwall!

Now we are working our way down my dad's bucket list- luckily it matches mine and a return to Switzerland is next!

Posted by ponygirl813
Providence, RI United States
80 posts

Julia Child--and no, I'm not on the wrong thread. Reading her biography "Dearie" inspired me to aim for her fearlessness, which is contrary to my nature. Travel is an expression of that.

Posted by John
163 posts

Marie B, thank you for this. Very interesting. What inspired you? Thank you to the others who had mentioned the National Geographic because it never dawned on me that that could be one of the reasons also. I loved reading about the far away places or the adventures people went on. In the Detroit area there was a travel show starring George Pierot. How great to see moving pictures of far away places. Like many others, our parents took us on road trips across the USA. I loved seeing different places, hearing different accents, and even seeing different stores (Piggly Wiggly). I was truly blessed and too young to realize it. Being an auto enthusiast, I enjoyed seeing the Monaco F1 race every year on ABC as an insight into a European city. My first trip abroad was to the Frankfurt Auto Show. I was supposed to go with a friend and he had to back out at the last minute. So, I booked a 10 night tour of Germany and then spent 4-5 nights afterward on my own. I saw the show at the end of the tour and was so impressed by some of the sights on that tour that I went to see them again. The Alpes, breathtaking. The church in Weis, stunning. I was happy just to be driving in a foreign country without any particular plan. Since then I met and married a woman who loves to travel as much as I do and we get away when and while we can. We honeymooned in Europe and have sent 2 of 3 children there on school trips and took the whole family to Paris once. In 2003, words of wisdom spoken to us by a retired American couple at the bottom of Neu Schwanstein have stayed with me. They said to my wife and I "you are lucky to be doing this at a younger age'. Europe is not as disabled friendly and one of their companions was having difficulty with the many stairs and walking that Europe requires. Rick Steves may not have been there to guide me on my first trip many years ago. However, he has been helpful us many times since then. Thank you Rick Steves.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Thank you John. And thank you also for sharing your life experiences :)

Posted by robinsegg
8 posts

Love, love, love reading this thread!

My paternal grandfather, a Corsican who immigrated to the US in the 40's, took me with him on a business trip to Rome when I was 13. That city blew me away. I recall riding down the road, turning a bend, and seeing the Colosseum spring into view in front of me! It took my breath away. I realized there are some really amazing things in this world, but furthermore, that I CAN GO SEE THEM. They don't have to be just things I read about or see on a screen. I can touch them, walk on them, drink in the very air around them. As a small town pre-teen, this was not the usual mindset. I felt like I had been exposed to an elite secret...and still do!

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Thank you robinsegg :) And I agree; lovely stories and experiences.

I still have my collection of authentic, handmade dolls from Italy and Greece where my family and neighbors had visited.