I owe all of this to my mother. All of it.
My mother, Jean, is the most travel-obsessed person I know. I’ve never met anyone who is more passionate about experiencing cultures and customs, lifestyles and languages, food and festivals. Thankfully, she has passed this love of travel down to my brother Eric and me, instilling into us from a very young age that there’s more to the world than what we could find in our small New Jersey hometown. And she has not only taught us how to travel, but more importantly, why traveling needs to be done.
It’s always fun for me to watch my mother research a destination and plan a trip, because she digs deep down into the heart and soul of each place she wishes to visit. If you’ve never been to my mother’s house, allow me to tell you what you’d find in there: bookshelves and coffee tables stacked to the ceiling with travel guides. I can tell you without exaggeration that my mother has probably purchased THOUSANDS of travel guides in her lifetime. Nobody does their homework like my mother. Nobody. She even managed to get herself banned from our neighborhood library for failing to return some travel books that she had borrowed. Now that’s dedication.
One of my favorite childhood memories is going to museums with my mother and watching her explain to the employees about the museum. No, that’s not a typo–SHE would explain it to THEM. She literally knew more about the exhibits, events, deals and discounts than the people who actually worked there. And if some hard-headed, know-it-all clerk or curator tried to refute her claims, she would whip out some kind of brochure or leaflet, proving herself correct. It was hilarious to watch her absolutely school the employees at their own museum.
Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve always loved to listen to my mother rattle off the places that she’s been to–cities, countries, you name it. The list seems to never end. I marvel at the priceless works of art she’s seen and the exotic foods she’s tasted. But the most impressive thing about her travels is not the sheer number of cities and countries that she’s visited–after all, traveling doesn’t belong on a scoreboard. No, the most impressive thing is that she traveled to most of these places as a young woman (a quite attractive one at that), often by herself, chasing her travel dreams and ambitions no matter how difficult or dangerous. And this was well before Trip Advisor, Google Maps, and the Internet in general made traveling so much easier.
My mother has passed her passion for travel onto the next generation, and for that I am eternally grateful. There are many people whom I can thank for the awesome travel tales which you are about to read, but there’s only one person to whom I dedicate these tales.
Thank you, Mama Jean. This blog’s for you.