I started keeping a travel journal in 1999. I called it THE TRAVEL ADVENTURES OF CARL & SHERRY. Okay, so not too original…It was actually my husband’s idea, as he thought it would be great to have these memories in our old age or whenever we just wanted to look back. I truly could see us sitting outside at our home, pulling out that journal, and sending us back to Christmas in Paris.

Being well-traveled doesn't mean you should take it for granted. Make your travel a series of "firsts" and NEVER FORGET YOUR TRAVEL ROOTS.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the journal, especially at the request of my friends. I have been asked so often about places we’ve stayed and restaurants we’ve eaten at, such as, “What was the funky hotel you stayed at in Prague?” “What was the restaurant you ate at in Florence that had those stuffed zucchini blossoms you guys loved so much?” All I have to do is grab that journal and the information is at hand and I have a grateful friend.

It recently got pulled out for an article I’m writing on our trip through France. But, instead of going to that entry, something compelled me to sit down and read the whole journal just to see what I had written and reminiscence a bit. But, rather than a journey through past travels, what I read instead spoke volumes to me about how my concept of traveling and how I actually travel have changed since those “early years”. It was truly a moment of self-discovery…

I guess I should preface this by saying I hadn’t done a lot of traveling pre-Carl. I had been to Hawaii on a college trip, so really dirt cheap, and then Germany, Switzerland, and Austria on my first honeymoon, but we were very young and very broke. Throw in a few ski trips out west and that was about it. So, I was far from a sophisticated traveler when we married. Now, my husband, on the other hand was, having even taken a trip around the world when he was 13.

What I found when I began reading simply made me smile. My early entries were replete with awe and wonder and pure delight and filled with a series of “firsts”. I talked with such excitement about getting upgraded to Business Class – my first time up front – and about tasting a Bellini for the first time in Venice.

villa d'este in italy

The initial entry was a 3 day trip we took to London on a package deal. I think I booked the whole trip for around $1200 through Virgin Atlantic. We arrived at our very nice hotel, The Grosevenor House, but had a really crappy room, and I mean crappy like a converted closet with views of the alley. But, we didn’t give it much thought. Instead, we threw our bags on the bed and headed out with our travel guide books.

I was enthralled about eating at an English pub and simply in heaven having tea at The Dorchester. We literally didn’t stop for 3 days and saw every major tourist attraction, 20 in all because I listed them, because who knew when we’d get back. How funny that we ended up living there many years later and eating at an English pub would become common place and I would be taking all my visiting friends for tea…

On my first trip to Paris, I wrote about literally getting goose bumps seeing the Mona Lisa; about finding narrow streets filled with little shops and cobblestones; about finding an open air market by the Eiffel Tower where we bought some Brie and Moubert with baguettes that we had with wine in our room before dinner on Saturday night; about Xavier, our driver, who took us to Versailles and Giverney in a Mercedes; and about having deux cafe au laits at Cafe de Flore to people watch.

I wrote about seats going “all the way back” on our trip to Lake Como and Venice; about having a $12 bottle of wine with dinner every night; about having coffee and listening to music in the Plaza San Marco; and how after a debate, we decided to pay $25 to take a private water taxi to our hotel. I oohed and aahed about the fireworks outside our room at the Villa d’Este and seeing a Marc Chagall exhibit in Lugano and how I was going to find out why he put a chicken in many of his paintings when we got home. (Found out he used it to symbolize fertility).

villa d'este in italy

I wrote about how I hate being the organizer for trips with friends and how I always swear I’ll never do it again, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to! I described the glorious sunset we watched off Madekat on Nantucket and the lighthouse we found on Atlantic Road while riding our bikes down Poplis Road to Sconset.

But, as I got towards the end of the journal, my writing took on a distinct change in tone. It went from one of story-telling to matter-of-fact. I no longer shared the emotions of the trip, but just listed the details, such as where we stayed and ate and by the very end, I just listed the date and place with zero details. I guess I had plans to go back and fill in the blanks. I even actually stopped doing the journal for the past year.

When I closed the journal, I took a moment to let it all sink in. I realized how vastly different both the basics of how we travel, along with my attitude had become. I now take for granted that the seats go back and hey, they should be flat bed. If I had a room that was a closet, I’d be livid and it would be unacceptable and someone would be sure to know about it. We don’t take a lot of tourist type trips anymore and would never think to sip coffee in the Plaza San Marco. Most of our travel now revolves around triathlon race sites and what’s close to the race venues.

It didn’t take me long to realize it’s not only time to put pen to paper again, but also to view my travels through a refreshed outlook. So, when you read my article on our travels through France, I’m going to close my eyes and relive the emotions of the trip and share my true love of travel with you…

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And here’s to this crappy picture of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre that gave me goose bumps…

While I don’t want to give a moral to this story, there is something I want you to take away from my self-discovery. Enjoy every moment of your travel and capture it in your memory if not on paper. Don’t take a second of your glorious experiences, good and bad, for granted. Treat every trip as an adventure and see it through those newbie eyes. Oh, by the way, Carl doesn’t even know where I keep the journal. I guess he’s waiting for old age…

– SHERRY

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA OF TRAVEL CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?