I have always known that I was born to be a traveler since I was a young child. I grew up in a mixed household where my family was all over the world, primarily in the United States and South Korea. My father was in the Air Force and traveled all over even taught English as a second job (that’s how he met my mom!) and my mother was a traveling nurse when she was younger. I grew up with parents who traveled all over the place as solo travelers and as a couple, they both left their homes to live in other countries, and finally settled in an area where none of their family lived. I grew up admiring my parent’s classic photo albums (a time before digital cameras which included only film and photo prints) of their lives living in other countries especially in Japan.
Growing up, my parents taught me to be knowledgeable of my culture as a Korean-American, which included being humble and grateful for everything in my life. They taught me independence, life skills and that hard work will get you what you need in life. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where exposure to traveling was common and we could afford to travel as a family together.
One of my favorite memories on a plane was flying to South Korea in a Boeing (B-747) with the spiral staircase. I remember going up and down the staircase to be surprised with lots of kids playing together with video games and all sorts of stuff. Traveling on a plane was so different and it was only a once in a lifetime experience and it only happened that one time even after traveling to South Korea every other year as a child.
On the other hand, one of my worst memories on a plane was almost losing my retainer (I don’t remember if it was to or from South Korea). My dad was so mad, but we found out I had left my retainer on my food tray and we thought I would never get it back. My dad had to search through all the food trays to find it! Haha
Most of my fondest moments growing up, were traveling with my family as a child. I think one of the earliest trips I remember (other than traveling to South Korea to visit family) was going to Hawaii when I was 5. I remember playing on the beaches all day, eating great food with family and friends, and looking at the beautiful sunset across the horizon.
Everything was different back then, carefree, most flights were booked with a travel agency, payments in other countries usually consisted of traveler’s checks and we ate whatever the hell we wanted without thinking about what was in it.
For my family, it was important to travel and expose yourself to many things. It usually involved extravagant shows and exhibits. However, there was lack of cultural appropriation, lack of care for the animals and our environment. I remember growing up and going to SeaWorld or Ringling Brother’s and not thinking anything about the animals like I do now. Back then it was just a family gathering and seeing amazing animals in shows you couldn’t ever imagine. Now you see documentaries like the Black Fish and regret even going to those as a child. However, with bloggers, the news, social media, and eco-friendly people out there, many of us have been able to educate others on how to be more conscious of your carbon footprint.
Traveling as a child, usually meant visiting and spending time with family. It wasn’t so much traveling for pleasure as it is for most people these days. I remember my cousin, aunt and grandparents flying in from South Korean and vividly traveling with them all over the Western side of the United States. We traveled to Canada, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and pretty much the entire West Coast.
Traveling meant the WORLD to me and it still does. It meant spending endless time with my family, exploring new worlds and territories but also it meant lots of amazing memories that I cherish. As I grew older, traveling wasn’t just something that I loved doing, but it was something that I needed to do. As a child, I hating the waiting in cars, planes, boats, etc. for long periods of time. Back then the only form of entertainment were playing cards, a Nintendo Gameboy, and your imagination. The destination was always the highlight of the trip and still is. As I grew older, it was easier for my parents and I to travel, we did more road trips, explored more areas that we wanted to see and sometimes it still involved seeing family.
LOL excuse the grunge phase and weird clothing options (I had a hard time learning how to dress my body for years) from the photos below.
I think about all the times I traveled as a child now and feel so blessed to have parents who could make travel happen in our lives. These were and are literally the best memories of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. My mother passed away when I was 17 and I was so grateful to have these photos, memories, and exposure to travel with her. She taught me that life is too short to not go out and experience it as much as possible. My parents worked hard to give me the best memories and for that, I owe them to continue to wander, explore and learn.
What were some of your fondest memories traveling as a child? Leave your comments below!