Everyone remembers their first time…traveling that is. You remember your first time in an airport, the way the plane took off, roaring like thunder, making your heart soar with it. For some of us, travel came late in life. For others, it came as early as five. I picked the brains of four travel bloggers and got them to share their first time travel stories with me.
An American Kid in Santo Domingo
It seemed like the adventure lasted one week when I reminisce about the first time I traveled. When my mother revealed to me as I got older that the little memories that I did have of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was over a span of three months, I was shocked. I was just five years old but my little brother and I still remember the rural way of life in DR, walking on dirt paved roads, being pinched on the cheeks by aunts who wore completely too much make- up and taking baths in laundry wash tin buckets. The water was so cold, but what could you expect when Abuelita (grandma) was living in a home constructed from cement blocks and steel siding. My sense of smell awakened the memory of when Abuelita used to bath me outside in that bucket with the laundry bar of soap. To this day I look for that bar in the bodega just to relive the memory.
Villa Mejia was one of the most economically deprived sections of Santo Domingo, and hard knocks were born from there. It was no surprise that an American kid couldn’t stomach unpasteurized goat milk properly like the rest of the local kids. I was sent to the hospital that was 10 miles away. Oh, no, but there were no ambulances. My grandmother, being used to the routine of emergencies there, urged us to jump on this moped taxi to the hospital. All of us were squashed on that one seat: my grandma, mother, brother, the driver and me as we held on for dear life to the hospital. Obviously I came out okay but a tell tale sign that my mother thought it best we go back to America. I still wish I could go back though.
— Franchesca Benzant the Fly By Co Co Latina
A Marriage for Your Troubles? Crazy Moments in India
I don’t know what came over me but once we stopped at a light I realized tears were coming down my cheeks. I was crying. I am known to be a cry baby but I honestly didn’t understand how emotion engulfed me so quickly at the light. I think I was just tired, not from the heat or from being in the country, but tired of fighting for everything. Having the ability to fight for what you want and believe builds character but it is also draining and sometimes you want things to be a little easier.
The kind auto driver, whose name is Adil, sees my tears and asks “Maam, why are you crying?” I can’t answer him; I just close my eyes and tell myself that everything is going to be ok. I think that it was in this moment that he fell in love with me.
For the entire ride he questions me about marriage, and love, and if I have a boyfriend or someone special in my heart. I answer all his questions honestly saying, “No” but not realizing that I should have lied saying I was married to a crazy man! He takes me to the furniture store waits for me to be done so that he can take me back home and offers to buy me a small snack of sprite and chips. I realize that his questions are suspect so I decide that he will not be taking me home!
I have him drop me off at a nearby landmark and pay him a little extra since he was so nice. He tries to give me the money back and says “May I be frank with you?” I’m starting to think that I haven’t given him enough money but then he blurts out “I am in love with you, from the bottom of my heart, you seem like such a good person.”
AWKWARD SILENCE! I finally say, “thank you” because I didn’t know what else to say.
He responds by saying “so do you understand and accept my proposal?”
This is when I get confused. I say “yes” because I did understand what he was saying but he thought I said yes to his proposal and he quickly added, “Really? So you will come with me to my home and meet my parents tonight or tomorrow?”
— Martice Sutton of Black Girl in the Big World
By Any Other Name
The first time I traveled, I landed in Germany without the slightest idea of how to contact my brother. He didn’t have a cell phone and we’d somehow neglected to discuss this part of my flight! I mulled over the merits of looking for him or staying put. Settling on the latter, I waited for 45 minutes before switching gears and walking around. Finally, I spotted him with a customer service agent who had apparently announced a Dutch-accented version of my name several times! Little did I know, Germany had more adventures in store – starting with the cringe provoking Autobahn!
— Michaela Hall of Awe inclusive.com
A Surprise Trip to Hawaii
There had been whispers all week about where we were going to go for summer vacation. I’d never been on vacation or at least, I couldn’t remember if I had. I was 5 yrs old; this was the most exciting thing to me since my first ballet of the Nutcracker the previous year.
As the days grew closer there was no hint or anything. I remember going shopping for “vacation” clothes. We would have a layover before our final destination so my Mom said we would need a total of four outfits for the four flights. She said, “Choose wisely” because we couldn’t change our minds at the last minute. I have no idea what my sisters picked nor did I care. All I knew was I had to look fabulous For God sakes! I was going on my first vacation!
We still had no idea where we were going but we knew that Monday was the day. My Mom entered our room & woke us up with kisses. I almost didn’t sleep so I absolutely sprung up — it was still dark outside— and ran for the bathroom to shower, wash my face & brush my teeth. I think I got dressed quicker than I ever did in my life. We had to be at the airport by 6am. My Mom made us a quick hot breakfast & then we were out off to JFK.
When we arrived at the airport and checked our bags, my Mom turned to us & asked if we were excited.
I let out a big scream, “YESSSS!” But where are we going?”
She said, “You’ll find out soon enough.”
As the flight attendant took our tickets, she bent down with a big smile & said, “You’re going to have so much fun in Hawaii.”
I could feel the excitement all through my body. I ran on to the plane & yelled “LETS GO!”
The flight attendants were so smitten with me that they took me in the cock-pit to see the captain. I sat on his lap as I pretended to fly the plane. I remember the flight attendants giving me wings and asked my Mom if I could help pass out candy to the passengers. The plane ride alone was exciting.
Our first stop was SFO for a two hour layover. I barely remember the layover but before I knew it we had landed in Waikiki, Hawaii and were greeted with lei’s. The air smelled of fresh flowers and fruit. It was the most beautiful smell I’ve ever smelled. The people were so warm and inviting. The island was something you would only see in postcards or on television. Never in a million years did I expect to see something so esthetically beautiful with my own eyes.
Hawaii was a paradise in every sense of the word. A lot of people think that Hawaii would be a place just for couples but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My Mom came to this island years before for her honeymoon and vowed that she wanted her children to experience the same thing she felt when she landed and Hawaii didn’t disappoint. As I write this I picture it as I did when there. I can still smell the flowers and fruit in the air.
— Smithsonian Guggenheim
What’s your first time travel story? Share it with us in the comments below!
NOTE: Feature photo found via. All profile photos Author’s own. I do not own any rights.