I've traveled all my life and have learned so much, about myself and the world around me. It's in my blood and I love exploring new places.
We started early. I grew up in California and my family took a driving trip (in our VW bus) across the states stopping in multiple places. Here I am with my older sister at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., still one of my all-time favorite cities!
I can honestly say that what I learned from that trip is probably limited to discovering that I don't like outhouses and that I love seeing new places.
My dad went to work for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and was assigned to Vietnam in 1967. From that point on, my world of travel opened up in so many unexpected, beautiful, and amazing ways.
Since dependents weren't allowed into Vietnam (there was a war going on, after all), we moved to the Philippines, Manila specifically, so we could be closer to our dad. We lived in a 'village' of homes where Americans lived (we know them as subdivisions). It was awesome! We had a maid and a cook and a huge house with a secret passageway from my closet to my sister's room (I think) that passed a small balcony overlooking the room below (not so secret, I guess, but I loved it as a kid). I loved the colorful jeepneys (overly decorated, almost gaudy, elongated jeeps used as taxis)--the gaudier the more likely to attract customers. I wasn't too enthralled with the smells and rats, not so much.
We did all the normal kids things - played with friends, went to school and did our homework, swam at the Seafront club pool, learned how to play tennis, and played 'house' in the kid-size Nipa Hut our grandparents got us (Nipa Huts are the native houses of the Filipinos, usually made with natural plant materials like bamboo with thatch roofs). Ours was a little one room Nipa Hut with a porch.
But our family also explored.
We went to Baguio, a beautiful city (known as the City of Pines) on the island of Luzon. Pine trees everywhere and amazing multi-leveled rice terraces going down the hillsides. Very picturesque, cool in the summers too. I know I appreciated the coolness but, at 7 or 8, I doubt I truly appreciated the beauty of the rice terraces.
We also went by boat to Corregidor Island, an island located at the entrance of Manila Bay. Historically, due to its location, Corregidor was fortified with coastal artillery to defend the entrance of Manila Bay and Manila from attacks by enemy warships. It is a national shrine commemorating the battle fought there by U.S. and Filipino forces against overwhelming numbers of Japanese during WWII. I didn't know any of that. I just had fun running around and checking out the big guns. We jumped off the boat and swam and played around it, only later finding out the waters were shark-infested. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss!
We lived there for 1 1/2 years before returning to California. Travel has been in my blood ever since. :)