Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Behind My Bedroom Door

I caught the bug when I was about ten years old.

My grandpa had it too—he passed it on to me. And even though my poor grandma didn’t have it, he made her take part in it.

The travel bug.

Grandpa Earl retired early, and he and my grandma spent probably 20 years traveling all over the world. Twice that I recall they went literally around the world. They went to Europe several times, to Central America, to Asia. And every time they got back from a trip I’d say, “So, Grandpa, where are you going next?”

He always had an answer for me.

I knew I had it when I started pilfering the Travel section of the Chicago Tribune on Sunday afternoons. I’d take it to my room, close the door softly, and grab my scissors and tape.

“Rome is for Lovers”

“St. Barts: A Romantic Getaway”

“The Stunning Beaches of Puerto Rico”

“Switzerland on $10 a Day”

The headlines grabbed my attention, not so much for the content, but for the place names. I would carefully cut out the name of each place that sounded romantic, mysterious, or intriguing—places I wanted to visit someday—and then I’d tape the names of these places to the back of my door.


“St. Barts”

“Puerto Rico”


The back of my bedroom door was the perfect hideaway for my dreams. During the day, while my door stood open, the names could not be seen, so my sisters couldn’t tease me about them.

But at night, while I studied or read or got ready for bed, the names remained fixed in their spot, for my eyes only. For my dreams only.

Throughout junior high and high school I continued to steal the Chicago Tribune Travel section, and I continued to cut out names of places I’d someday like to see. By the time I graduated from high school, the back of my door was completely covered.

I still remember the day I left for college and had to remove those place names, those destinations that had become very much a part of me. I slowly peeled back the tape so that I wouldn’t rip any of the newsprint, and I remember thinking for a minute that I should save them but then chastising myself for the ridiculousness of it all.

After college I got married, but before we ever walked down the aisle I made sure that B understood that I was just like Grandpa Earl, always dreaming about the next trip. I would happily forgo a huge house or nice car for a trip.

I indoctrinated him before we had kids by taking him to England to see many of the places I had seen in college. We backpacked and stayed in Youth Hostels and did the entire trip for $2,500, which was an absolute fortune to us back then.

Since then I have seen a lot of those places—St. Barts, Puerto Rico, and Switzerland, even—and we have made family memories to last a lifetime. And I still contend that spending money on travel is never a waste.

Nor is spending time in your bedroom cutting out place names from the Travel section of the newspaper, dreaming of the next trip you will take.

The world is vast and huge and diverse and a blessed place to be. When I travel I sense that God is in it all and sees it all and controls it all. I see His creativity and His ordering of things and His hand reaching out to the world. I feel a part of the vastness and hugeness and the diversity of God.

And that is a blessed place to be.

Now tell me, do you like to travel? Why or why not?


  1. Kind of. I like road trips and I love to fly. But travel has never been a priority. I have never been out of the country. I have flown to D.C. and have driven to Atlanta. I have taken the train to San Diego once and have flown to San Diego once. Both times I neglected going to the beach. Someday I would like to go to Ireland, but have not taken any steps toward making it happen. My husband and I have talked about Mexico and Israel but only in a vague "someday" way.

  2. I love road trips, too, Jenny. Not so much with young kids, although we did that, but it's fun to see what's out there.

  3. I got so excited reading this!! Costa Rica is my next destination. A house on the water with all the grandababies and everyone. Ahhhh

  4. Ooooh! Costa Rica!! I've never been there, but my oldest went on a mission trip during h.s. She loved it!

  5. Shelly, I too curled up with the Tribune Travel section when I was growing up! My parents are not travelers- our only family vacations were to Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I have no idea where my wanderlust came from but I've always wanted to see, explore, and experience other places and cultures. I'm a little antsy right now because I don't know when or where my next vacation will be. Someday I hope to go on a Mediterranean cruise- maybe I'll start saving now!

  6. Often Grampa Earl would spend Saturday mornings in the sunroom drinking coffee with me. When he was no longer traveling, I asked him where his next trip would have been. "The Panama Canal" was his answer. Do you remember Dad's and my trip there? We did it for him.

  7. Oh Mom, that is so sweet. I didn't know that.

    Leigh, Yes! Start saving now, and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll get there.

  8. Well, having never met in the flesh, I think you know what my answer will be - YES! Even as we look to buy a house this Spring in our next local, we say "OK - the mortgage has to leave "traveling" room."
    It's great to get outside of your own backyard - be it a new city or a new country. To see all the differences, be thankful for what you have and realize that God has His people all over the world. It's just plain fun! (most of the time)

  9. I love to travel! WE love to travel. We've done a lot since getting married although in reading your post I realized I haven't been overseas in 5 years and it made me ready to book tickets! You must realize that 5 years is a looong time considering between '93 (Malaysia) and '06 (Mexico) I had been to more than 10 countries. Our next trip is our 10 year anniversary back to Anguilla (in 3 yrs) unless we fit in a trip to Europe before then.

  10. For those of you who don't read Susan's blog (Olson Family), she and her family traveled to Egypt just this past December (?) and she's been writing about it. Fascinating!! You should check it out.

    Mrs. W, I didn't know that about you. Awesome!! (Your little guy was adorable this morning!)

  11. I like to travel IF I can do it in style. LOL. I'm sure that does not surprise you. ;-) we can't afford the kind of travel I like very often, and I prefer to do it without kids, although they are finally getting old enough that they will be fun to take along and it will be educational to them. My husband's parents have that bug, and they have been to SO many places. It really does enrich your life in numerous ways!

  12. Sometimes I get bogged down by the logistics, but once I am in a new place, I love to see what is hidden there.

  13. I love traveling! I haven't done much in the past few years, though. And I haven't done much "big" travel at all. I don't like flying, but it's totally worth it for a good trip. :)

  14. I have the bug! So does my family. As children of travel agents, my husband and I love to travel. We would forgo the things you mentioned to be able to travel. We are passing that on to our children as well. Travel opens the mind and exposes you to many different ways of life. As part of our bug we are about to embark on our second international assignment....this one to Mexico City. We can't wait!

  15. Ooooh, Cristy, Mexico City may be just a little TOO adventurous for me right now. I'd love to know how that goes!

  16. Oh yes! To experience the cultures of international travel, and to (sometimes) see your own family traits being carried down, knowing or not knowing. Travel is one of the last great adventures we can take.

  17. If I confess I am a homebody, can we still be friends? I always like the travel once I go (and get back home again) but I hardly, if ever, wish for it... I just like to be home. Funny thing is my youngest son is exactly the same way!