Memories of Vacations Long Gone, on the Baltic Sea in Poland

Memorable Travel Experiences: A Collaborative Post

It’s better to spend money on “experiences such as travel over material goods” Cornell University’s researchers tell us.

“[P]eople get more retrospective enjoyment and satisfaction from their experiential purchases than from their material purchases”

I completely agree.

Yes, it would be nice to see every day an updated and gleaming bathroom or kitchen, but even though I hate the wallpaper in our kitchen, and our bathroom could use updating as well, I get much more enjoyment from reminiscing our recent trips, to the Alhambra, London, or Portugal.

I love traveling back in my mind to places I’ve been to, especially when I look at the pictures. Keeping the memories alive is one of the reasons I blog about our trips – it lets me relive that moment I smiled when I saw the Trafalgar Square, or the time we had leisurely breakfasts on the balcony of one of the places we stayed at.

Even when I look at old photos, going back to when I was five, I still remember bits and pieces of those vacations.

The photo at the beginning of this post is from one of my family’s annual trips to the Baltic Sea. The photo is black and white, but I still remember the pastel hues of my dress, the red and white of my sandals, and my polka dot red hat.

I also remember the warmth of the sun and the wind on my skin, and the beautiful sunset.

A bit older photos don’t bring as many memories. I recall very little of my family’s winter vacation in the Karkonosze part of the Polish Tatras. I do not remember the dog, but I do remember sledding with my dad.

photo from family winter vacation very long time ago in Karpacz, Poland
photo from family winter vacation very long time ago in Karpacz, Poland

A recent #WeekendWanderlust chat on Travel Memories wasn’t especially hopping, but when I asked for travel memories from my fellow travelers on Facebook, I got quite a few replies.

Here’s what they shared:

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From Anna, who blogs on Aspects of Style, and tweets as @designedbyann:

General Travel Memories

I started travelling abroad aged 5, and I vaguely remember riding up the escalators inside the Atomium in Brussels. I have many unforgettable memories, but I can’t pick just one! I remember the first time I flew over the Atlantic; a new world opened up in front of my eyes. I remember the evening that I got to New York City (by train from Washington DC) and looking up and seeing the Empire State Building. It was magical. I also have memories that I want to forget, like a sailing trip from Athens to Mykonos. The party was rather odd: a mix of couples and bachelors, which although good friends on the shore, didn’t really bond on the boat. Oh did a mention that we spent a whole day of sailing with high winds: 7 on the Beaufort scale! That trip taught me something at least: pick your travel mates wisely. Very wisely!

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From Penny Sadler, who blogs on Adventures of a Carry-on, and tweets as @pennysadler:

Most Exhilarating Travel Memory

One of my most adventurous and exhilarating travel experiences was ballooning over Napa Valley. I was a little nervous about it at first, but as I watched the ballloon filling with air I could feel my apprehension melting away, replaced by anticipation and excitement.

Once we were all in the balloon and it  began to gently rise along with the sun, I can only describe how I felt as giddy. I guess it was the rush of adrenaline, and it lasted throughout our hour long flight over Calistoga. It’s an experience I will never forget and can’t wait to do it again.

Penny's photo from her Calistoga Balloon trip over the Napa Valley
Penny’s photo from her Calistoga Balloon trip over the Napa Valley

You can read a full account of that trip in “Flying High Over Napa Valley With Calistoga Balloons.”

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From Tamara, who blogs on Postcards and Passports, and tweets as @postandpassport:

Craziest Travel Memory

In 2010, our entire family went to Madrid for a week.  My son, who is fascinated with all things medieval, decided he wanted to buy a souvenir dagger in Toledo (which is legendary for its handmade swords and armor). He found something he loved and bought it.  It was wrapped in thick paper and placed in his messenger bag for the remainder of the day. Before we returned to our apartment, we went to visit the Reina Sofia Museum. Little did we know there would be a metal detector in an art museum!  We all put our bags on the conveyor belt and held our breath as each bag went through the scanner.  Could we get in trouble for having a souvenir dagger with us?  As luck would have it, the security staff happened to look away as my son’s bag went through the scanner, and we all silently breathed a sigh of relief.

Tamara's souvenir dagger from Toledo
Tamara’s souvenir dagger from Toledo

But this is not the end of this story.

At the end of our week in Spain, we were supposed to fly to France.  But all the flights were cancelled when the traffic controllers went on strike. We had always planned to pack that dagger in a checked bag on a plane, but now we were traveling on a train–where all the bags stay with the passengers and go through a metal detector.  We couldn’t be carrying a weapon.  But my son didn’t want to lose his 70 euro dagger, either.  With only minutes till the train left, we decided to rent a storage locker and have friends in Madrid pick it up for us and ship it home to the U.S. But first, we had to go through security in the locker room. So in her best Spanish, my daughter explained that we had a souvenir we were placing in a locker for someone else to pick up.  Still wrapped in its paper packaging, we placed it on the conveyor belt, picked it up at the other end and put it in a locker. The guards never said anything, and we knew we were receiving divine help.  About four months later, my son got his dagger back, and we still have it. It makes for a great story, but you didn’t see the beads of perspiration!  If you just have to have a dagger, have the store you purchase it from ship it home for you!  Enough said.

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From Sarah, who blogs on The Cash Odyssey, and tweets as @TheCashOdyssey:

Worst Travel Memory

A travel memory that makes me blush occurred on a ferry in Greece. I went with 5 friends from college our first semester of freshman year.

After a 2-day marathon tour of Athens, we decided to get some R&R in the Greek Isles, and of course, had to arrive by boat. I enjoy kayaks, row boats, paddle boats, even duck boats (especially duck boats), but I HATE ferries. Our method of transportation? Ferry.

Every time I board a ferry, my stomach feels as if it’s being stretched and torqued into a balloon animal, a needlessly nauseating experience. On this particular journey, my friends and I began discussing how tuna in a can is made (don’t ask – I have no idea why). I passionately pleaded that tuna in a can is raw. And I was absolutely wrong. So everyone was annoyed with me and everyone else, while my bad humor worsened as I searched for the horizon, stomach rolling in sync with the waves.

Though this ferry ride was long and miserable, the people on that trip are still my best friends, and I will never forget that tuna in a can is not raw. Who knew vomit-inducing boat rides to paradise islands were the perfect recipe for lasting friendships?

photo from Sarah's voyage on a Greek ferry
photo from Sarah’s voyage on a Greek ferry

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From Karilyn, who blogs on No Back Home, and tweets as @ciantravels:

Memory of Scents

When thinking of memories one often forgets the senses. Smell has always been a big one for me. With certain scents I can be immediately transported back in time to a specific place.

Chinese incense immediately take me back to innumerable Buddhist temples in China. Diesel fuel transports me back to rural villages in India. But the most long lasting and unaltered scent memory I have is with frankincense and Dubai.

Frankincense is omnipresent in Dubai. It burns in small shops. Clings to people and their clothes as they walk by. It is everywhere. And I have now been on an eternal hunt to replicate that smell at home. I have perfumes, a body wash with saffron and patchouli and actual frankincense rocks that all remind me of Dubai, but nothing that replicates the exact smell of Dubai.

Is it the smell that makes me happy or the feelings of happiness I had while in Dubai that I associate with the scent? Who knows, but I love it!

Karilyn's photo of incense burning in Japan
Karilyn’s photo of incense burning in Japan
Tell me YOUR story!

What is YOUR earliest, most exhilarating, craziest, worst, or senses-based travel memory? Would you be willing to share in the comments below?

Invitation to #WeekendWanderlust Link Up

#WeekendWanderlust, hosted by Chris & Heather from A Brit and a Southerner, Jessi & Tara from Outbound Adventurer, Ashley from A Southern Gypsy, Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren, and yours truly, is a collaborative effort to share travel blog posts, and to discuss all travel-related things.

The hosts organize each week a link up through which travel bloggers from around the world can promote their posts, in exchange for a promise to give some attention to other travel bloggers. (One of the rules for linking up is to comment on three linked up posts.)

If the link up is still open, feel free to add a link to one of your posts below, then comment on three linked up posts. And I welcome comments as well, of course!

#WeekendWanderlust link up logo
#WeekendWanderlust link up badge | to download, right click and “save as” then include it at the end of your post with a paragraph about the link up and links back to the hosts (feel free to use a modified version of the first two paragraphs above)


13 thoughts on “Memorable Travel Experiences: A Collaborative Post”

  1. Jolanta, this is a lovely collection of memories! I am afraid I don’t have any travel pictures from our childhood (oh the sacrifices of crossing the Atlantic with one way tickets!) but the memories of our trips to the Black Sea will always be with me. We did not have many material possessions growing up in the old country, but travelling near and far, at every opportunity was something we always did- as far as I can remember. And my own blog, “celebratetheweekend” is inspired in part by the weekend celebrations of my childhood.
    Victoria @celebratetheweekend recently posted…Boston Weekend. Mother’s Day.My Profile

    1. Thank you for reading, Victoria! That’s so sad that you had to leave the photos behind, but at least you and your family did travel, and you do have those memories, and now you’re creating wonderful memories for your kids as well.

  2. Great memories! One of my memories that taught me a lot was a solo trip to England and India. If it could go wrong, it did! After the first couple things that I totally stressed out over, I began to laugh at everything else. It was a kind of travel ‘cutting of my teeth’. I took a step up in my confidence and ability to handle situations.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Nancie Lee recently posted…Exploring Historic Fortresses – Fort PikeMy Profile

    1. Thank you for reading, Nancie! Sorry to hear about your disaster trip to India, but I’m glad to hear you see it as a learning experience now.

    1. Thank you for reading, Brenda, and for your kind words. Yes, somehow some childhood experiences stay with us for a long time, don’t they?

  3. Great collaboration. This makes me think of my travel memories. We used to drive to Fenwick Island Delaware and stay at a the same beach house for a week. One time, while searching for seashells I got lost. I had been walking with my head down for about 3 hours. I must have been 7 or 8 years old. I wandered around for a while and a life guard noticed me crying. He started signaling the other life guards with their flags and they guided me back my family. It took forever to walk home – I had walked to all the way to Ocean City Maryland!

  4. I love the old picture of your family trip to Poland! Thanks so much for sharing all of these stories. One of my most vivid memories is from right before my sister and I took off for our long backpacking trip. It was the first time we’d been away without our parents, especially for such a long time. We stood in the security line at O’Hare airport where we would board our first flight to Dublin, and suddenly I was terrified! After weeks of excitement and planning, I felt sick to my stomach. It always reminds me that sometimes fear is misplaced, and I’m quickly aware of what I know I can accomplish.

  5. These are great! Regardless the bad experiences, it’s still nice to be able to look back!

    “experiences such as travel over material goods” – I definitely agree with this!! I rather spend my money on experiences than material goods. Ever since backpacking, i gave up a lot on material goods.

    thanks for sharing! :)
    Stacey Valle recently posted…Travel-Themed Graduation Caps IdeasMy Profile

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