Why I Travel: A Series

Remember back in the day when I used to blog all the time? Back before Twitter came on the scene or Facebook went mainstream? Well, brace yourself, because I have a series of posts headed your way that will make it seem like 2003-2007 all over again. I'm starting a series called "Why I Travel" where I will attempt to make sense of the tug that yanks me out of this country and across this planet. Here's the first:

It's in My Genes
My love for travel and interest in foreign cultures began before I ever had a passport. I have my maternal grandparents to thank for that. As the head of the University of California Alumni Association, Granddaddy led overseas tours for Cal alumni every year. And every year he and Mamu brought back little dolls from the countries they visited (pictured). The ever-growing shelf of international figurines was a constant presence in my childhood. In this way, my grandparents were my first tour guides. I listened to their stories, reveled in their photographs and treasured their dolls and other souvenirs.

When I took my first trip abroad to France in 1996 at age 14, Mamu and Granddaddy sent brochures and maps of their favorite places in Paris and beyond. When I spent a semester in London, I carted with me a token from my grandparents: a folder of pamphlets, a list of England's hot spots and my great-grandmother's personal account of the Chelsea Flower Show. They were my own personal Lonely Planet guides.

This year the roles were reversed for the first time as my grandparents sought my tips for a good time in Hanoi, Saigon, and Bangkok. It was a moment of pride for me. I was finally able, in some small way, to repay them for all their years of inspiration and advice. But I can never thank them for the fostering in me a love for travel, curiosity of foreign cultures and desire to pack up and go see the world.

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