My most memorable trips from when I was a kid

by Charlie Leocha on February 2, 2013

Paestum Italy
Recently, I was speaking with friends about the importance of travel when we were kids. I recalled how much I learned and they shared similar experiences. We were a group of military brats who had grown up at bases in Europe and the United States.

We shared some of the most memorable trips we took and sights that made the most impression on us. Here are some of mine with quick vignettes about my experience and what I remember most

What are some of your first travel memories?

Paestum, Italy
I first went to Paestum when I about 6 years-old. I always remembered the towering Greek temples. About 10 years later, I returned and realized this was the place that I had remember. These ruins are south of Naples, Italy. They are perhaps the best-preserved Greek temples in the world.

Catacombs_RomeRome, Italy — Colosseum, Catacombs, St. Peters
My first trips to Rome were when I was 5 and 6. Later I returned many time while I was going to high-school in Naples, Italy. This city always impressed me. However, as a kid, it was the catacombs — dark, dank and scary — that I remembered the most.

Williamsburg, Virginia
My first trip was in elementary school, about 5th grade. It made me crazy to learn more about the Revolutionary War. I loved the idea of pretending that I was living in the past. Williamsburg gave the chance to actually do it.

Niagra Falls
Wow! That’s what I remember saying when we walked across the street from the parking lot and leaned on the railing overlooking the falls from the Canadian side. I was fascinated with stories of people surviving falls over the falls. I remember a guy who went over in a waterproof iron ball. I forget whether he made it alive or perished.

VEnice_GondolasVenice, Italy
For a kid nothing is as magical as a city where there are no cars. Way back when in the 1960s I got to go on my first gondola ride. It may have been just across the canal, knowing how frugal my Dad was, but I still remember.

Factory Tours
Between 7th and 8th Grade, my family spent a month in the summer traveling from factory to factory across the Northeast and Midwest. I saw steel being made in Pittsburgh, Upjohn vitamin pills and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes being made in Kalamazoo, Fords being manufactured at The Rouge in Detroit, tires being spun at Goodyear in Dayton, beer being brewed at Miller in Milwaukee, Kodak cameras being assembled in Rochester, Corning glass being extracted in Corning and more.

Old IronsidesThe Constitution in Boston
We did lots of trips to see historical sights. Clambering onto the Constitution up the gangplank, standing on the helm, climbing over ropes and around cannons was exciting.

Campsites in Europe
Camping in Europe during my high-school years was always a blast. I got to see the moon landing at a beach campsite near Pisa, Italy, surrounded by Italians, Dutch, Germans, French and Scandinavians. On that day the world was truly international. Everyone was hugging each other and dancing together and chanting, “We did it.”

Subways of New York
I lived in New York City for a semester during 2nd Grade. The subways were always awe-inspiring. I loved the Horn and Hardart Automat and the Bronx Zoo.

Bicycling in Amsterdam
When we were camping in Europe, my folks would rent bikes for us. Everyday, we rode through Amesterdam alongside canals. Later we got to do the same in Copenhagen. Those days of biking freedom and friendly campsites were special.

Salt Mines of Salzburg, Austria
Descended into these mines while I was in high-school. The trip down deep underground via long slides on big pieces of leather were exciting, but not as exciting as riding the train back sitting astride a big log with my arms around a cute British girl.

Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
We had so much fun at this museum back in the mid-60s that we went back twice. I still remember being able to climb down into a submarine and the endles buttons to push and lessons that I learned thinking I was just having fun.

What are some of your first travel memories?

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  • Gerhard

    First Atlantic crossing on a ship when I was 4years old. In the winter storms!

  • http://www.tripso.com/author/leocha Charlie Leocha

    Great memory. During my transatlantic crossing at the age of 4 I had the chicken pox and spend most of the voyage in the stateroom. My return trip 4 years later was on the SS Constitution and my brother and I had a blast exploring every nook and cranny of the ship.

  • http://twitter.com/kvfawcett Karen Fawcett

    I will never forget seeing the Eiffel Tower on my first trip to Europe. I was half asleep after the overnight flight but it got my attention. It made an indelible impression.

  • Carchar

    I didn’t travel much as a child, but we took our children camping all summer when they were young. My husband was a teacher and I didn’t work outside the home in those days. We chose an area of the U.S. to explore and on July 4th weekend, we were off. We’d visit the national parks, state parks, museums and recreational areas. On Labor Day weekend, we’d return to get ready for school. By the time each child opened her 3rd grade U.S. geography book, she could tell her teacher that she had been to almost every place in it. Then inflation happened, and we couldn’t do it any more. Our daughters still remember those memorable adventures and regret that they can’t do that with their kids.

  • TonyA_says

    I am surprised you didn’t mention the “window displays” in Amsterdam (Wallen district). How can any teenage boy forget that :-)

  • bodega3

    Disneyland went it first opened. San Francisco at Xmas time. San Francisco during opening day on the bay. The Ave of the Giants. Yosemite and the fire falls. Locke, CA. Angel Island. Crusing the CA Delta on a moonlit night. The Meadows, in the CA delta where we spent the evening on an island of someone we met and had to ride a bike to generate power to watch TV. Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur and Hearst Castle. Not one plane trip…all driving trips with the family.

  • MeanMeosh

    My dad hated to fly so we road tripped everywhere. I had been to something like 42 states by the time I’d finished high school. The most memorable if those trips for me was a trip to Yellowstone when I was 13. That trip more than anything got me hooked on the power of nature, and I have been a huge fan of national parks (both here and abroad) since. I remember my siblings hated those long road trips – but my dad’s pastime rubbed off on me, and the great road trip became my #1 hobby once I started working.

  • bodega3

    I think we do on injustice to our kids if we don’t see our own country first. I applaud what you did.

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