For every one reason to be thankful for travel, there are plenty more that trail behind it. Those who are fortunate enough to hit the road -- near or far -- know well that it offers the opportunity to see stunning landscapes, meet new people, experience different cultures, savor delicious cuisine, and above all, come home with lasting memories that linger with us during our mundane everyday routines. Here at Oyster.com, we're lucky enough to call travel our 9-to-5, so we'd like to show our gratitude for the big and beautiful world out there. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we shared the travel memories we're most thankful for. What's yours?
Visiting the Mountains in Northern California
“I’ve been to a lot of countries and stayed in some truly spectacular hotels, but I find that nowhere makes me as grateful for the world and my place in it as the mountains in Northern California. As a kid, I went every summer to a rustic ‘resort’ (think: camping-meets-cabins) in the Trinity Alps, which are far less convenient, and less appreciated, than the Sierra Nevada (and Lake Tahoe). This also means that they feel more isolated — it’s easy to go hiking there and never see another soul. And the scenery is absolutely spectacular — some of the most beautiful in the world, and I feel qualified to make that claim, having also seen plenty of more ‘famously’ beautiful settings, such as the fjords in Norway. There is nothing like the majesty of nature to put things in perspective and make your worries drop away.” — Kelsey Blodget, Senior Executive Editor
Traveling With Dad to Alaska
“‘Family vacation.’ These words were followed by a deep sigh when I explained to my friends that I would be spending my vacation days visiting my father. I was in my early twenties at the time, and I wanted to be jet-setting off to fancy European capitals where the paparazzi would stake out the latest It Girl — not bobbing around in a soggy tug boat in Alaska with my dad. But it was that very trip that changed not only the way I view the world, but the way I view myself. Now that my father’s in poor health, I know the truth: It always seems like we have unlimited time, but we only get so long together. My vacation days were never better spent.” — Maria Teresa Hart, Editor
Spending Christmas Eve in Hammocks on the Beach in Mexico
“I am innately a planner, but 20 years ago, my mother inadvertently instilled in me a hearty dose of travel agility. She, my sisters, and I spent that Christmas in the Yucatán Peninsula — mainly Merida and Tulum. My free-spirited mom was running the show and she wanted to not bother with hotel reservations, so that we could explore as we pleased. Come Christmas Eve, we realized that every hotel in the area was completely booked (this was before Tulum was the tourist mecca it is today, but obviously we weren’t the only ones who wanted to wake up there on Christmas morning). One very sweet hotel owner took pity on us and told us we were welcome to sleep on the hammocks on the beach in front of his hotel. So we did! He even gave us a stack of heavy Mexican blankets. Of course, in my pre-teen brain at the time, this was a total disaster and conclusive evidence of my mother’s complete incompetence. When she trudged from her two palm trees over to my two palm trees to “tuck me in,” I tried to do my signature “go away mom” turnover, but these were banana hammocks and my dramatic flop resulted me face down in the sand.
Since we were traveling for Christmas, we didn’t really do gifts that year, but the next morning, my oldest sister did give me a CD (my very first one!): the “Romeo and Juliet” soundtrack, which I still listen to to this day (only now through iTunes, admittedly). I immediately wrapped myself in my blanket, curled up in my hammock, stared at the ocean, and heard Radiohead for the very first time. Looking back, I don’t even know where I got the Discman, because lord knows I was still rocking the Walkman at that point. I’ll assume it came from the ever-helpful hotel owner. Even without the transformative “Talk Show Host” moment, and even with all of the crazy on-the-road mishaps my family and I have had over the years, our Christmas Eve night in hammocks on a Mexican beach is hands-down my favorite travel memory. Every time I think of it, it makes me smile and feel thankful that all of the hotels in Tulum were at full capacity that night.” — Anne Olivia Bauso, Associate Editor
Vacationing With Mom in Europe
“Honestly, every travel experience (in my adult life) has made me feel grateful in some way, but it’s my first international trip that really stands out. To celebrate high school graduation, my mom and I took a two-week trip to London, Paris, and Rome. Being able to see dozens of historic sites, renowned artwork, and different cultures at 18 is not something many barely-adults get to do. I still feel extremely fortunate that my parents gave me that gift and helped inspire me to visit, learn about, and connect with people around the world.” — Lara Grant, Associate Editor
Finding a Second Home in Madrid
“I went to Madrid a year ago. It wasn’t my first time in Spain, but there were a lot of things happening here — back home — that I didn’t love any more. So I went and I got seduced by the art and the food and the people and the language and the whole pace of the city. I spent the next several months in New York plotting my escape — I researched teaching programs and visas and housing costs and insurance and taxes. I started saying goodbye to friends, telling my family, buying tickets, and all of that. And when it came down to it, I didn’t go. It’s not that I’m grateful that I’m missing out on that experience. I think the thing I’m grateful for is what Madrid gave me: the certainty that there’s another place on this planet that I could easily call home, and that — until I’m ready — I can keep returning to it with a sense of comfort and exhilaration I don’t feel anywhere else.” — Kyle Valenta, Editor
Getting Pulled Over in New Mexico
“One of my absolute favorite memories from a month-long cross-country road trip I took with my boyfriend a few years ago is when we got pulled over in New Mexico. You must think I’m crazy — cop confrontations and favorite memories don’t typically go hand-in-hand, after all. Admittedly, I was driving a touch over the speed limit, but in my defense, there was not another car in sight that night — and I was anxious to reach the hotel after a long, 15-hour day of being behind the wheel. Nonetheless, the bespectacled sheriff sauntered over to our fatigued Honda Civic, as thoughts of fear and frustration paraded around in my mind. After asking for license and registration, he noticed that I was from White Plains, a city in Westchester, New York. He mentioned that he knew the area well, and suddenly, the world felt small.
The sheriff, who seemed less daunting now that we found common ground, asked what we were doing in the area — in the dead of night, no less — and we filled him in on our journey. Within minutes, the conversation shifted from breaking the road rules to him offering us attraction recommendations along our route. Sure, I was thankful we didn’t end up getting that ticket, but even better, he offered us a tip to check out one of the most spectacular sights I’ve laid eyes on to date — Monument Valley, a vast area that’s packed with red sandstone buttes. It’s something I feel very fortunate to have witnessed in person — and wouldn’t have experienced had it not been for this friendly local.” — Alisha Prakash, Editor
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