Over the river and through the woods – BRT’s travel memories
The presents are wrapped and the sleigh is packed. Are you ready to hit the road and make some memories this holiday season? For our BRT team, memory making is always top of mind – whether they’re planning memorable travel experiences for students or reminiscing about their own favorite trips. In the spirit of holiday travels, some of our team members are here to share their favorite travel memories.
Over Thanksgiving week in 2016, I went on a girls’ trip to Paris and London with my mom and four of our family friends. After dinner our first night, we decided to take a bottle of champagne on a nighttime stroll to the Eiffel Tower. Since we had flown in that morning and spent the day exploring the city our sense of time was a little off, but we arrived to the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower exactly at midnight, popped the champagne and toasted our first night of an amazing vacation as the Eiffel Tower sparkled behind us. It was a truly magical moment that I will always remember as the perfect way to kick off a trip.
One of my favorite recurring travel memories is my family’s annual trip to Cape Cod, MA. When I was growing up, we used to go every summer to visit my great grandparents who lived there. My mom’s entire side of the family would go and each family would rent a cottage at Dennis Seashores. Every day we’d walk to the beach, fly kites, build sandcastles, collect seashells, eat lobster, play games, etc. We always traveled shortly after school ended, and my birthday is at the beginning of June, so it also frequently worked out to be an extra special way to celebrate my birthday with everyone!
I didn’t visit Disney World for the first time until I was 21 (sad, I know) so when my husband I planned a trip to bring our kids to Disney, I was over the moon. From their first airplane ride, to meeting Mickey and Minnie and seeing the castle at the Magic Kingdom for the first time coming over on the ferry – all of it was pure magic. A lot of people say that you should wait to bring your kids when they are old enough to remember the trip, but I disagree! The memories that I made as a parent on that trip are ones I will never forget and guess what?? My kids still remember them too!
One of my favorite travel memories is when I proposed to my wife Sarah in Venice, Italy. We enjoyed a glass of prosecco on a gondola ride to the restaurant for our welcome dinner. The gondola dropped us off at the back of the restaurant on a pier. Before we walked inside, I dropped to one knee and asked her to marry me. Thankfully she said yes and we had an amazing trip celebrating in Italy. Venice will always hold a special place in my heart.
A funny travel memory is when I studied abroad in London. There were so many highlights, but the funniest memory is traveling to Oslo, Norway with my now wife, Meg (we met on this trip). We accidentally booked a VERY fancy hotel without knowing, due to not understanding the exchange rate. We came to find out that we had been upgraded to a suite in the hotel for free, but when the bill came, we had paid more than we have ever paid for a hotel room… So we spent a majority of our time in Oslo in a hotel (it was November…).
My favorite RECENT travel memory is flying 35,000 feet in the air above Atwood, Kansas en route to Las Vegas. The Southwest Airlines flight attendants said we were going to play a game (How exciting?? Southwest is known for fun flight attendants). They chose a ‘random’ seat to play the game (come on down, price is right style) and it was MINE!!! I was asked to stand up and as I did, my boyfriend moved into the aisle like he was going to let me get out of our row to go up to play the game, but instead, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! The whole flight clapped and cheered, the flight attendant made me confirm out loud that I said “Yes” (and joked that it would have been a super awkward rest of the flight if I hadn’t). Southwest gave us (and our friends) free drinks the rest of the flight and a bottle of champagne (that we couldn’t open, due to cabin pressure – who knew?). We got to take pictures in the cockpit once we landed too!
One of my favorite travel memories happened not quite a year ago. In 2016, the Western Michigan University football team capped off a 13-0 regular football season with a trip to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It meant so much as I am a graduate of WMU and we (me, my wife, and 2 boys) hit the road en-route to Dallas in the car. We made great memories with several visits outside of the game in Memphis, Dallas, and Kansas City. It was an amazing, memorable family road-trip and all 4 of us had a blast over those 10 days!
This past summer, I had a wonderful time being tour director, chauffeur and interpreter for my mother and three nephews in Germany. For two of my nephews, it was their first trip. I arranged an itinerary that packed full of more Martin Luther Reformation anniversary than they could probably handle, but they were good sports about it all. We have Voges relatives in Germany that I’ve been visiting for almost 25 years and one goal for me has been to introduce my nieces and nephews to these folks, in the hope that friendships are forged that keep the families connected. I felt like this trip accomplished that, and planted seeds that will grow into future encounters between the younger generations. Those who have been with me on these trips appreciate why I keep returning when they see the depth of connection I’ve made with relatives and non-relatives alike.
All time favorite travel memory was a road trip in October 2004 through Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, where my best friend and I took in both an R.E.M. concert (Atlanta) and an Indigo Girls concert (Gainesville). This trip was my first glimpse of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. We also spent time in Hilton Head and Charleston, toured an historic plantation, went on a ghost walk, visited the Margaret Mitchell Museum and cultivated a love of boiled peanuts.
Robb, my boyfriend at the time, and I were visiting our favorite county, Japan. We were at Fushimi Inari, a shrine, which we had visited in the past and both really enjoyed visiting. As we were walking to the top, Robb was walking very quickly which was unusual for him. Once we got to the top, I quickly found out why – he proposed! We are now happily married.
One of my favorite travel memories occurred while escorting a choir in NYC. The choir had the opportunity to perform at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Their voices were absolutely angelic and, along with the magnificence of the Cathedral, many parents/chaperones were overcome with raw emotions. Hearing those voices and seeing tears of joy and pride gave me instant goose bumps and is something I’ll never forget.
A recent favorite memory for me is having a New Year’s Eve dinner at the top of Vail Mountain with Kevin and the girls. We rode up to the top in a gondola where they gave us heated blankets to keep us warm. After a long day of skiing, it was a beautiful way to connect with my family, feeling like we were floating in the clouds.
Whether you’re traveling this holiday season or enjoying time at home with the ones you love, we wish you the happiest of holidays and wonderful New Year. Cheers to memory making, near and far!
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