Vignettes in a History of Family Travel

by Sandra Foyt on January 19, 2012

in Travel Essays

On this, the official second birthday of Albany Kid, I’m launching a new family travel series – Vignettes in a History of Family Travel.

Pregnant in the Virgin Islands

For the past couple of years, a friend’s comment has been burrowing under my skin, a splinter that resisted pulling, until late last year. A group of homeschool moms and I were chatting, as moms are wont to do when the kids are otherwise occupied, when one mom commented on the wasteful expense of having pears flown in from Italy.

I immediately remembered the care packages filled with mangos that my college buddy received. Not just any mangos. Not the tasteless, pulpy lumps found at local Price Choppers. No, these were mangos picked at their prime from the tree in front of her home – red and yellow and orange, redolent of salt and sun and love.

It must have cost a hefty sum to ship those heavy packages, not knowing if they would even get to the intended recipient. But they were worth every penny to a parent missing a child at college, and to a girl missing her home.

I was reminded of this conversation last month, at a meeting with our financial planner. It was a tough love kind of discussion between the budgeting expert, my husband, and myself where we were trying to figure out how to juggle the competing big ticket items: mortgage, tuition, retirement, groceries, teens.

“Mrs. Foyt, you can realize real savings if you reduce spending for your hobby – travel.”

“Travel…a hobby?” I never thought of the journeys as a hobby; maybe a compulsion, possibly an obsession. More like a vital and necessary line item.

Why Travel?

For me, travel with kids is not a luxury so much as it is a necessity, springing from an irrepressible desire to see friends, family, and homelands. Family travel is how we connect the displaced village raising our children.

As currently envisioned, Vignettes in a History of Family Travel will be a series of travel essays exploring why and how we travel with kids through the lens of my family’s experience traveling frequently from our home base in Albany, NY to Florida, California, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands; and less frequently on The Big Trips: Argentina, Czech Republic, Vietnam,  Across America Road Trips, and various points in Europe – British Isles Cruise, Sicily, and Paris.

When I started this project, I thought of it as one long but tidy blog post that would lead up to THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT of the next BIG TRIP. But as I reached 2000 words in an article that was far from finished, I realized that this was no blog post. Duh. I’m not even sure what it is. Plans and visions are going out the window. Instead, I’ll just do it. And I’ll keep you posted on progress. OK?

As for the next big trip, we’re going to Nepal this summer. We’ll budget elsewhere.

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email:, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

Lisa January 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I tend to think of travel as a necessity of life. I would cut back in a lot of places before I would give up traveling.

walkingon travels January 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Travel as a hobby? Is he nuts?! It’s definitely a necessity. Like you our village is scattered. Just to see family we have to travel 3000 miles east. Having missed out on knowing a lot of my family when I was growing up, I don’t want the same for my son. I won’t even get into our more adventurous family travels that take us around the world and really bond us closer together. Thanks for this post!

Steve January 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I’m thinking the only one of those categories that travel would get cut before would be groceries, but I’m not 100% sure of that one either. Did Mr. Foyt cringe when he heard your financial planner suggested cutting your travel budget?

Sandra Foyt January 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm

We both cringed, and resolved to eat less.

Marsha January 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Right with ya! Something in me would shrivel up and die if I couldn’t travel. Yes, it’s that serious.

Jen January 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Sandra-This is just one of the many reasons we get along so well! 😉 As I look around my house at the things that are in need of updating (but not necessities like new couches, updated bathroom flooring, etc), they are overshadowed by the pictures hanging all over my house of my family in various cities around the world. I was miserable the year we had to cancel a major vacation we had tentatively planned because we couldn’t afford it after replacing the water heater, air conditioning and heater all within 6 weeks of each other. And I love your comment above about resolving to eat less…it cracked me up!

Jessica January 20, 2012 at 1:34 am

Traveling is a necessity here too, and I can’t believe anyone would suggest otherwise.:). Who needs retirement savings anyway?

Justine Ickes January 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

This line is priceless! “Family travel is how we connect the displaced village raising our children.” I can’t imagine not traveling. It’s just opens up so many doors and gives us a window into other cultures. And you’re going to Nepal? Fantastic! And here I thought my plan to take my kids to Turkey for three months this summer was daring. 🙂 I hiked to Annapurna South years ago. Are you planning to do a trek? It’s such a fascinating country. I can’t wait to hear about it on your blog, Sandra.

Mac February 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I have not been to Nepal, although a teacher I had went and showed us slides. It was amazing. I have been to Tibet. The Himalayas are beautiful and the people are as well.
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