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Tell Us About Your Family Vacation From Hell
I'll go first...but I promise, traveling with your kids can be really special, too
Like all parents, I have nightmare stories of traveling with my children. The worst was on Buye Beach on the west coast of Puerto Rico. My 2-year-old daughter left her favorite blanket at home and wouldn’t touch the sand; my six-month-old son had roseola that included a fever and expulsion of fluids from everywhere; and my husband had some version of what ailed our son. I ended up parking my husband on a bench in the Mayaguez Mall and walking the kids around in a double stroller, trying to figure out how to get us all home in one piece.
Years after that vacation from hell, I joined Oldways and started planning amazing culinary journeys abroad, and as my daughter Casey got older, I invited her along with me. Since then, she has become my favorite traveling companion.
Without a doubt, travel changed her life for the better. Traveling can do that.
Her first trip was in 1999. She was about to be 12 years old and hadn’t worn a dress in years. Oldways founder Dun Gifford and I were invited to an elegant wedding in Puglia, Italy, and I told her she couldn’t come unless she wore a skirt of some sort. Eventually, we found something she would wear, and then I went ahead and spilled a glass of red wine in her lap during the plane ride over. She proved herself a trouper.
From Puglia, Dun, Casey and I sailed on an overnight ferry to Greece, sharing the boat with…truckloads full of sheep. This is typical in Greece, but was a surprise to Casey, who was less than thrilled by her ferry companions.
But once we arrived she fell in love with Greece—we climbed the Acropolis and had a heavenly swim in the rooftop pool with a view of the Parthenon, met up with food writer/cooking teacher Aglaia Kremezi, ate grilled fish on the island of Lesbos, and met the most adorable, charming little kitten who instantly won our hearts. We spent the rest of that trip with the little kitten in Dun’s front pocket, and Casey looking on. After that, thanks to Dun, Casey became a fixture on planning trips, even if it meant missing school.
Here are a few of the amazing memories I have traveling with my daughter over the years:
In France, our friend Edouard Cointreau made a point of telling Casey that dinner was his treat, because it was important that her first meal in France was provided by a true Frenchman.
In Beijing, Casey learned to bargain from the wife of one of our travel guests. After that, she took others back to the market and taught them how to bargain, too. She must have learned something, because she’s now a finance whiz at a firm in New York.
In Barcelona, following the Madrid train bombing, Casey and I joined over 1 million citizens in a nighttime march against terrorism, hands held high.
In Iceland at the famous Blue Lagoon thermal spa, 13-year-old Casey was apoplectic when we entered the ladies changing room in our bathing suits, finding that none of the other ladies had their swimsuits on. Of course, we found a hidden spot for her to change, but it was not forgotten.
One summer, sitting in an airline lounge at JFK, Dun and I were on our way to Australia, and I made a call to Casey before taking off. Dun interrupted, asking Casey if she’d like to join us. A bit shocked, she said yes, and Dun chimed in, “it’s a trip of a lifetime.” Dun bought the ticket, and Casey made the trip by herself to meet us there. To this day, we’ve never stopped calling every adventure together…a trip of a lifetime!
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To be sure, every family has had a least one vacation from hell. But as time goes by, the people closest to you may just become your favorite travel companions—that’s what happened for Casey and me! I feel so lucky that I’ve shared so many experiences, from swimming in Greece to shopping in Beijing, with my daughter.
Who will you take with you on your next trip? For your own adventure, with or without children (but why not bring your children!), take a look at the Oldways Culinarias….we promise you, it will be a trip of a lifetime.
Comment Below: What Was YOUR Family Vacation From Hell?
Missed flight? Bickering siblings? A week full of rainy days? If you’ve experienced a family vacation from hell, tell us about it in the comments!
Global-Inspired Recipe: Pasta Amatriciana
Amatriciana was the very first pasta dish my daughter Casey had in Italy! This classic, tomato-y sauce is easy to make for a weeknight or weekend meal. Just a tiny bit of Guanciale, Italian cured pork jowl, adds a distinct ﬂavor and silkiness to this sauce. Look for guanciale at a local specialty food shop or Italian market. If it is unavailable, try using pancetta in its place!
Get the Amatriciana Sauce recipe here
Insider Travel Tip: Take a Tote Bag
Why do we bring all of our guests a tote bag on our culinary tours? They’re the perfect travel accessory! Use them to carry any souvenirs you might pick up during the day, and easily fold them back into your purse or jacket pocket when you’re not using them.
I like to take a tote bag on the plane with me. To avoid fumbling in the aisle of the plane, I always ﬁll a tote bag with any work, newspapers or books I plan to use during the ﬂight. And, I try to remember to take it out just before boarding the plane, so I don’t have to open the wheeled carry-on and ﬁnd what I want to use once on the ﬂight.
Then, after the plane lands and as it is taxiing to the gate, I’m able to put everything back into the tote bag, which is ready to go back into the wheeled carry-on, once I’m in the terminal.
Join me (and some amazing chefs) in Italy
Will you join us in Umbria, or Naples & Amalfi next October? With two fantastic trips in store, it’s hard to choose!
Join us in Umbria if…You're a serious foodie or Italophile. You’ve seen the Colosseum in Rome, and the art museums of Florence, and now you’re ready to venture off the beaten path for a true insider's experience of Italy!
Nestled next to Tuscany, Umbria is an under-the-radar gem known as “the green heart of Italy.” On our tour, you’ll enjoy guided visits to the spectacular hill towns of Umbria (Assisi, Todi, Deruta, Norcia), and special tastings of wine, truffles, cheese, chocolate, plus cooking demos and much more.
We'll be led by Chef Kevin O'Donnell, who spent 3 years living and learning about Italian cuisine in Umbria.
October 2-9, 2022. Learn more here!
Join us in Naples & Amalfi if…you’re ready to try—and learn to make—traditional Neapolitan pizza.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg! We will also explore the stunning Amalfi coastline, tour the ancient ruins of Pompeii, meet with producers of wine, mozzarella, and San Marzano tomatoes, and get special cooking instruction from Chef Michael Lombardi throughout the tour.
October 16-23, 2022. Learn more here!