As a kid, I always thought that exotic vacations were exclusively reserved for the wealthy and fortunate.
And at eleven years old, I definitely wasn’t one of those people.
In grade school and throughout high school, my parents were determined that our education would not be contingent on how much money we had. My mom worked her tail off to make sure that we were in the best school districts and we had a shot at being anything that we set our minds to. At first, being an innocent little girl I didn’t know the wiser, but as I matured, I started to realize that because the education was better, the pockets of my classmates parents’ were a little fatter too.
It became more and more evident that there were luxuries we just didn’t have in comparison to some of the wealthier families. We didn’t grow up poor, but we didn’t always have the bells and whistles. My parents always did what they could to give us the things that we wanted and to make sure that we fit in, but we couldn’t always keep up with the Joneses.
At the beginning of each school year, it was common for many of the popular students to come back with glowing summer tans, sandy flip-flops and brand new Bermuda shorts. Stories of swimming with dolphins, finding a shark’s tooth, and photos with Mickey Mouse filled the hallways and the cafeteria.
Innocently, my classmates and friends would ask me,
“So Paige, where did YOU go this summer?!”
Usually, my brothers and I would spend our summers catching up on Disney Channel movies, playing our retro Game Cube, rolling around in the grass, and racing our bikes around the neighborhood — the good ol’ days. To my classmates, it didn’t sound very special but for us, that was all that we needed. So instead of admitting that my parents couldn’t afford 5 round trip tickets to Hawaii to take us on a fancy trip, I would sheepishly come up with a white lie to draw as little attention to myself as possible.
Every year I came up with something different. I always found a sweet response to hide the fact I just didn’t have “one of those families”. I had always dreamed of what it would be like to skip town for a week and experience paradise. Little did I know that this reality was much closer than I could imagine.
Fast forward about twelve years.
I’m now twenty-three and living on my own in a cozy downtown apartment. I have a big girl job where I spend my days 9-5 in a cubicle instead of a school classroom. I also live in Arizona now, so basically every day is like summertime — or like living in hell, depending on who you ask.
It wasn’t until I started dating my boyfriend a few years ago that my outlook on adventure and vacation completely changed. For the first time in my life, instead of daydreaming of the places that I wish I could go, we wrote them down on a tattered piece of notebook paper and put them under a cheap magnet on the fridge.
We scribbled down every place that we’d ever considered, from the easy road trips to close to home to surfing the warm waters of Jamaica and hung them up for all to see. Perhaps, it was our way of manifesting the things to come, or our way of tricking ourselves into thinking that our travel bucket list wasn’t impossible.
We crossed off all of our bucket list places last year and saw new states, landscape, and cruised far enough until there was no land as far as the eye could see.
And this year, we’re taking it up a notch.
2018 is a special year for my boyfriend and I. He reaches the milestone birthday of 25 — finally he can buy a rental car and insurance rates go down! I will also celebrate my golden birthday…all within five days of one another. To celebrate, we’re taking a trip that I used to think that I’d only see through Sandal’s commercials or on YouTube.
We’re going to the Caribbean!
For five days, we will set sail on the warm Atlantic seas and visit the Nassau and Half Moon Cay islands of the Bahamas, and Grand Turk island of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Not to mention that we will be leaving from Miami so we may also get to meet a few gators along the way!
What makes this trip so exciting — other than the obvious fact that we are exploring outside of the country for the first time — is that this trip was so cheap that I feel like I’m stealing!
I’m a pretty frugal person and try to save pennies where I can, so this vacation was no exception. For five days on various islands we are supplied with cruise amenities, endless free food, and unforgettable memories for less than the cost of a plane ticket back home to Ohio! Like come on, where’s the catch?!
We have plans to swim with dolphins, feed stingrays, go snorkeling in the reef, and ride the crashing waves on a speedboat. Fortunately, this won’t be our first cruise, but it will absolutely be the best one yet!
To date, we have a total of 193 days, 20 hours, and 53 minutes left on the countdown until we take the trip of a lifetime!
As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that with a little planning, the spirit of adventure, and saving a few extra coins, I too can be one of those fancy folks who has a silly tan line from my sunglasses and stories of an extravagant vacation. Stay tuned for lots of stories and pictures from the Carnival Sensation!
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