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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

Father’s Day special: family travel tips

My parents on vacation in France a few years back. Photo by my brother, William Etling II.

My parents on vacation in France a few years back. Photo by my brother, William Etling II.

 In honor of Father’s Day, I want to give great thanks to my father and mother, who taught me how to travel. I’ve compiled a few of their respective travel tips below. Thanks to them, I saw the majority of the Continental U.S., much of Canada, Hawaii, the British Isles  and a big chunk of Europe before I was 20. Along the way, they imparted the following wisdom. These were not necessarily things they told me, but mostly things Will (my brother) and I absorbed. Take a few of them with big grains of salt.

Tips from my Dad:

1. Take a lot of photos. You might never be here again.

2. Write a journal. It’s going to be hard to remember all the places when you’re on the road for awhile.

3. It’s OK to take the rental car over curbs. (In some cases, it may be OK to throw away parking tickets left on rental cars.)

4. Get up early and walk around. You’ll see a place in its best light and with fresh eyes.

5. Do stuff. Take a canoe on a lake, visit a museum, take a hike. When you’re tired of doing stuff, drive in the car for a long way. (8 hours in the car is an OK day. Over 12 qualifies for superhero status. This is an Etling tradition. If you go over 10 hours, you get to buy Toblerone candy from the hotel minibar.)

6. If you see a souvenir you really want, and you know they won’t have it anywhere else, it’s OK to buy it.

7. Sometimes hotels are expensive. That’s why you save money for a rainy day.

From my mom:

1. Plan ahead. Get all the information you can and absorb as much of it as you can before you leave.

2. Look for bakeries.

3. Walk a lot.

4. If no one is in a restaurant, do not eat there.

5. Be in a good mood.

6. Be frugal.

From both my parents:

Appreciate where you are, look at what’s around you, and really soak it in!

Much of our travel history comes from my dad’s side of the family. Here’s a picture of his dad, Ben Etling, with a fish he caught at Houghton Lake on an early fishing/camping trip with his parents.

Ben Etling

Ben Etling

He was an only child, but he and my Grandmother Etling have 4 sons, and they used to take epic summer road trips that would involve things like driving across the U.S. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina to California (with a side trip to Grandma E’s home state of Wisconsin on the way back.) A legendary family story is of the time my dad woke up from sleeping in the car with his brothers and saw my grandfather asleep on a picnic table, off of the turnpike.

One of the best trips we took when my brother and I were little was to Payment Lake in Wisconsin, longtime summer retreat for the Prellwitz family. I got to catch sunfish off the dock with the help of my Great Grandmother Prellwitz, who cleaned and fried them up for dinner.

Will and I at Payment Lake.

Will and I at Payment Lake.

I want to thank my family for all the wonderful travel memories, and wish my dad and grandfathers a very happy Father’s Day.

Just to complete the circle and get back to today’s travels, here’s a link to a photo essay of barns by my brother (now a photographer and graphic illustrator for Good Magazine in LA), published today on Edhat.

And a scenic shot of hay rolls from today.

Farm life.

Farm life.

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1 Comment»

  shermanset the waybackmachine wrote @

I heard that your folks once drove from Stratford-on-Avon to Lucerne, Switzerland in one day. They must be certifiably insane.
love, Dad
Good tips!


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