A Travel Blogger’s Goodbye
Talk about travel changing the course of your life. I arrived at Travelocity shortly after college with a narrow view of the world and a slightly bitter attitude because I had to do this thing called work. Little did I know that work would not only broaden my view of the world, but it would also expand my outlook on life, taking me to places near and far and allowing me to explore a deeper side of myself. Ultimately, work lead me to the very place that has completely won over my heart: San Francisco.
So it is with love and gratitude that I find myself saying goodbye to Travelocity. The opportunity to write and talk about travel has been more than just a job; it has been and always will be one of my most treasured experiences.
As a travel advocate, I have always said that exploring different places and cultures makes you into a better version of yourself. Over the past decade, I’ve stepped onto four continents, talked to people of varying nationalities and eaten (sometimes unidentifiable) local fare. Because of this, I am without a doubt, a better version of myself.
My friends in Canada have taught me that they’re more than just an extension of my own American culture; it’s a unique destination that is often underrated but definitely worth exploring.
In South Korea, I learned that people who eat crickets, worms and roaches are just as civilized as we are. (That still didn’t convince me to try the little critters, though.)
Traveling through Italy with my Gram was further proof that the shared experience of travel does indeed make the heart grow fonder, if that was even possible.
My trip down under showed me there’s more to Australians than just their sexy accents…although that still remains tops on my list of reasons to visit.
While travel is certainly one of life’s must-dos, all of my country hopping has made me appreciate the place I call home even more. Needless to say, within the walls of Travelocity, I have managed to find a better version of myself along with many other great loves.
Happy travels to you.
My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.
(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)
Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!
My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!
Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.
View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!