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By Claire Davies with Sue Davies

Now entering her 89th year, my mother wanted to see the world since she was a child growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City in the 1930s. She wasn’t able to take her first trip internationally until she was in her 60s, but she covered a lot of ground after that. China was her first destination. And then, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Germany, Austria, Poland, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Canada, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. In honor of her 89th birthday, I am sharing some of my mother’s short travel stories from around the world.


Short Travel Stories by Mom

This post has been updated–my mother is now celebrating her 90th year.

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Hi this is Claire, Sue’s mom. The lovely gift of a report of my travel experiences by my daughter completely surprised me. I was amazed at the warm responses from strangers and touched by the fact that some people were inspired by my travel. I had absolutely no idea that she was doing this. It required her going through many, many photo albums. Upon my return from a trip, I not only placed photos in albums but wrote about my experiences and information about the country I was in. This ranks number 1 on my lengthy birthday gift list and helped make my day wonderful. Thank you to all who responded. You are deeply appreciated. Claire Davies, November 2018

I love that my mother had a chance to travel to more than 20 countries and to have adventures all over the world. And, many of these trips were in the early 1990s when it was not as easy to travel to remote places like Zimbabwe, Morocco, Indonesia and Nepal. She was even in South Africa 4 months after apartheid ended and Mandela became president. She traveled with groups as a woman in her 60s and 70s and wandered on her own as much as she could. The last trip she did out of the country was to Mexico with Reggie and me when she was 80. I hope to have these kind of adventures into my 80s, too.

My mother turns 89 this month and I am sharing these short travel stories in honor of her birthday.

First Trip–China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore

Short Travel Stories by Mom

Mom at a Temple In Thailand. 1990


The first time flying overseas by myself at age 60, going to some place that I had always wanted to go to–China. It was amazing–seeing how the rest of the world lived. I saw a lot more than China. I went to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Bali and Singapore. It made me want to do even more. But mostly, I realized that no matter how much one travels, there are so many more places to go to and see. The world is a wonderful, large place.

Boat Goes Aground in China

While I was in China on a river cruise, our boat went aground. We stepped off the boat on bridge of shaky boards that some Chinese men put down for us.  There I was, stepping from slippery stone to slippery stone. I got off the boat and then realized how far we had to walk. I thought I couldn’t make it. What was I doing there, halfway around the world alone on some slippery rocks?

Almost Missing the Plane in Singapore

When we were in Singapore, my tour wasn’t going to Sentosa and I really wanted to go there. I set off to see the Island on our last morning in Singapore. We were running late on the way back so we decided to take a taxi. We arrived just before the group was leaving for the airport. Entering the lobby, we suddenly panicked. It was the wrong hotel. The concierge immediately got us another taxi and off we went to the right hotel. We arrived, ran upstairs to retrieve our bags. We barely made it to the airport on time.

Packing for a Trip

I never know exactly what I want to wear or what I will need when I go on a trip so I pack everything. One time in China, I was at the airport and they called me into the office and questioned me. They wanted to know why I had so many bags. They must have thought that I was smuggling or something. I was scared. And maybe even cried a little. After a little while they let me go. I was so relieved. I still take everything that I want on a trip.


My daughter has spent a lot of time in Asia, but she hasn’t been to India yet.


India-Beyond the Taj Mahal

Short Travel Stories by Mom

Mom in India. 1995

I went to India more than 20 years ago. The Taj Mahal is beautiful. But there are many other things that are never spoken of that are also pretty amazing. I think those things that are talked about the most might not be the most impressive. Maybe because you’ve gotten to expect so much from them. In India, the temples with rows and rows of carved people in different forms and shapes on floor after floor was quite amazing. Perhaps as amazing as the Taj Mahal. Being in India and seeing cows walking around free in railroad stations and anywhere that they wanted. That was another experience.

Africa–Animals Free, People In Cages

I always wanted to go to Africa. In 1993, I went for a month to Kenya and Tanzania. I also went into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls and to South Africa in 1994. I loved that the animals were free. And, that we kind of were caged up. We saw a lion eating a kill–a zebra. To see them in their natural habitat was something I will always remember. The only time that I didn’t feel caged up was at the Karen Blixen Conservatory where they rescued animals. The giraffes ate out of my hand. That was an experience.

Short Travel Stories by Mom

Lion in Africa on Safari in Kenya and Tanzania. 1995

Turkey and the Blue Mosque

I took a trip to Greece which ended up in Istanbul, Turkey. I was also connecting with another group coming into Istanbul 2 days later. So, I had 2 days in Istanbul totally on my own. That’s how I would have liked to do all my travels–on my own. And I found those days as the most refreshing of all the trips because I could get up when I wanted to get up, go where I wanted to go, eat at whatever time I wanted to eat. The freedom of that was great experience. I felt free.

The temples in Turkey were very, very beautiful. The Blue Mosque in particular. We could never create what was created those hundreds, thousands of years ago.

One of my free days, a guy approached me to come to his carpet shop.  He was flirting with me and offered to take me to the Casino that night. I turned him down, naturally. That night I took a taxi to the casino and had a wonderful evening. They had a buffet with all kinds of food. I sat at the table, playing and enjoyed myself. Years later, I was on a gambling boat in Florida and met a dealer from Turkey. He told me that the casinos were shut down in Turkey and they no longer allowed gambling. Times have changed in Turkey and it made me sad. It was really a lovely casino.

Short Travel Stories by Mom

Mom in Egypt. 1995

Egypt-Feeling so Small

I loved Luxor. Abu Simbel is quite amazing. The figures are so tall, you’re like an insect standing next to them. I am so amazed that the structures that were built so very, very, very long ago are still existing where our houses that were built 100 years ago are falling apart.

The more you travel, you realize how very, very large the world is and how little you really have traveled.

Morocco a Market During Ramadan

In 1993, Morocco was a place where they really tried to keep people together. Even when we went to a market, they tried to keep us as a group. But I really liked wandering on my own. One day, we were coming back to the hotel and I persuaded the driver to let me off. It was during Ramadan and I was the only caucasian in the market. I went to a local market and wandered around. Had a wonderful time. I took a taxi back to the hotel and the driver was morose. I didn’t understand why. When I got back to the hotel, the people in my group came rushing up and hugging me. Then the told me that a Jewish man had gone into a Mosque and killed dozens of people. They were worried that something would happen to me. I was sad to hear what happened. It was wrong. One of the things that saddened me when I went to Israel was to see the level of animosity on both sides. It made me think there would never been peace there.

Short Travel Stories by Mom

Ecuador with daughters Sue and Robin in 2001

Ecuador During a Volcano Eruption

For my 72nd birthday, I went to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with my two daughters–Robin and Susan. We arrived in Quito and I was excited to see South America. I’d never been to South America. We had all of these tours set up. It was the only time I was ever going to be there and I wanted to see as much as I could. When we woke up in the morning, we got a phone call that all of our tours were cancelled. A volcano had erupted just outside of Quito. There was gray ash all over the street. But it was my only 2 days in Quito! There were no taxis, bus and even the airport was shut down. A young man and his wife were driving by. They offered to drive us around the city for the day. They were wonderful. So that’s how we got to see Quito.

Short Travel Stories by Mom

Mom and Lonesome George. The last Pinta Island Tortoise on Galapagos Island. 2001

Italy During a Taxi Strike

I had 2 days in Rome on my own. There was a taxi strike and I made my way around the city on foot, bus, trolley and subway. It was the wildest public transportation system. First, I would find somewhere that sold tickets. It was never near the stop. They would be out of tickets, so I would set off to find another place. I spent a lot of time trying to explain what I wanted–they did not speak English and I didn’t speak Italian. Then I would walk back to the stop and wait. Once the bus came, I would try to fight my way on–it was packed like a sardine can. One time, an elderly woman tried to keep me off the bus even though my friends were already on. It was quite an experience.


Eastern Europe

I started out in Germany which I never thought I would go to. I didn’t want to bring my money to Germany. It’s not fair and it was long ago. Hitler was a crazy man. What I can’t understand is people following him. The same way that I can’t understand what is going on in our country right now. But I did go to Germany. We went to Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. I went to Auschwitz. I felt it was the right thing for me to do to pay homage to what happened there. Terrible place. All that I see when I think of Auschwitz, there was lots of things I saw. But the thing that kind of hits me was that glass window with piles and piles of children’s shoes. That sticks in my head.

Final Words

The things I most learned from my travels is that the world is an enormous place. And, you can never see it all. Visiting for a month is not the same as living in a place. I wish that I could keep on traveling and see more of the world.

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Please leave a Comment. What do you think about my mother’s short travel stories from the early 1990s? Have you been to some of these places?

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Take a trip to China, Egypt, Singapore, Africa, Morocco and Ecuador in these Short Travel Stories. Boats run aground, volcanos erupt, taxi strikes and more. #travelforlifenow #mom'stravelstories