Travel Ham by Debutante Eileen

Travelers fall into two different categories:
a) Planners
b) Anti-planners

My Dad is a planner.  Family vacations were undertaken with the same level of care as the Allied Invasion, although it’s an unfair comparison as General Patton had far more support staff. My Dad was stuck with my mom and me.

During family vacations we woke with the sun, there was a lot to see. If my mom or I complained my dad would ask with disbelief, “if you wanted to lay about in bed all day doing nothing why did we bother to go on vacation?”  We would sprint from sight to sight and requests for breaks to eat, drink, or go the bathroom were seen as signs of weakness and failure to be a team player. There were whole worlds to be explored and we had only 14 days, thirteen nights.

In University I signed up for a semester in England. My Dad was in a lather. Months and months of travel, so much time to fill, so much to see. He made lists, maps, checklists, packing suggestions. He purchased enough film to outfit a squadron of photo journalists so that no moment of my trip would go unrecorded. I pointed out that my research indicated that England also sold film. My Dad sighed with the patience of one used to working with the very simple.  He pointed out that of course film was available there, but everyone knew it was more expensive, probably inferior foreign film too.

My father pointed out that the seasoned traveler never left home without key items, photocopies of your key travel documents, sufficient film, and a ham.  My Dad was convinced that ham was also an expensive commodity in England and that taking my own lunch meat, a travel ham, could be a lifesaver on the trip. I pictured myself carting it around in a bowling bag and breaking it out on a train to Paris, sharing the wonders of a good honey baked ham with my fellow backpackers. 
 I shared this ham logic with my friends and at my going away party they solemnly presented me with can of processed ham meat.  I took the ham with me everywhere in case of a lunch meat emergency. When the semester ended I set it free at the airport, it didn’t seem right to eat it after all we had been through together.  I doubted the ham could settle in for a solitary life in a kitchen cupboard after its adventures.

 Now that I am grown and capable of organizing my own travel, I rarely plan. It drives my Dad to distraction. How can I fly off with no hotel reservations, no listing of restaurants, without any clear idea of where I am going and what I will see when I get there? What if I miss something? What if I haven’t packed for the right weather? For him the adventure is in the planning, for me it is the telling of the story when it’s over.  When I’m home we’ll share a ham sandwich and I’ll show him the pictures.

12 Replies to “Travel Ham by Debutante Eileen”

  1. Bahahahahahahaha! Oh, boy, I can’t wait for Dad’s reply to this one! (BTW, I think you’re stuck with cutie. Sorry, but you’re on The Debutantes site, yes, it’s slightly feminine 😉 )

    I am a Pre-Planner so that when I’m actually ON the vacation I can be an Anti-Planner. Vacation is no place for guilt! I went to Paris once, never even saw the Eiffel Tower. Okay, that’s totally not true. I’ve never been to Paris. And if I went, I’d spend the night at the Eiffel Tower. But still, I TRY to be that laissez-faire about vacation!

    I can honestly say that I’ve never taken a ham on vacation, and yet I manage to gain weight anyway. *sigh*

  2. Who needs a roaming gnome when you can have a roaming ham?

    I can’t help but wonder where your ham ended up and what sights it might have seen.

    Perhaps there’s a novel here, similar to E. Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes, only yours stars a canned ham, crisscrossing the continents…

  3. That is so sweet. I really get a sense of your dad from this and he’s precious. And I spent my junior year in England, too! And, hey, your dad may well have been right. I do remember eating some pretty pricey meats over there…

  4. My mother took the family to Paris to celebrate her 60th birthday. She brought her own cheese.

    I have graduated, I think, from the pro-planner traveller to the ‘do-as-I-need, take-the-rest-as-it-comes’ traveller. This summer’s “vacations” were all case in point. They weren’t vacations per se as they were work trips with some heavy duty vacationing in the off-hours. When the plans fall through or there aren’t plans to fall on, there will always be a café, a cappuccino and conversation. I know this to be true even in late afternoon, off the beaten track, in winter in Iceland. It was me, the barkeep, coffee and the smell of wet boots. Now who plans on that?

  5. I don’t know where to begin as this story has gotten SO out of hand. This story about the traveling ham started with a comment I made to her about the time she was going off to England in her junior year of college (Or university for you north of the border). Knowing she would be staying in a dorm and that she probably wouldn’t have a refrigerator I suggested a canned ham. This has been blown TOTALLY out of proportion by her. I refer all of you to her ability to exagerate such as her comment in a prior blog about tossing her cookies after the ride on Space Mountain. Talked to her mother about it and she said, “All I remember is that we didn’t eat breakfast that day which was probably a good thing”. (I guess we left the ham at home) She, Eileen, has exagerated this to tossing ther cookies. Once again, if you want to know the REAL story, just ask me.
    Kristy if you gained weight it must have been after the picture was taken.
    Anna, consider yourself adopted. We’ll discuss your allowance and curfew hours later after you get me Bill O’Reilly’s autograph.
    Eileen’s Dad
    Deb Mascot In Training

  6. I have it on good authority that Eileen’s mom (“The Saint”) and Eileen’s dad (aka “Travels-With-Ham”) are planning a vacation in the next year or two. As I am greatly appreciative of all of his support for our grog, I say we chip in and buy him a copy of the “Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel.”
    In perusing it, I found excellent tips for Escaping from a Car Hanging from a Cliff, Jumping from Rooftop to Rooftop, What to Do When a Sandstorm’s Heading Your Way or When Your Camel Just Won’t Stop (that’s one of my favorites! You never know when that might come in handy, plus it’s just a good skill to know). I say, if he wants to plan, let’s help him plan! You can never be too prepared, can you?

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