Wow. What a great thread.
My Dad had wanderlust and, before the 1939-45 War, hitch-hiked around much of Europe. After the war, he used his role in the army to travel around and would take my mother and me with him whenever he could, so travel was in my blood right from the beginning.
In the early '50s, he managed to get a job teaching in new Zealand, so we all moved over there. Every summer the family (now 6 of us) would pile into our family car and explore a new part of NZ until in 1959 he and Mum decided that they would go back to the UK.
I spent my teen years growing up in London but every year during school holidays we would all travel through different parts of Europe, sometimes camping, sometimes staying with friends, sometimes staying in cheap hotels.
I was 14 when I was first allowed to travel to France on my own to stay with a family arranged through my school. I did this the next two years staying with different families and then, when I was 17, took off on my own to hitch-hike around the south of France and Spain. The next year, I got a job in a circus for the summer holidays and travelled all over Normandy and Brittany with them (I could speak reasonable french by then).
When I left school at 19, I decided to volunteer to work for a charity in a small west african country that no longer exists but, the day before I was due to leave, there was a coup there and my visa was cancelled. I never did get to go.
My own travel bug was roused by now, though, so I decided to go and visit a girl I had stayed in touch with in New Zealand. along with a cousin who had also grown up in NZ I took off down the hippie trail across Europe to India via Iran and Pakistan and eventually ended up in Thailand where I ran out of money. Managed to get a job selling vitamins to poor Thai people in the country but quickly came to question the ethics of what I was doing. Finally got a job teaching English and French in a high school and tutoring at Chulalongkorn university. I was trying to get a permanent visa to stay there when I must have payed off the wrong person and got deported to New Zealand.
Arrived in NZ in 1970, met my friend for her 21st birthday party but couldn't get any work so came to Australia where I have lived since. I did little travelling apart from a couple of trips back to the UK to see my family until I met Sylvia in 1994. She had never been out of Australia and wanted to see the world.
We took off in 1997 and have never looked back. We have travelled through SE Asia, Sri Lanka, the Middle East (we were in Aleppo on 9/11) and Egypt, Turkey, Europe, UK and Eire. We have travelled through China, Mongolia and Russia on the trans-mongolian express. We have taken slow boats around Scandinavia and trains all over the place - love trains!
Our next great trip will be around Australia. We already have a camper-trailer and have done a couple of short trips around Queensland (three months) and NSW (two months). I have just been made redundant so I guess I don't have any excuse now
[Edited: 2012 Feb 08 00:50 - John and Sylvia:18619 - Punctuation]