By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 07, 2008 at 5:40 AM

All aboard! It's Travel Week at as we bring you stories big and small from destinations near and far. When you post travel-related reader blogs -- from Monday, May 5 through Sunday, May 11 -- you're automatically in the running to win an all-inclusive trip to a Mexican resort courtesy of Apple Vacations. The editorial staff will pick the best travel blog of the week and the winner will jet off to sunny Mexico! Get writing! is staffed with people who love Milwaukee, but who are equally as passionate about occasionally going beyond Brew City's borders to check out the rest of our world.

Since it's Travel Week on, the editorial staff shares its stories from its favorite vacations. Tell us about yours, using the Talkback feature.

Molly Snyder Edler
Staff Writer

In 1993, my then-boyfriend (who is now my husband) moved to England for six months to study at the University of Nottingham and spend time with his parents who lived in the U.K. for five years.

After his semester finished, I flew to England with my life savings of several hundred dollars, and we spent the next three months traveling in Europe. His parents loaned us a car, a 1979 Volvo station wagon, which we took on the ferry and drove around Europe. I remember being absolutely, positively floored that gas cost $3 a gallon. Hence, we had very little money for anything except fuel, bread and alcohol. He played guitar (busked) for extra money, but most nights, we slept in the back of the car unless a new-found friend offered us couch or floor space.

We drove from Denmark to Amsterdam to Germany to Prague to Budapest to Slovenia to Italy to France. Unfortunately, in France I got horribly ill with a kidney infection and had to return to England for medical help. However, even this was a good experience. At the time, I didn’t have health insurance, so if I had gotten sick in the United States, I would have faced exorbitant medical bills. Thanks to England’s socialized medicine system, I didn’t pay a dime.

I’m not sure I will ever be fortunate enough to return to Europe, and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t experience it in the same seat-of-my-pants fashion that I did as a college sophomore. That said, everything about this trip is extremely special to me, including the early recognition that my husband was "the one," and the chance to experience Europe’s underground in a way only the young, broke and fearless are able.

Julie Lawrence
Staff Writer
St. Lucia, West Indies

The first time I ever left the country I was 9 years old and we stayed away for six weeks. My mom accepted a volunteer position as a physical therapist on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia and, it being summer, decided to take me with her.

Although northern quarters of the island like Castries are popular tropical tourist destinations, we, of course, were on the other side where people were very poor and lived in scrap metal shacks. Because my mom was a volunteer, we stayed for free in a small dorm at the hospital and ate our meals in its cafeteria or at a shack down the road called the "Stop ‘n Snack." This was my first introduction to plantains (which I mistook for bananas and hated) and to traditional dahl dishes, the quality of which I have yet to taste anywhere else in the world.

I made friends with the five children of the "Stock ‘n Snack" owner, and was fascinated by their outdoor shower, which was really just a hose on a slab of crooked concrete. Some days I spent time helping out in small ways at the hospital (I distinctly remember hand-rolling cotton balls for hours on end) and other days I’d hang out with the children of the other volunteers trying to learn the native French patois language. On my mom’s days off, we’d climb volcanoes, swim in the warm Caribbean sea, and hike in the rain forest.

Since I was so young, I’m not sure I got as much out of this experience as I could have as an adult, but as I reflect, there is something about my youthful naiveté at the time that allowed be to just be a part of the culture, rather than spend my time analyzing it or comparing it as I tend to do now on international vacations.

Drew Olson
Senior Editor

Grand Cayman Island
After traveling the US for the better part of 12 years on the baseball beat, my ideal vacation involves tropical breezes, white sand beaches and potent drinks with umbrellas.

My favorite spot is Grand Cayman Island.

I've been there a few times, but my favorite trip was the winter of '98. The better half and I would go for long walks on the beach, eat breakfast, lounge by the pool, eat lunch, head back to the beach, eat dinner and retire to the room to watch the Clinton-Lewinsky nonsense breaking on CNN. Midway through the trip, we got married on a private beach and strolled back to the hotel at sunset.

The sunsets on Grand Cayman are incredible. The island is very low-key, which I like, and expensive, which I don't like. The snorkeling is incredible and there is no better place to lounge in the sun and read.We went back in January for our 10th anniversary and the island, though ravaged by tropical storms since our last visit, was as beautiful as ever (just like my wife).

Maureen Post
Central America

Last year, I spent three months traveling in Central America.  It is unbelievable and almost impossible to describe.  I wandered through Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama; living in small villages in the cloud forest or in beach towns along the coast. 

Every single day was absolute adventure as I would meet new travelers and decide to catch a bus with them to the next town or run into locals that would take me to hidden waterfalls to swim.  I went surfing, hiking, volcano boarding, kayaking and swimming all the time. And of course there were Salsa dance parties every night.

I think my favorite though was Dominical: a small Costa Rican beach town on the Pacific Coast where we had bonfires on the beach and went surfing every day.  I picture the town, the people and the sunset all the time. This was easily the best trip I have ever taken.

Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor
Italy, etc.

I'm fortunate enough to have been able to travel a fair amount -- almost always for pleasure, too! -- and while I'm hardly the most traveled person you'll meet, I've been here and there. We've had lots of trips that were memorable for various reasons (nice sights, great food, fun adventure, etc.), but my first trip to Italy in 1997 changed my life in a profound and enduring way.

Eleven years later, Italian history and culture and my Italian family have become major facets of my life. That three-week trip was also an education in travel, geography and modern Italy. We traveled with one backpack each and spent many days on the move during our planes, trains and automobiles trip that led us everywhere from Florence, Venice, Siena, Torino and Milan to Modena, Udine, the Cinque Terre as well as small towns in Liguria and Piemonte.

It was also late autumn, so we had every variation on weather you might expect. We navigated not only torrential rain but train strikes and the at times heart-stopping footpaths connecting Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. But best of all, we were re-welcomed into a geographically distant part of my family that, despite the miles separating us, feels as close as any I've known in my life.

Second on my list, if there's room for a second, would probably be my first trip abroad, to England and Scotland, when I was 20. We played three gigs in London, did side trips to Brighton and went up to Glasgow for a few days, too. I met my then-guitar hero Kenny Burrell, went to Gaz's Rocking Blues (then in Dean Street), saw Misty in Roots and generally immersed myself in everything I loved about music -- and the U.K. -- up until that time.

Andy Tarnoff
Isla Mujeres, Mexico 

I've taken so many memorable vacations over the years, from dude-trips in Door County, San Fran, Arizona and the Dominican Republic to my honeymoon in St. Martin and Anguilla.  I've loved almost all of them (except for the Bahamas).  But to pick just one, I'll say it was my trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico with my then fiancé, Velia.  The trip was part of the whole proposal plan: I whisked her away to this tiny island off the coast of Cancun the day after I popped the question. I had been to the island a year before, so I knew what to expect: Isla is like the Key West of Mexico; quiet and beautiful without all the Cancun tourists. We spent five romantic days on the beach, including a day trip at the ruins of Tulum.  Inspired, we even brought back our puppy.  Playa, now almost five, is the best souvenir of my favorite vacation.