An international trip is always an exciting adventure. The one drawback is the cost. With most trips costing thousands of dollars saving for the expedition can be quite the endeavor. As a freshman in high school, an amazing trip to Australia was laid at my feet, but it took creative saving and fundraising to get there.
In a world far away from my adult life as a Marine Corps officer, I was (believe it or not) a band nerd. Starting in the forth grade, I was a flutist. It is hard for even me to look back and believe the guy that would end up become a combat veteran used to spend his time playing classical music.
While a member of the Marching Matadors of Mount Miguel High School, my older brother and I had the opportunity to go to Australia. In the early ’90s I was a freshman. The band was invited to attend the Australian International Music Festival. The trip would cost $1,500 each. This was well beyond the means of my family.
If I had any shot at all of going on the trip, it would take creative fundraising and saving. My parents did what they could to put a little away each paycheck. I knew the strain the trip would put on them. Seeing them write each check toward the trip has always stayed with me as an enduring act of love.
We cut corners as a family everywhere we could. Eating out became a thing of the past. We bought generic brands of food. Living in Southern California we were accustomed to visiting the many zoos and amusement parks. These too were placed on hold. Mickey Mouse would need to miss the Daly family for a little while.
In addition to the cost cutting measures, my Mom started a letter writing campaign. She wrote to just about everyone. Little by little, we started to get money in and items that could be sold. Neighbors and co-workers donated $10 here $20 there. Our priest donated $100! I remember even Sea World donated a few tickets we could sell.
The cash donations by caring people and aid from businesses built the money my brother and I needed for the trip. We enjoyed two weeks in Sydney, Brisbane, and Surfer’s Paradise. It was a life-changing experience that I am eternally grateful for.