The spirit of adventure carries her far
Londa Scarborough can’t explain her love of travel, but she remembers vividly the moment she recognized the desire.
“We were all outside and I looked up and saw a jet fly over and I said, ‘One of these days, I’m going to fly in one of those!’ And I haven’t stopped traveling since,” she says. Londa and Earl Scarborough traveled frequently when their sons were young, but it was different back then.
“Earl and I traveled with the boys all over the place. We had a camper and a little dune buggy that we pulled behind it, and we traveled all over the south. We camped and rode that dune buggy everywhere,” she recalls. “I used to ride on the back of Earl’s motorcycle all over the southern United States. I’ve had my own scooters and mopeds before, but I don’t do that anymore. I quit riding after I turned the scooter over on my foot.”
Londa was born in Jefferson. When she was just two years old her father died, leaving her mother a widow with three daughters. The family stayed in East Texas, living in Longview and Carthage. Londa and Earl were high school sweethearts and married in 1963. Londa graduated from high school and took classes at Panola College. After Earl’s two-year tour of duty in the Army, the Scarboroughs settled in Carthage and opened ABC Wreckers. Son Alan was born in 1965, and Jeff in 1971. Londa’s nephew Eric joined the family in 1993.
“We never traveled when I was a child. We couldn’t afford to. My first international trip was with the Spanish class when I was in high school. Mr. Wooley took a group to Mexico and I think we stayed about two weeks,” she says.
Londa’s travel adventures really began when son Alan was a high school senior. “I took Alan on a short trip to Acapulco over the Thanksgiving break. We loved it and we would have stayed longer except that I had this thing about my boys having perfect attendance in school. The flight home was overbooked and the airline offered a lot of money to people willing to give up their seats. Alan tried to get me to take the deal, but I wanted him to get that perfect attendance certificate,” she says.
Earl’s love of travel involves motorcycles, so he stayed home running the wrecker business while Londa traveled with her sisters, Elaine and Pam.
“Back then, we had a travel agent who found us great deals. We started going to Hawaii in 1980, and I can’t count how many times I’ve been back since,” she says. Other memorable trips with her sisters included fall foliage tours through New England and the Amish Country of Pennsylvania.
Frequent flyer miles via credit cards and airlines add up, and Londa constantly shops for travel bargains online. She schedules at least four trips a year, and, with her flexible schedule, she may take an impromptu trip if she finds a good deal.
“I’m on the computer constantly. I use Cheap Tickets and Kayak to find the best deals. Delta is my favorite airline, although I found a $533 round trip ticket to Hawaii on United – that’s unheard of!” she says.
Londa books her hotel rooms online. “I have favorite places I stay in the cities I go back to all the time. The people know me and I’ve never been afraid. Everyone speaks English so I have had no problems with language barriers. The bad thing about doing your little ‘hellos’ in French or whatever is that they automatically assume that you are fluent. It’s a courtesy to say something simple, but I can’t hold a conversation in another language.”
Londa is not interested in group tours. She has traveled with her sisters and her sons, especially Alan, who makes at least one trip each year to Europe with her.
“No groups! I’ve never been afraid. People say, ‘Oh, you can’t go to Europe now,’ but I’ve already booked my June trip. I did it with my Delta Airlines miles. I wish someone in my family had gone to work for the airlines so I could get the free travel! I like traveling alone. I can shop all day if I want to, and if I want to eat ice cream for dinner, that’s what I do.”
Londa travels in the summer high season because the weather is perfect. “I will go to Switzerland on June 22. We first started going to Zurich and Lucerne, but now I go straight to Jungfrau to a village in the mountains accessible only by cog-wheeled train. I will buy a region train pass that I can use on any form of transportation available. The first day of my first trip there I called home and said, ‘Earl, you’re not going to believe this but there’s an airplane flying below me right now.’ It was the most amazing thing. I love Switzerland.”
Lake Como in Italy is another of her favorite travel destinations. “I go to Lake Como at least twice a year. I stay in the village of Bellagio, and I keep looking for George Clooney, but he’s never there. The Metropole Hotel is right on the water, and it’s just beautiful.”
Londa is a fearless traveler except when it comes to food. “I’m not a foodie whatsoever! If the hotel has a breakfast, I’ll eat that, but I’m allergic to so many things, and I just don’t eat meat in Europe. I’ll eat crepes in France and pasta in Italy, but no meat. I’m a picky eater in the U.S. but I’m worse in Europe. I drink only bottled water, and my favorite is Evian. Basically, I’m a junk food addict. I do enjoy the exotic sweets and pastries. I wonder how I don’t go into sugar shock,” she admits.
With her extensive travel experience, Londa has learned some important lessons. “Use an ATM for money and always have two ATMs from two different banks,” she advises. Her bank keyed in the wrong country code on one of her first trips with her sister, and the ATM froze the card. Luckily, her sister had enough cash to get them through the trip, but after that, Londa made sure to always carry two separate bank cards along with her credit cards.
Her international travels have taken her to France, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Bosnia, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia, England, Hungary, Spain, Nova Scotia, Greece, Mexico, The Bahamas, The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Montenegro, and Canada. She enjoys the architecture and landscapes of Europe, but she also travels to U.S. destinations as well. In 2014 she and Alan visited Denali National Park and took a train trip across Alaska to Anchorage.
Her 2016 itinerary, so far, includes a return trip to Italy and France in April, Switzerland, and Germany in June, and an October trip to Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. Still on her list is a trip to the French wine country where she plans to ride in a hot air balloon. “I’m putting this trip off – it’s on my bucket list and I’m saving it for last!”