Hi I'm Deputy Mike Mason of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office in New York. After 24 years of serving my community, I have decided to start my second career. For the last 25 years, I have traveled the world. Mostly with kids in tow. I have three wonderful sons, ages 16 to 22. And I have now acquired Holliin's three daughters who range in age from 5 to 17. The travel bug is in my blood and I have found that new destinations are my happy place. I have used travel as my escape from everyday life. I have dedicated my trips around my youngest son, who is autistic, and through a lot of trial and error I have figured out the best ways to travel with a child that has a disability. The world is wide open and ready to explore for everyone.
Hello! My name is Hollin Galardo. I was born and raised in Dunkirk, NY right on the shores of Lake Erie. I’m a mother of three beautiful girls (ages 5 to 17) and a stepmother to three wonderful boys (ages 15 to 22) who all love to travel and explore with us. People call us the 21st-century Brady Bunch.
Just a few years ago my boyfriend introduced me to traveling. In 18 months’ time, we had traveled to Europe three times! Getting to see the northern lights in Iceland; the beautiful landscape, castles and history in Ireland; the Alps in Italy where we spent 12 days visiting family and seeing the northern part of Italy. We’ve also gone on several all-inclusive vacations, which I absolutely love! I can never get enough of the beach and the sun.
Best Travel Experience: I can’t say that I have a favorite vacation or travel experience. I loved every single one of them! They each had a different experience and some of the best memories. I’ve learned that even though you may have an itinerary or an idea of what you want to do, it doesn’t always work out according to plan and that’s ok. It’s all about the adventure.
For instance, a snowstorm in Ireland that shut down travel to and from town. Yup! That happened to us. All of our excursions were canceled and we could not get out of town, but we made the best of it. Instead, we bundled up and walked around town checking out the local stores, eateries, and bars. In the end, we were happy our excursions were canceled or we would never have had the chance to talk to the locals and hear some of their stories about living on the island.
In Ireland, it rained…A LOT! But we didn’t let that get in our way. It was all part of the experience. It was also great getting to watch our local football team, The Buffalo Bills, win a big game while we were there. We had the locals cheering them on and high-fiving them throughout the game.
Italy, we may have missed a train or two because we were new to taking trains in Europe (or all together in fact). But we found out very quickly that it happens all the time and we pretty much just jump on the next one. Spending time with family there and living like a local for almost two weeks was amazing. I may or may not have cried a little when we had to leave everyone.
Spending four days at Disney with all the kids was quite an adventure as well. But we hit just about every ride and every attraction possible. Seeing the magic in the kid’s eyes when they saw the fireworks show over Cinderella’s castle just melted my heart. They pushed through the heat and made the best out of those four days.
Most Recent Trip: North Myrtle Beach was our most recent trip. We planned a surprise 50th wedding anniversary for my boyfriend’s parents. We had 17 of us total that traveled in from Alaska, Kentucky and NY. It was such a great trip. We rented a condo right on the ocean and spent most of our time building sandcastles, surfing the waves, and playing games.
Where do you want to travel to next? I would love to go back to Italy and see the southern half and spend time around Naples where my great-grandfather was born.
Greece is also a big one on my list. I’m a huge fan of Mama Mia and ever since seeing that movie, I would like to see it firsthand.
What do you look for in traveling? I mainly look for adventure. I love to just go to other countries and see how they live. I like to talk to the locals and hear about the history of their town/country. The best is looking for that little bar or café down a hidden street and hanging out there for a little while. It’s amazing to put yourself in the shoes of a local.
Favorite place in the world? So far my favorite place has to be Venice, Italy. I just loved walking the streets and getting lost. There were so many alleys to explore and every corner held a new adventure. You never knew where it was going to lead you. The gondola ride was amazing and will be a memory that will last forever.
Favorite place to get food? One of my favorites has to be this great pizza restaurant in Italy. We went with the family on our first day. It had to be the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life and it was the first time eating a pizza with a fork and knife for me. I love trying new foods in every country and getting a taste of their culture. Ireland had some of the best comfort foods. And the best warm drinks for when you’re battling a cold.
Favorite souvenir from a trip? It seems a little weird, but every place we travel to I take a sandwich bag and take just a little of the sand. I have glass vials at home that are labeled with all the sand from all the different places we have traveled to. It’s amazing how different they all are. From the white sand in Siesta Key to the black sand in Iceland.
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