(In December, we spent five days in Panama with our son Seth, then wrapping up nearly six years as The New York Times Frugal Traveler. He asked me to delay writing about our trip until Parents in Tow, Finding a Charming and Cheap Corner of Panama was published.)
It isn’t every morning that you get up at 5:15 a.m. to milk cows on a farm that’s a four-hour drive from Panama City, Panama. But nothing was off the table during our three days with the Frugal Traveler in the tiny town of Santo Domingo, where, unlike most visitors to Panama, we never saw another American.
On a 100-degree day we visited the Belisario Porras Museum in Los Todas (50 cents entrance fee). In that oven-hot museum, Seth managed (as always) to make the guide love us, her first American visitors in a month. We visited Isla Iguana and other attractions on the Azuero Peninsula before heading to Panama City where we did normal stuff like visiting the Panama Canal and the new Frank Gehry Museum of Biodiversity.
This was the fifth time we joined Seth on his frugal travels. It was especially poignant because he was turning in his Frugal Traveler badge and someone else would begin telling readers how to travel less expensively and more authentically. In his article about our trip, Seth wrote “My parents essentially taught me to travel, and we believe that being handed a baby (in Panama), getting a rental car stuck in the mud (Nicaragua), swimming with a local family (Croatia), happening upon a midsummer feast (Norway) or dining out in the immigrant-filled suburbs (Vancouver) are the kind of experiences that matter more than museums and sightseeing cruises.”
Our adventures with him will live on in the digital archives of The New York Times. And, more important, in our hearts.