Member Spotlight: Samanthi Martinez

Member Spotlight: Samanthi Martinez

Epic roadtrip from UK to Sri Lanka
Kip Doyle
Family road trip from UK to Sri Lanka

When is a map more than just a map? When it’s guiding a young family across Europe and the Middle East for an epic 6,500-mile journey involving several ferry rides, hundreds of miles off road, mechanical failures, and one 6-month-old passenger.

That child was Samanthi Martinez, a AAA Member from Hamilton, NY. Travel has always been a big part of Martinez’s life. Her parents, Rex and Rani Arseculeratne, were natives of Ceylon, the South Asian island country now known as Sri Lanka. They were hoping to start a family but chose to relocate after a fortune teller advised that the couple would never have a child while their “feet touched this island.”

The couple moved to Great Britain, and the Arseculeratnes finally had their baby, Samanthi, in 1964. Six months after her birth, the young family – along with Rex Arseculeratne’s brother Festus and a family friend – set course for an epic road trip to visit their homeland of Ceylon.

“Sometimes when you learn about your parents, it can be eye opening or cause disbelief,” Martinez said. “If I didn’t have the documentation to prove it, I would think that this journey was preposterous.”

Martinez’s father planned the trip on road maps from the Automobile Association, AAA’s partnering auto club serving Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“In some of those areas like Iraq and Iran, there were no roads per se going across the country. So, they were advised at one point to travel along the oil pipeline,” Martinez said.

Martinez said her father was a big believer in strong institutions, like the Automobile Association, giving him confidence that he was taking his family on the correct course.

“If not for those maps and that guidance they received, they would have been really frightened, taking a trip like that with a young baby,” Martinez said.

Martinez and her parents would complete the trip successfully, eventually moving to the United States and becoming AAA Members. Martinez, who is the director of a housing complex for seniors in Hamilton, is still a AAA Member today, as are her adult children living in other parts of the country.

“It’s invaluable for our family mainly because we drive a lot, and there’s a lot of traveling involved because we live so far away,” she said.


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