Around the World in 40 Years

My friend H asked me some questions about travel on Twitter:
“How do you decide where you wanna go? Do you have a bucket list?”

hand of the buddha

I couldn’t respond in 140 characters, so I’m over here. Ruminating. I was first thinking I should make a list of all the places I’ve traveled. There are the places I’ve been that I didn’t choose and the places that I did choose. I’m going to go with the latter, since that list is smaller and I can remember all of them (I think).

  • 1987: Israel
  • 1999: Ireland
  • 2000: Italy (although it wasn’t my first trip, but first time on my own
  • 2003: Big Island, Hawai’i
  • 2005: Oaxaca, Mexico
  • 2006: Paris, France (not my first time to France, but first time on my own)
  • 2011: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia

Looking at this list amuses me, because it seems so random and full of holes. It doesn’t show all the traveling I’ve done with my parents, which in many ways prepared me for the trips above. But that doesn’t answer H’s question, either.

How do I decide where I want to go? It comes down to four things: do I have the time? Do I have the money? How willing am I to make the journey to get there? And does my sweetie want to go?

The trip to Israel is a little bit of a outlier, because I was in high school and went on a program. In many ways I was not on my own. BUT, it was the first place I heard about and I remember having long discussions with my parents, trying to convince them I was ready. There was a boy who was a couple years older than me, and he talked about the program. I remember he said something about how powerful it was to go visit a place where all this history he had learned in school happened. I was very drawn to that idea, that I could go visit a place with history. It would be many, many more years before I was to learn how much history about America had been elided and erased from my education.

Ireland because it was the only place my girlfriend said she wanted to go (outside the US). I could work with that. Italy because it was the second place my girlfriend said she wanted to go. I could work with that, too. Hawai’i because my parents had been there 20 years before. When I was a kid, I had a shiny, metallic hibiscus sticker that I had plastered on my dresser drawer that my mom brought back. Hawai’i sounded like the most exotic place in the world. And this is coming from someone who grew up in SW Florida! Oaxaca because we had friends living there for a year and the best places to visit are the places where you know someone. And we went for Dia de los Muertos, which was fantastic. Paris because pourquoi non? It was my birthday and I love France. It was everything I wanted it to be, except that dumb song, “Springtime in Paris” is dead wrong. It’s fucking cold. And then my epic trip to SE Asia, because I’d been wanting to go for years and no one else wanted to go. I was tired of waiting for them. I’d heard fantastic things, and I couldn’t spent another damned winter in Seattle without losing my everloving mind.

Do I have a bucket list? No. I have a rough list of places I want to go, and then there are the places that are possibilities, if conditions ever changed. I’m afraid of getting sick, so the entire continent of Africa is out (I realize this is ridiculous, but that’s fear for you). Except Morocco. I didn’t go to Burma when I was in SE Asia because of the political situation at the time, but I want to go back now that it’s changed. I realize I could just as easily get sick there. I still want to go back to France, to see the Black Madonna at Rocamadour (which I learned about in college) as well as the cathedral in Reims. Also want to go to northern Europe – Denmark, Holland and Scandinavia – at some point. I have friends there, who I met while traveling in SE Asia.

Next on my list is Belize. Why? It’s warm and sunny, it’s supposed to have fantastic birds/wildlife and snorkeling. When it’s up to me, I will always go where it’s warm and sunny. I guess that’s really the only requirement at this point in my life!

How do you decide where you want to go?

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  1. Pingback: Where I’ve Been | Slow Bloom Blog

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