In the grand scheme of travel writers and bloggers I haven’t really been any place extraordinary. When I read blog posts devoted to traveling Antarctica, Thailand, Peru, and Italy – all places I’ve never been – it would seem I have little to offer my fellow travelers in the way of adventure. Some days, it seems that’s reinforced by the superior attitudes that can be found in the travel blogging community. There’s an expectation for great stories when there is a photograph from Kho Phi Phi, or someone talks about living in Egypt and we laugh when a post on cannabis in Amsterdam is passed around! Those with the greatest list of countries visited, get greater notoriety.
If this is the currency … my time is finally coming. My plane ticket to Paris is on the pinboard above my computer and a countdown clock is on my iPhone. True world travel begins in earnest for me in 2011 with additional plans in the works to visit Spain, Argentina, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and Vancouver – to start!
While all those plans are grand and I’m sure may help me “catch up” to my other world traveling adventurists, when it comes down to it for me … the places are not the point. A check list of countries visited isn’t what fuels my love of travel. I’m going to be bold and say: it never will be.
PEOPLE … fuel my love of travel. They always have and they always will play a big part in my motivation to continue traveling.
For instance, I’m going to Paris because my mother and godmother instilled in me a love of France from my earliest memory. I want to go to Australia to meet amazing photographers: Steve Elmer and Julian Beattie and, if I am lucky – work with them. I want to visit Argentina, so I can celebrate the amazing love story & wedding of my dear friend Andi Perullo. I want to visit Spain because it is a part of my heritage. I want to visit Scotland and Ireland, because Jonathan Epstein has caused me to reexamine an area of the globe I’d thought I was no longer interested in. I want to visit Vancouver because it’s where my fellow travelers are gathering for Tbex11 and there are so many of them I just cannot wait to meet in person!! Of course, while I’m in these places I do plan to dive in and get to know their wonders – you can bet I want to tango when I’m in Argentina! Any world traveling men want to be my date?
People bring significance to the travel experiences I’ve already had in my life. I wrote a post addressing this on Monica Wong’s site earlier this year, albeit with a slightly different angle on how people have shaped how and where I’ve traveled. As 2011 kicks off, I’m remembering even more of the trips I’ve made and the people I was with when some of the best moments of my life were unfolding. Now, I look back on the unexpected memories – as some of my best ever.
When I traveled last summer to Arkansas and Tennessee, a portion of my trip was devoted to a visit with my old friends from college. Liz is an author with a book deal and a firstborn on the way. Matt is a man on the brink of having to give up his man-cave for his baby daughter’s inevitable takeover of the house. A visit was overdue! (Thanks Matt for taking the above photograph!)
So I drove my rental car through the plains of East Arkansas from Graceland, along the way thinking back to my college era in Little Rock. I thought of Matt proposing to Liz while we were still students, on top of The Peabody back in Memphis where I had just stayed overnight. We had gone as a group to Beale Street and joined them for dinner after Liz said yes! Every mile I gained brought me closer to my friends, and lifted my post-divorce downtrodden spirits. I didn’t have a checklist of things I wanted to do in Arkansas. However, we did end up going to some fabulous places. Little Rock has exciting culinary offerings I was completely unaware of and is definitely a danger when it comes to flea markets to-die-for. Yet it was a night staying in, that really caught me off guard. Matt cooked dinner and once we had licked our plates clean, we each enjoyed our own personal pints of ice cream while curled up on the man-cave couch watching a movie. For so many reasons, it is an evening that will go down in history as one of my favorite nights in ever. It wasn’t a boat ride on the canals in Venice or a hike to Machu Picchu. Yet that night ranks higher for me than the moment I first walked the Brooklyn Bridge because I shared it with two of my favorite people in the world. In Little Rock, Arkansas. Go figure!
I could tell you a dozen more stories like that. Some have more exotic locations to boast than others. Indeed, my unexpected love affair with Mexico was ignited only because of a person I wanted to travel with – no matter the destination! Certainly, Mexico can be (and was) a romantic place. I expected that I would just like Mexico and enjoy my time with my travel companion. Well, I fell in love with Mexico and made some memories I’ll cherish forever because of the person I traveled with. My expectations were met, but also exceeded, and I never saw it coming!
I never plan on hating any part of traveling, I’m too addicted to every part of being a traveler for that to be possible! But sometimes, the most expected joy…comes in the most unexpected ways!