Thursday, February 9, 2012

Travel with purpose

I cannot believe that in less than four weeks I will be travelling to Paris and Morocco. But even more amazing for me is that I do not have a SINGLE trip planned after that. Not. A. Single. Trip. This is unreal for me. I don't even have a weekend trip to the coast planned.

It's made me really think about when and where I want to travel next. It seems like my level of enthusiasm for my next place is hesitant to make itself known. It's like walking into a really quiet room and automatically whispering. And as I sit and think about what I want to do and accomplish in the next year. Travel really isn't one of them.

Don't get me wrong. I still read travel blogs. I still have subscriptions to travel magazines. I still check Delta for flight costs. I went to tripadvisor and left all my reviews for the cruise trip. But then I hit a brick wall.

Years ago when I took a group of high school students to Paris and London, a co-worker joined me. She was in her 60s, fit and well-travelled. In her 50s, she had sailed from the South Pacific to California, hitting dozens of islands, filling a passport book (oh how wonderful that sounds!). After spending the time in London and Paris we were sitting at a cafe watching people stroll down the Parisian streets and she said something that sticks to me today.

"I can only take so much concrete and culture. I need my next trip to be green and nature."

I realized then that for the most part, for my travel it was always about concrete and culture. Since then I've gotten away from the madness on trips. I took a weekend to Big Bend and Terlingua with a friend and no cell phones. Not much green there but lots of nature! I've laid on beaches in the Caribbean drinking Corona Light; I've played golf at top courses in the world.

And I've enjoyed it all. I don't begrudge any of my past travels, but I have spent some navel-gazing thinking about my future travels and I realized I want to travel now with a purpose. Or rather I want to travel to for meaning. I don't just want to arrive and take in, as if my travels are this one way street where I arrive to be entertained. I want to arrive in a location knowing I will be adding something back. That the reason I am there is to make things better (or attempt to I don't have a god complex!), to learn something that I can teach to others, or achieve something that will let me know myself more.

It's for this reason that cruises don't totally appeal to me as a method of travel. Don't get me wrong. My mother and daughter both want to go on cruises in the future and I will suffer for both of them (DD wants to go to Curacao and my mother wants to go to Canada or the Eastern Mediterranean. I suffer so for them!) But for my personal travel and my goals in the next few years I want there to be a reason that I am travelling beyond just seeing stuff. And buying stuff. I want to know when I get back on the plane that I have grown somehow. And that I will be offering this growth to everyone else who meets me.

Our church has a variety of short-term missions in Burkina Faso, Guatemala and Brazil, and I've already told Craig that in 2013 I intend to join one. My friend Nancy has contacts all over the world willing and able to show us places we can help out and learn. Perhaps I will use my travel to acheive a Master's in Zoology so I can teach in colleges and universities.

The point is there are lots of opportunites out there to do more than visit a city to watch and observe. I can do that in a travel video on my couch. I have 10 months left in the year and I intend to complete several financial goals, and then I will give my travel plans some thought.

Of course with this said, when Craig comes home one day and tells me to book a trip to Vegas, I can't say no, can I????


  1. Most trips I go to I always make it a point to try to help local people or children. I love meeting locals, and actually when I go to China in 18 days (ahhh...I have not packed or researched much of anything), I hired a local guide in Beijing that will personally take me to a small town and meet with locals and eat lunch with them.

    For me it's the experience, granted I still love doing the site seeing (I don't really do any shopping anymore), but definitely meshing with the people has always been the most memorable thing about my trips. You will definitely be able to do that if you do a mission trip!

    Jealous that you are going to Morocco, I was supposed to go in October but a storm hit Southern Spain and we couldn't get on the ferry to Morocco. Next time!

  2. As I have already packed and labeled my blothes for the days I'm wearing them, your China trip is giving ME anxiety! ;) LOL I have compromised on the shopping as I now only buy gifts for other people and food. Lots and Lots of food. I want to help local economies but don't want to have a lot of stuff around later.

    Have a blast in China! Can't wait to get a chance to visit there!!


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