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????