At the end of the year, many people reflect on what they have accomplished during the prior 12 months. They often speak about job advancement, what their kids have done, if they have survived the stress of moving, the pleasure of hobbies, successes at tennis or bridge or golf, home improvements, and overcoming illness.
Each of these is significant, of course, but there is another accomplishment that is rarely listed: travel.
“What?” you may be thinking. “How in the world is travel an accomplishment?”
In fact, it’s a major accomplishment. First, you have to organize your time so you can travel. You may have to deal with frowning or grousing family members who want you to visit them or want to visit you during the time you have chosen to leave. It requires patience, psychological savvy, and family political know-how to navigate your way through the situation. If your boss is reluctant to let you go, you have to become a negotiator and figure out how to placate him or her.
Next comes the need to have the money to travel. If you are well off, it’s not an issue. If you have ample savings, it’s not an issue. But if you are operating on a limited budget, you have to juggle your finances and expenses to have the money for travel—even if it’s a short trip to a nearby destination.
Once the organization and finances are in place, you have to choose a destination. All over the world, cities and resorts, countries and continents are trying to lure you as a visitor. You have to go inside yourself and figure out what you really want out of a trip. Stimulation? R and R? Learning? Volunteering? Exotic immersion? Seaside? Mountaintop? The list is endless. And the choice calls for inner clarity and defining realistic expectations.
Whew. Finally. It’s over, right? Well, actually, it’s just beginning. Now you have to get a flight, which may require research, bidding, comparing prices, figuring out if you have flexible dates. Next comes booking the actual trip. Hotel? Posh resort? All-inclusive? Motel? Family stay? Couch surfing? Do you want to be on your own, or do you want to join a tour? How about a cruise? Or a safari? You’ll be doing a lot of reading and researching, or you’ll find a tour operator or travel agent you trust and let her or him help you.
The planning is done and now it’s time for….packing. Which may require shopping. And there can be more than one climate you have to plan for. Where will you leave your winter coat when you fly to Curacao? Are you willing to pay the airline to ship luggage for you or are you going to limit yourself to carry-ons? Do you need new luggage? And don’t forget two luggage tags for each piece in case one gets torn off. Which will certainly remind you to look into trip insurance. Do you need it for your luggage? For possible trip cancellation?
Luckily, travel is one of the most pleasurable, exciting, memorable things you can do in your life. It is a rich, rewarding, expansive way to spend your time.
But if you don’t think it’s an accomplishment, think again. Look at what you went through to get there.
Congratulations and happy New Year!
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Photos by Paul Ross
Judith Fein is an award-winning international travel journalist and blogger who has contributed to more than 100 publications. Her new book, THE SPOON FROM MINKOWITZ: A Bittersweet Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands, will be available in January 2014. Her website is: http://www.GlobalAdventure.us