I thought I had been to a lot of places. That was before I started planning this trip.
Sure, I’ve done some of the biggies: London, Los Angeles, San Francisco. I’ve been to attractions like Disney World and Broadway. I’ve sipped wine in Napa and eaten hot dogs in Chicago. I’ve gambled in Vegas, hiked in Boulder and thrown beads in New Orleans.
When I started my list of the 50 places I want to visit the year I turn 50 I thought it would be a mostly one-time exercise. Sit down. Write a list. Spend the next two years planning to go there.
As it turns out, just coming up with the list has been more of a process than I expected. There were a few places that came to me right away. For instance, I knew I wanted to visit Italy and Barcelona. I also knew of a few places I didn’t want to go.
As I started telling people about my plan and asking for recommendations I was a little surprised at how many places I haven’t been. Even more surprised at the places other people have been.
I’d talk to people at parties and take a few notes on my phone. I joined travel related Facebook pages which only made my head spin more with all the ideas. I asked people I worked with for advice.
My first pass at a list was way too long. Suddenly, 50 places didn’t sound like a lot. It was going to take a little more thought and investigation before I could completely answer the question, “Where are you going?”
This was not a list to be rushed. I wanted to think through each place before giving it final approval. After all, chances are I will never take a trip like this again.
A friend of mine suggested keeping notes on my laptop. I started coping links of articles I wanted to review. I got a calendar. I searched best time to go to (fill in the blank). I put things on the list —then took them off.
Oh the places I wanted to go!
The practical side of me, the one that comes from growing up the oldest of 6 kids, knows I can’t just quit my job and leave my daughter. I’ll need to find some locations that will allow me to visit multiple places in one trip. But I can’t just drive through a neighboring city and count that as a place I went. That would be lame. So, to be considered one of my “place”s I have to spend at least 4 hours there… otherwise its just a stop or a layover.
I have decided the type of trip is as important as the location.
- I want a hiking trip, an exotic beach trip, and a train trip.
- I want trips oversees and domestic trips.
- I also want a few close trips (That’s my practical side coming out again. Mixing in a few close trips help make the schedule and budget more manageable.) I’ve lived in North Carolina for 17 years and while I’ve made lots of day trips and trips to the beach with visitors, there are a lot places worth visiting that I haven’t been.
- I want to visit cities where I know no one and cities where I have old friends. You know, the old friends you always say you will go see but then you get busy with life and responsibilities and suddenly you have 15 excuses why you can’t ever get there. Well, no more!
So the bottom line is I still don’t know exactly every place I am going. The good news is that little by little my list is taking shape. With each option I consider cost and location and things to do.
And I get to decide if that’s what I want. What I want. Just me. Wow, that’s a change from the last two decades of my life.
I’m getting used to it though and I’m getting excited about the possibilities.