The prompt: Travel by Chris Guillebeau
I just read Chris’s “The Art of Non-Conformity” a couple of months ago. He wrote this provocative book about finding your own way, and illustrated a lot of it with examples from what he’s done. He has a goal of visiting every country in the world before he turns 35. With just a couple of years to go, and he’s got less than 50 countries left to visit. He writes a great blog, shares stories and tips on travel hacking, as well as other generally inspiring, butt-kicking advice.
I don’t feel driven to travel to every country on Earth. But I’m definitely a huge fan of Chris. His manifesto “A Brief Guide to World Domination” is a great place to start, if you’re interested.
Ok, there’s the backstory. After reading Chris’s book, I realized that, given my drive to create my own life path with a balance that is important to me, part of this life journey IS about travel. I sat down and took a 3×5 post it note, and drew a line down the middle. On the left is my “To Do” list. On the right is my “To Go” list. I am happy to report that, bucking my usual trend, the left side of the list is empty and the right side is taking over the page.
So picking the one place I really want to see before I die is a difficult task. I will pick one now, but after I go, there will definitely be a new one! So for now, until I get there, the one place is Paris (and the rest of France too).
I was a French major for one year in college. The reason why I dropped it was because my French department advisor – who didn’t know me very well, was just filling in for a semester while my advisor was on leave…and whose name I can’t remember for the life of me – was pressuring me to study abroad – right now. I wanted to go, but I wasn’t ready to quite yet. They told me I wouldn’t be good enough to represent the department if I didn’t. So I dropped the major and went into something else instead. This was a particularly rebellious, impulsive, and to be honest, completely lost and struggling time for me. (A story for another day.)
As the years have passed, I think back to that set of decisions I made years ago. I don’t regret them – I appreciate being who I am now and the wisdom that has come with some of the choices (and mistakes) I made. I’m blessed to have been able to travel to other places. Through singing in college, I’ve been to Sweden, Poland, Prague, and Vienna on one trip, and Toyko, Seoul, Singapore, and Hong Kong on another.
Maybe it’s a desire to set things right. Maybe it’s feeding the stubbornness in me, that I want to brush up on my French and see if I can survive there (even though one person, years ago, doubted that I could). Maybe it’s that I want to experience, with all my senses, all there is to see – hear – touch – smell – feel. I have questions I want to answer. What does it feel like to sit at a cafe? What does it sound like? What do the people look like as they walk by? What does it smell like in Paris right before it rains? Is the sense of romanticism palpable or just something of story and legend? Can I put into words how it feels the first time I see the Eiffel Tower, stand under the Arc de Triomphe, or walk through the doors of the Louvre in person? Is it awe-inspiring? Is it just another day in just another city?
Some questions to answer (with my husband) in order to get there –
- Does he want to go? If he doesn’t, should I go alone or with a friend who really wants to go?
- Should we take our son? This would change the trip from “it’s all about me” to “it’s all about him.” Would that work for me? He is only 6. There would be some things on my “to go” list while there, that I might not be able to do.
- Do we go soon (within a year or two) or wait until our son is old enough to understand/enjoy it more?
Some things we’d need to do (the plan!):
- Brush up on French. I can follow conversations but can’t come up with what to say.
- Figure out costs and allocate some savings towards the trip, set a timeline to save what we’d need.
- Make an itinerary: where would we want to go in France, where would we stay, how would we get there?
- How long would the trip be? Start stockpiling vacation time at work.
- Would I want to gig while there? How would I do that?