When the wanderer stays home, Part 2: planning, daydreaming, Life List
Working full time affords little opportunity for travel. Since I’m now 65 (65!), I’m hoping and planning to no longer work 50+ hours a week, which includes driving. Time - and some resources - open up for travel. One of the most delicious parts of travel for me is the planning. That said, it needs to be done carefully. Learning is the goal, really, but jam-packed itineraries are not pleasant. On a recent trip to Montreal, I “did” six museums in three days. It was overwhelming and exhausting. I learned that I won’t do that again. Wise travelers advise no more than a couple of bigger things each day - maybe one museum or event, a planned meal, an hour of shopping. This leaves time to really experience your destination. Have a meal each day at the same restaurant, walk the neighborhoods, write, paint, meet people, have conversations. It’s also so easy to overdo photos to the extent that you miss the experience. I’ve been traveling my whole life but I’m still learning this. I have learned, though, to not be easily disappointed. Plans change, weather and traffic are unpredictable, everything is not precisely how I imagined it would be. This is one of the great lessons of travel - to stop and let go, to go with the flow of the day. That’s how magic gets in.
I like travel books and websites to an extent. They are useful but even the best are very limited in scope. Reading books about the region and watching films made in and about it are more interesting to me. I want to know about the history, geography and culture in some detail before I go. I try to find out directly from people who have been there and, if possible, from those who live there - hotel, inn and rental hosts can be a good source of local information. I’m trying to get in the habit of asking ahead of my trip.
This brings me to the Life List, what some people call the “Bucket List.” I don’t plan to kick the bucket anytime soon, so I prefer to focus on living. My Life List ten years ago was really long. “Imagine everything you want to do in your life!!!” I did some of those things. Some were spectacular. Others were underwhelming. That was then. I’m older now, and a lot more focused. The old list had a lot of things in the “you’ve GOT to do this before you die!” category.. That no longer is of interest to me. The huge list, besides being not my idea, was too long for one lifetime. Now, i’m focused on what’s important to me. Those are specific experiences. I want to see icebergs in Newfoundland. I’d like to go to Paris, but if I have to choose, I’ll choose the icebergs.
It comes down to what I really yearn to do and what I’d regret not doing. Keep in mind that this is my list and that it may or may not resonate with you.
What I really want to do:
flyfishing US and Canada
train travel, especially the Canadian in the Rockies, especially across Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador
learning, specific classes: falconry, baking, language, cooking
Italy - I’ve been once for 10 days and it was wonderful, I want more!
US National Parks
US cities, especially Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Austin, Philadelphia, revisit Miami
see great art and architecture
learn about important local history
authentic experience of place
My list will continue to evolve as my interests and resources shift. I think it’s important to keep it flexible, to revisit it every now and again. I do think that keeping a list is important. You’ve made a list, haven’t you? You could start today. I’d love to hear what’s on your lists - please comment here or on the Facebook page.
What I might want to do:
Culinary Institute of America “boot camps”
Grand Prix Montreal
What I don’t want to do:
air travel if I can avoid it
big cruise ships
package tours, except Rick Steves
Las Vegas - went once overnight, hated it. The desert was beautiful, though
Disney World - went once with friends, hated it, won’t go back
things I “have” to see