We have friends, (more like family, really) who are in their 70’s and continue to dream about and plan their next vacation. They love going to new places and experiencing the food and culture. They enjoy making new friends. I marvel at their zest for life, their willingness to shake out of their comfort zone and feel the excitement of the unknown.
When I was a struggling college student, I often dreamt of traveling. I wanted to go anywhere and everywhere. I’d spend hours in a bookstore looking at Let’s Go Europe and other travel books. I did not let my limited budget deter me from dreaming. Somehow, little by little, I made one destination after another happen despite the lean means of my young adult existence.
My first trip around the United States in 1979 was funded by various odd jobs. I cleaned houses, worked in a retail store and worked helping my dad as a roofer in a lumber mill. I saved enough money to make a trip around the United States after graduating from college. I wouldn’t categorize it as a “dream” vacation, but it certainly opened my eyes to the vastness of America, and initiated my thirst for more adventure.
Next came a trip to Europe with a friend. I was into my second year of teaching and saved $600 to spend 6 weeks abroad. I opened up a Franklin Investment Account (remember those?) in hopes that the interest would pay for a couple of extra meals. In 1982 $600 could stretch pretty far. We did not stay in five star hotels, eat in fancy restaurants or spend money on pretty European souvenirs. I came home, exhilarated but broke with less than a dollar in loose change in my ragged backpack. My meal plan until my end-of-September paycheck was limited to frequent visits to my grandmothers to eat.
There have been many more places I’ve traveled in the 30+ years since 1979. I am grateful for every experience each adventure provided.
I fell out of love at a Rest Stop in New Mexico.
I fell in love on the snow-white beaches of Santorini.
I watched my children play with non-English speaking children at a restaurant below the ancient hill town of Sermoneta, Italy.
I cried with a friend after she lost her Italian husband at age 53.
I made new friends under an enormous full moon on the Island of Sardegna.
Each trip was not without adventure. Was not without hassles. Each vacation required saving, budgeting and planning. But, each experience made me feel alive, exhilarated and always happy to return home.
Where do you dream of going? What adventures await you there?