Category Archives: wanderlust

Be Inspired

Check out Matador’s 50 most inspiring travel quotes of all time. My personal favorites include:

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

I love this next quote and I hope my writing gets this across. The unknown allows us all to experience things outside of our comfort zones. When taken out of that familiar setting, something as simple as buying a knee brace will require effort and patience to get it done. It’s the lack of familiarity, and assumed ease, that makes the experience – behind door number one, two or three that much more exciting. 

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson (who is one of my favorite travel writers)

I have mentioned this quote in a previous post

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

And this quote applies to life in general, it is not exclusive to travel.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

The Ultimate Train Challenge

Check this out! The Ultimate Train Challenge.

This link to the challenge perfectly culminates a week of my posts about trains and train travel.

Very cool site, challenge and adventure.

This surely won’t be like traveling on New Jersey Transit.

You say it’s a split-flap

I thought more and more about yesterday’s blog post. I do have the same awe about trains as that little boy I saw yesterday.

Setting: Venice, Italy train station, January 2008

Had convinced the boyfriend that we could ‘wing it’ for two nights, while the rest of our accommodation and destinations had been planned in advance, and there were many. We had been in Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti and Greve in Tuscany, Florence and Fiesole, a small town on the top of a hill outside Florence.

We had added one day/night to Venice, so we had one freebie day/night towards the end of our trip, with no plans. We had to ultimately get back to Milan the day after the day it was for our return trip so anywhere between Venice and Milan was fair game.

I was in my glory watching the train boards flip and change the destinations with that deliberate noise to make sure travelers are paying attention.

The sound that those boards make just get me excited over the opportunity of where you can go next, what’s near the destination and how easily you can get there.

Thank you Wikipedia for telling me that it is called a split-flap display. And this video showcases the noise I am talking about. Thank you random YouTube user.

I was looking at the destinations on the board and looking down in the guide book to decide which line we should take, and which stop we should buy tickets to.

Since the boyfriend was totally, utterly and completely breaking a sweat not knowing where we were headed next I had to work quickly. I had to figure out a destination while ensuring it would get us headed in the general direction of Milan.

Isn’t this compromise? We planned most of our accommodations in advance…are two nights, with no planned destination or accommodation, that much to ask? If you ask most of my friends, and my boyfriend, the answer is yes. Unfortunately, for any of my travel companions who do think that way, I don’t.

And yes, if I could install a mini split-flap display of some sort in my home, I think I would seriously consider it. I just love that noise and the day dreaming it promotes.

“Go. And go somewhere interesting.”

Nomadic Matt recently posted a terrific interview with Lonely Planet’s founder, Tony Wheeler.

My favorite part, Wheeler says “Go. And go somewhere interesting.”

What’s your guidebook of choice these days?

Personally, I love my dog-eared travel guides (and I do have my fair share of Lonely Planets!). They may be brand new when I set out but they are well-worn in when I return. They are bent and folded and maybe sometimes they got wet. They are worn in and have been written in with notes I took along the way.  There are notes, doodles and random lists of things to do and see. There are maps that locals draw in and recommendations from waiters. There are a few key local words and phrases scribbled down.

These guides serve as a reminder of where I’ve been and places where I’d like to return. They take up a good chunk of my bookcase. As weird as it may sound, I love them, like stamps in my passport, but instead of tucked away in a drawer, they’re on display in my living room.

What gets you excited about travel?

I’m not offering $50 like Wandering Earl…but I am curious.

Wandering Earl had asked his readers (I’m one of many!) last week what gets you excited about travel?

Here was my answer. Tell me yours! Or tell Earl (his contest is over, but there are some great answers out there)!

My ‘moment’ is as soon as I press purchase for airline tickets. Since I’m always researching and planning and dreaming, the ‘purchase’ button seals the deal. When I booked the flights for my recent trip to Argentina, it was nearly midnight, I had work the next day and all I could do was jump up and down on the bed in excitement. And I should add, I’m in my thirties.

Restless Legs

Last week I went to a reading series, appropriately titled, Restless Legs. Not only is it a great name for the group, it’s a perfect nickname for me.

The reading I went to had the theme of women’s focused writing. Each woman read an excerpt from their book (the dream!). There were four readers – each had her own story.

We heard from four different women about…

  • The differences and stereotypes facing a single woman in her 30s while visiting her family in India from NYC.
  • The challenges that arise when souvenir shopping for a young neighbor after discovering that the best gift for a 12 year old boy is a soccer jersey.
  • A love/hate affair with, and affairs in, Paris.
  • Moving a young family to Spain while the mom learns how to flamenco dance. Twice.

In the same order, each of the writers…

  • Reminded me that every country has different views of young, single women.
  • Made me laugh as I remembered some of my more tedious quests for the perfect gifts to bring home.
  • Made me want to return to Paris and do it right.
  • Made me long for the smells, the sights and the sounds of Spain.

Wanderlust much?

Vacation All I Ever Wanted, Vacation Had to Get Away

Tomorrow is the first official day of summer, and with it comes a few months of peak traveling season.

I’m still sorting out my summer. Some long weekends in my near future include a trip to Florida, Cape May, New Jersey and Washington DC.

For August, Iceland is still a front-runner. 20 hours of sunlight sounds pretty cool to me.

Where are you headed?

Leave to enter until 19 April 2001

While most of my friends concentrated on getting jobs right after school, somehow I convinced my parents, and got them to agree, that moving to London, sight unseen, was the best route for me. Turns out, six months and a work visa WAS the best route for me. I should point out, short of family vacations to Toronto and Niagara Falls, spring break in Cancun and a couple of trips to the Caribbean, I never even had a passport. Back then, a birth certificate was good enough.

As it turned out, my first passport stamp EVER was permission to enter AND work in a country I had never been to, and aside from Mary Poppins, funny accents and a famous bridge, it was a place I knew little about. But I knew I’d love it. Eleven years later I have never been more right about anything in my life.

While living abroad, I learned that what I did is what most of the world calls a gap year.  I can’t really call the time I spent abroad, a ‘career break’ since I hadn’t even started my career yet. To most, it looked like career postponement!

As I found out earlier this week at the NYC Meet Plan Go event, extended travel, however you do it, is in the back, and front, of a lot of travelers minds! Check out this article from the New York Times.

Wild with Wanderlust

Earlier this week I attended an informal gathering of Meet Plan Go, which is a resource for those taking a career break — get it…meet (other like-minded people), plan (lots of things to think about like storage and shots…) and GO! (duh!)

A friend of mine hosted the NYC chapter’s meet and he suggested I attend even if I wasn’t actively contemplating a career break, which I’m not. It’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind, but there’s no active planning right now. My friend told me it also serves as a support group for those of us plagued with wanderlust and that I’d fit in just fine.

Boy was he right! I met a few people whose friends and families think they are the crazy one with all sorts of wanderlust. Ah, I finally found my people! They knew, and even worked for, travel sites I read regularly!

When I told some friends that I was going to this ‘meeting’ I was met with some hesitation and raised eyebrows. I wasn’t the only one who got those reactions. One girl I met told me her mom thought she was joining a cult! Even my parents, who have a sense of adventure, are sometimes taken aback at places on my travel wish list. And they have traveled to – and would go back – to Cartagena, Colombia!

Out of the people I had met, some had already taken a career break, some were in the midst of planning their second and others, like me, were seeking like-minded people. I fit right in! Some career breaks lasted a few weeks, most were between five and nine months, others even longer. One of the founders of MPG wasn’t able to attend because she is still traveling!

You must see where I am going with this.

My loosely thought out career break, come on, you didn’t think I had a wish list (!)  would take me to southeast Asia, where I’ve wanted to go for some time, and it’s helpful that the USD goes far there. Apparently these routes are popular with ‘my people.’ Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos topped many people’s lists…and mine!

And then, in my imaginary plan, I’d head south to Australia and New Zealand in order to chase summer. I should note that while the plan is in only in my head, it’s ideally planned around avoiding winter in the US…always thinking 😉

If I’m up for more, I’d get myself over to South America and work my way back to the States through Central America. I’d get to further experience the Latin culture I’ve fallen in love with. I would also continue to enjoy summer, and probably the start of the rainy season if I remember correctly, and bonus (!) get good value for my USD.

I am willing to bet that if you made it this far, you are crafting your own itinerary, if only imaginary, like me.

So here’s the big question…if you are daydreaming, even if you just started, what does your itinerary look like? I’d love to know! Feel free to share in the comments below.

Travel Regrets

Great post about travel regrets from Nomadic Matt.

Yes, I hyperlinked to Matt’s site for a reason! Click it to read on Matt’s post. Below is my comment on his post, and some more thoughts.

First, my comment (in case you don’t want to search for it):

I wanted to study abroad but my major was set up in such a way, had I left for a semester, I guaranteed myself an extra year of school. Because of the financial impact a fifth year of school would mean, I didn’t get to study abroad.

But I also didn’t lose the bug. During my senior year I learned about a program called BUNAC that enables recent college grads to work and live abroad. Five months after graduation I packed up and went to London for six fantastic months. And you know what, when I came back, everyone was still doing the same thing – looking for jobs, starting jobs and there I had been galavanting around Europe for a few short months.

Great post. So true.


Now, more commentary:

I don’t like having regrets but if I have to have another it’s not getting the bug sooner and not going where I would have had a local contact with more insight on a place.

As a kid I had friends travel to visit family in Alaska and Israel. My parents would have been financing those trips since I don’t think my minimum wage jobs would have paid for those trips.

While living in London I traveled a lot, but never to somewhere I, or my travel partner, would have known someone. If I went to Wales and Norway, I would have been with friends’ families. A few years ago I had friends living in Japan and I didn’t make it out there either.

A trip to Prague with a friend was swapped for a trip to the Isle of Wight…an English summer resort, which a friend and I visited in December! So while it wasn’t the original plan, it was still a great trip.

I currently have friends in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and I’ll be damned if I don’t get to those places while they are there!

These are a few regrets but I can’t focus on them. I am very fortunate to have gone where I have gone. Even without these particular places under my belt, I’ve seen and experienced a lot and met incredible people. There’s a lot more to see and do. I’m nowhere near done! I have the travel bug, and it’s in my blood.

In the meantime, travel is about making new friends and having new experiences. Thanks to my recent travels, I now have penpals in Costa Rica, Argentina and Croatia. Those are some pretty incredible places, whether or not you had a local contact before you got there. And by the time you leave, you’ve got some great memories, and friends.

Frank, I concur…Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.