Shifting Travel Plans

November 2013

We all like to make plans and create lists. Well, at least some of us do. I came to travel relatively late: By the age of 30, I’d only been to two countries besides my own—Canada and Mexico. At 34 I set out for Tibet, spending my 35th birthday in Beijing. This ignited the travel bug, for lack of a better word, and shifting travel plans ever since.

I. Shifting Plans

This past Spring Break, my wife and I originally decided we’d just stay in. We both had work piling up we could get caught up on while still enjoying a few relaxing days at home. As March came closer though, we shifted plans and started thinking about New Mexico, as it offers terrain and architecture foreign to my wife. We started looking into flights, routes to drive, and even requested information from their tourism board.

Then my wife’s work called her to Israel the week before Spring Break, which got me thinking: Why not join up in Amman and explore Jordan together? I figured that we can explore the States any time, but how often does one get to see Petra?

This is not a lone incident. Planning for next spring, for instance, began with talk of Ethiopia or Kenya, then Australia or New Zealand, and we’ve ended up with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in a decision to explore part of the Silk Road. Mind you, this is all in the planning stages, when ideas float around and we see what sticks (and for how long).

II. Shifting Goals

Within a few years of international travel, I not only started added up the countries, but also the continents. When I hit four, I thought: Why not try to hit all seven before turning 40? By 38, I was still single and up to five. I had a summer trip planned that was going to take me to Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand (a very expensive trip that I couldn’t really afford, but I was a man on a mission). That gave me two winters to get to Antarctica (another trip I really couldn’t afford, but I had time to save up). So far, so good.

Then I fell in love and my summer in Australia became a summer based out of London, where my future wife was living at the time. As I hadn’t seen this coming (and am by no means complaining), I shifted plans. While I still want to set foot on all seven continents, this could be a “lifetime goal.” The new plan was to hit 50 countries before turning 50. Nice symmetry with that plan. But I’m 42 and, if all goes according to plan, will be hitting country 50 next summer.

This prompted my wife to ask, “Then what?” I think she was hoping that I’d be done now that I’d actually reached one of my shifting goals. My response: “Hit the next 50.” Better start planning.

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