Ready or Not, Here I Come!
Hide and seek was my favorite game as a child (other than forcing my sister Jessica to play opposite my princess as the loyal steed). I loved that each new game was a mystery to be solved. Whether hunter or prey, it was easy to experience suspense, adventure and anticipation every time. Unfortunately, there was a major flaw in my strategy as my go-to hiding place was the middle of the living room rug…Believing that if I couldn’t see them then they couldn’t see me, I would curl up in child’s pose with my eyes tightly shut for all the world to find. Eventually I figured I better stick to seeking.
I grew up negotiating as many study abroad opportunities as I could or stowing away on short business trips in return for doing all of the bookings. If there are long periods of time where I can’t leave – classes, internships, investment banking – I like to become a tourist in my own city. Getting out amongst ‘em in a place I am “settled” is always a fun way to see it in a new light. Taking a paddle boarding class on Pensacola Beach. Reading my book on the grounds of Cheekwood plantation outside Nashville. Seeing a concert at the Ryman on a night off from being fratty. Planning a tea party at the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Music City. Hiking in Blue Ridge Mountains west of Charlotte or piling my friends into a car to drive an hour east to Lexington, NC for some of the most famous wet barbeque in the South.
Some events can be hit or miss, but that’s the case in most places, and the bad stories are sometimes the better ones. Oh, please excuse my language above! I used the ‘T’ word.
The word ‘tourist’ has become a four-letter word, synonymous with conspicuous, ignorant and naïve. Most of we wanderlusters like to consider ourselves travelers, naturally immersing and getting in touch with some deeper, cultural connection to a place or its people –
Traveling not to see, but to know.
I just try not to be so quick to judge. However sneaky, I like to think of myself as a tourist now and then because the balance helps me to remember that I’m a guest…
The most common questions I’ve received from folks about my upcoming gap year(s) are (1) “How did you pick where to go?” and (2) “How are you packing?” I’ll post on packing periodically when I’ve found something to be helpful or done something pretty dumb that could be funny, but let me confess that this site isn’t attempting to be the best “how-to-travel-around-the-world” guide. It’s just how I do. There are so many amazing and comprehensive resources out there that I have leaned on while planning for this departure and will try to include in future posts or in the side bar.
To answer the questions though: Pack light and carry a big list. Most days I want to go everywhere and then back again, so trying to start with carte blanche and a globe (which we did) was too overwhelming. We took a different approach.
It’s fun to think of upcoming trips in terms of what experiences I want to have rather than just the sites I should see. It’s thrilling to look forward to negotiating a rug deal in a Turkish Bazaar rather than writing down “see Sultanahmet, the older section of Istanbul”. So always looking for an excuse to make a yummy list, Heather and I each wrote down our top 10-15 experiences that we wanted to have during the year, put them in order by geography, and that became the structure of our route. It was also pretty cathartic, as we were clearly stating the dreams we hope to realize in return for taking the risk.
Here is our awkward, large loop-double-back-route based on our bucket list. In an attempt to live this year moderately unprompted, nothing is truly “planned” except our foundational flights into and out of regions. We are starting in Asia because we had to make a wedding. Tough, huh?
Himalayan Trek to Everest Base Camp
Meet a Monk at Angkor Wat
Celebrate Josh’s Wedding in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Junk Bonding on Halong Bay
Rise and Shine with the Rice Fields of Bali
Hang Ten (or maybe just nine) at the Great Barrier Reef
Hike the Milford Track outside Christchurch, New Zealand
Dive in the South Seas, Bora Bora
Evolve with the Species in the Galapagos
Camp in the Chilean Patagonia
Taste the Winelands of Mendoza
Be on Time for a Tango Lesson in Buenos Aires
Stay Sporty in South Africa
Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
Photograph a Serengeti Safari
Take a Dip in the Red Sea
Explore the New World in the U.A.E.
Meet Mindy in Shanghai
Ride a Horse in Mongolia
Read Tolstoy on the Trans Siberian Railroad
Dine with Friends in St. Petersburg
Find a Favorite Fjord in Norway
Mind the Bull Crossing, Pamplona
Cheer on Team USA, Summer Olympics, London 2012
Coast along the Amalphi
Roadtrip from Dubrovnik to Montenegro
To Come Home or Not, October 2012
I recently read a magazine (buy one!) interview with hotel expert Hervé Humler, the newly named president and COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. where he posed that for some “traveling is not a want but a need.” From a (short) lifetime of feeling compelled to seek, I acknowledge that the pull can be stronger than a desire. There are countless monikers for this condition, my favorites being peripatetic, wanderlust and itchy feet. I wonder if there’s a cure. I hope not.
This column is dedicated to my little sister Jessica Taylor who steadies my fancy for fleeing with her unabashed desire to stay. Her presence in and preference for our hometown compels me to come home and makes her the smartest of the three. I look up to you.