When I was a teen, I would watch the airplanes leaving Maui and fantasize about where they could take me. Ironically they were all full of tourists going home from their adventures on my island. I knew every inch of that island. I had been to every corner and explored every cranny. While kids on the mainland dreamed of surfing our beaches, my dream was to be a teenager in California, so I could get in a car and just drive for days and days and never see the same place twice. To this day, when I get in our van and we head out on the road, I feel the urge to just keep driving and never go home.
If I found a magic lamp, captured a leprechaun, or won the lottery, I would do one thing. I would travel. I would rent a jet and a pilot and rent homes for a week at a time all over the world. I might take a break from that to pack a backpack and ride some trains for a while. I would wander the streets of every city. I would see all the art, eat all the food, drink all the booze, and fumble my way through every language. I love traveling to new places and sleeping away from home so much, that I even like business trips.
Unfortunately I never got to go on a walkabout. I was so career driven and riddled with student loans that I never took time to travel before getting married and having a kid. And as a New Yorker, the city was my playground. It was so expensive, I never felt compelled – or could I afford – to leave. The times I did leave was to go home to visit my family on Maui. My real traveling amounts to a week in Italy in high school, Paris for a week in college, and a few scattered trips with Tom around the Americas. I regret not fitting in more.
As a traveler, I am a wanderer. I don’t carefully craft itineraries. I don’t make reservations or have a checklist of sights to see. My favorite way to absorb a place is to take really long walks (or bike rides). I pack some cash and wear some good walking shoes and an extra layer and head out. This is where the magic happens.
All of my favorite travel memories are like walking through the back of a wardrobe into Narnia. In Costa Rica I took a long walk on the beach and stumbled upon Lola’s, a laid back surf club with massage, yoga and killer margaritas. In Italy I wandered through the back alleys of Assisi and found a tiny trattoria where the owner/waitress/cook taught me that when an unmarried woman wipes up sauce with her bread it means it’s going to rain – all in pantomime. In Paris I found a cafe where I met a science fiction writer and we spent the entire day smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. I like to sit in museums or churches all day and draw. I like to talk to strangers.
When I travel, my natural tendency to end up in fabulous places with fabulous people by accident is amplified. I truly let go and surrender to whatever the world wants for me. This effect is best experienced when traveling alone. Rick Steves would agree that you are more open to being invited into the conversations and along on the adventures of others if there is just one of you. Luckily Tom has learned to wander along with me and is a good conversationalist so he makes friends easily. He also provides the added benefit of keeping me safe and warm at night.
One of my goals in the next five years, is to plan some serious travel. I have my eye on a trip through Portugal, Spain and Morocco. I would love to go and see my friend Will in South East Asia. And of course, New Zealand is the perfect place for a wanderer like me. And who knows, maybe an opportunity for travel will pop up that I haven’t even thought of yet.
This post was inspired by:
Prompt #20 (Nov 22) Some people travel to relax; some travel to remember. Some reinvent themselves into entirely new people when they travel. What kind of traveler do you turn into and what does life look like for you on the road?