My friend James and I were recently talking about travel – which isn’t very surprising since we both love to see the world, meet new people, and discover new insights about ourselves through the lens of travel. James works in finance and I’m a writer – so sometimes the types of travel we do aren’t as similar as our personalities. His work gives him the financial resources to plan much bigger, but my work allows me to find ways of getting where I want to go and doing what I want to do in a way that most people never get to – i.e. on the fly and by the seat of my pants.
There were a couple of things we agreed on – first, the world is filled with wonders and astounding travel adventures that truly are the stuff of dreams. A look through the web will introduce you to everywhere and everything but here are some dream holidays to set you longing. Next, whether you are going to Timbuktoo (in Mali) or to Paris (do I need to say where?) it pays to do your research. I admit, that I’ve done a lot of seat of the pants travel where I go to a new country, city, or region without knowing a thing about it (you know, little places like China and Spain), but the truth is, that was more of a conceit – a way for me to say “Hey, look what I can do” and more of the truth is that when I’ve sat and carefully planned out a trip – I’ve generally had a more satisfying time of it. While it was thrilling to arrive in China without knowing where I was going to stay or how to get from the airport to anywhere – it was far better to arrive in Jakarta, know how far my hotel was, how much the fare should be, and how long it would take to get there.
The thing is – you can always change your plans and that is what gives you options – options equal freedom.Seat of your pants you are pretty well stuck to deal with it – so if you’re a masochist like me- you can put yourself in torturous situations and see how you cope (like going to the Balkans without knowing anything about the language, culture, history, or character of the people there) or you can do like James (and like me in my smarter moments) and actually plan the holiday of a lifetime. I hope that I am becoming wiser as I get older – and the truth is that while it is a bit daunting to actually see how much a trip will cost – you are going to pay it whether you know it or not – forewarned is forearmed – or something like that.
The final point we agreed on was that the key to a rich experience is a combination of anticipation, unique experience, and being able to be fully in the moment. That, my friends is the recipe fot the travel of a lifetime. Planning allows you to build up a well formed sense of anticipation. While it may be wonderful to see the Mona Lisa in person (she is so small), a richer experience would be taking a painting class in Paris. Finally, by having a plan in place – you no longer need to worry about where the next meal, the next bed, or the next flight will be – you can dive into that tour, class, or beautiful view.
With all of that in mind – I offer a few places and holidays that might appeal to you.
Cappadocia, Turkey. Sleep in a luxurious cave, eat Michelin star chef prepared meals, watch the sun rise from a hot air balloon as you gaze out at the fairy chimneys. Yes, I’ve done this and I still dream about it.
Fez, Morocco to the Sahara. Lay your head on silk pillows in a pasha’s palace, wander through the largest living Islamic medina in the world, get in a private car and head to the Sahara where you will trek by camel through the mighty sands, dance with Berber drums, and sleep in a luxury tent. Yes, I’ve done that too and it changed me profoundly.
The Aegean. From Izmir, Turkey to the Greek Islands – the Aegean is a wonderland of dreams where azure waters soothe your skin at the perfect temperature and the Meltemi winds drive you to find safe harbors. Never mind the disco lifestyle, it’s the fishermen and tavernas that make me dream of the Aegean. The ferries and raki of Turkey, the colorful houses of Greece, the cheese. If I disappear – this is where you are likely to find me. The five star luxury of Thessaloniki and the treehouses of Olympos. Yes.
Ah, as I write this- I almost feel the urge to start planning a new adventure – but for the moment – I am already on one building a life in Reedsport, Oregon for my wife from Morocco and the daughter we made in Turkey. If you’d like to read some of my adventures – including those above – you should grab a copy of Smooth Living. Where do your dreams take you?