I’d Like a 2nd Class Trip to Anywhere, Please!
For the majority of my travels, and there have not been too many (or nearly as many as I would have liked by age 24) I have done it the ‘right’ way. My boyfriend and I went to the travel agent four months before and always had our certain order of steps to take and questions to ask in mind. We were never shy about telling our agent what we wanted. After the second Caribbean resort experience you know what you want.
“So the place has to be adults only all-inclusive, have a big pool and is on the beach- a beach with clear water,” I say to Stacy, our Liberty Travel agent. “Oh, and the flight has to be direct.”
Getting off and on a plane is more than my little heart can handle. To risk the loss of precious luggage, fully equipped with brand new sundresses and tropical gear that still have the tags on? Absurd. But more importantly, it is a waste of valuable time. The diva in me will always throw down the extra money for a direct flight.
But when it comes to choosing the right place to visit… and spend over a thousand hard-earned dollars… I feel like it is totally appropriate to be a picky pain in the ass.
I will normally take the agent’s information and suggestions and go home to TripAdvisor.com, my travel Bible, to read what people are saying. I know, I know, everyone has different expectations and standards, but if 35 people are complaining about a misleading advertisement on the clarity of the beach water, well then I might listen to them, and typically do.
However, this year I want to throw away the diva travel-tude and venture out into the nitty-gritty. Although I was planning a last-minute trip back down to the islands in January, that will be by the book. Vacation. Sitting on my tanned butt sipping Mai-Tai’s, building sand castles that can house a small army of children, swimming in crystal clear water, sleeping on the beach, overindulging on seafood and booze, etcetera.
There will be opportunity for exploration, as there always is. But when you have all the wonders of an all-inclusive resort at your fingertips (excursions, fine foods, endless alcohol and entertainment) you will find few reasons to venture out of your hotel, where many of the surrounding villages can get dangerous. However, I have, and I met some great people down there. We drank, laughed and exchanged stories of our hometowns. It truly is a beautiful thing. And upon leaving it will be bittersweet. But this time around I want to really travel; I want to go into crowded marketplaces and eat food that is still squirming. I want to grab life by the balls! Woo! I said it.
Travel vs. Vacation
I was fortunate enough to make a study abroad trip happen to Spain for 2012. That will be less than two weeks, though, and I will not be with my close friends. I will actually, in a sense, be alone. I am predicting that this will be euphoric and life-changing. You may never see or hear from me again once I get a taste of real Sangria and a professional Matador. But for now, I need something to fill the void. The itch to go somewhere so different from here is spreading like wildfire. In fact, I have a full on breakout of the travel hives. I have to get out of here. I love Connecticut as a place to raise a family in another life; a life by the book, but that is not me and never will be. There is nothing here except convenient access to other really cool places like New York City and… foliage. I belong somewhere that my mind can be more creative and free. This place is burdening.
So to start off on my quest to get an idea of what life would be like elsewhere, I want to travel inside of the United States for a change. Upon a multitude of discussions with my friends, I believe that heading out West would be a good place to start. Throw it all at me at once. So if it is cliché to make my target California then so be it.
San Diego is known to have the nicest weather in the country. San Fransisco is believed to have some of the most artistic minds in the country. LA is popularly thought of as the most hip and happening youth culture in the country. Southern California has a ton of beaches to choose from which are ranked extremely high by those lucky bastards who work over at the Travel Channel. When it comes to settling down with my husband and children, I have a choice of cities and suburbs that will suit my new family and my love for the beach, warm weather and staying busy creatively. Not like here, where choices like that are limited. Maybe if you live in Connecticut and you feel differently, you can please tell me why. I would love to know.
If I take off anywhere nationally next year, I want to do it so down-to-earth that no one can tell I am a tourist. I hate that. Even when I go to New York City I want to fit in. I pretend I know the Subway lines better than I do. Taking pictures in front of a taxi cab is embarrassing for me, but I do it. I want to see it all like I have been there forever. The truth is, I do not know shit. Put me in the heart of Texas and tell me not to wear my cowboy boots from Bakers and find a real barbecue restaurant and I will fail.
Whether I choose California or the deep South, Colorado or Florida, I am doing it right. I want this to be a vacation (which in my terms means a break from the chains of homelife) and travel; see and experience culture and the people of these places- places I could potentially settle down in.
Laying by a pool for six hours in the heavy sun of Saint Lucia is a crazy awesome experience. The breeze blows and it is salty, fresh and clean. Perhaps you could move to the islands, but I will leave that for the bravest and take my chances inside the States.
I want to spend little to no time in my hotel. I want to balance a long hike with breathtaking views to a couple of hours in the heart of the city shopping and eating. I want to travel… learn.
Where will I end up? I have no idea and that is a glorious concept. The uncertainty of life scares people sometimes, but I am ready for it. I am so over the certainty of every day that nothing could scare me. If anything, I am scared of doing this, my life right now, for the rest of my existence. It is time to move on and out.
I know that whatever I do, I will be happy from here on out. Having the choice alone to get up and get out of here is so special. I have not used that God-given right to my fullest advantage. I am only getting older, we are only getting older. I cannot put off my dreams anymore, and I will not any longer. Neither should you. Giving up comfort to take a chance somewhere else can be the greatest choice you will ever make in your life. I have not done this to an extreme yet, but I am going on word of mouth. I am most certainly banking on success, happiness and most of all, clarity.