In my post last week, I recapped the travel I did in 2019 and what I look forward to in 2020. As the week went on, though, I could not get the idea of starting a new decade out of my head.
As I look back over my life, I find it interesting how my travel style has changed. I also started thinking about future travel, not necessarily where I will go in the current decade, but where I hope to travel sometime in the future. In other words, what countries or travel experiences are still on my bucket list?
My First Travel
When I was a child, we traveled to a lake in Minnesota for two weeks nearly every summer. Only once that I remember, we did something different. We went out west and visited national parks, taking in the beauties of creation.
I was just about to enter high school. My parents wanted to attend the National Christmas Tree Growers convention in Oregon. Our family of seven traveled in a motor home for three weeks. There was a u-shaped couch (it was a bed at night) in the back where we often hung out during the long drives.
I remember reading a lot on that trip, frustrating my dad who wanted me to look out at the beauty as we drove. I do also remember the wonderful sites we saw and visited.
As an Adult
When I married my husband, I insisted we go to the lake I loved in Minnesota. He agreed, and fell in love with it, too. We continued to vacation in Minnesota throughout the years that our children were growing up. As a family, we also skipped a year due to a conflict. We enjoyed our vacation in Canada that year, although it wasn’t the same.
We continued to travel to the lake until my husband’s health did not allow it. The first few years we missed it terribly, but we learned to accept it. It’s been well over ten years, but I’d still love to go back.
My First Trips Abroad
Most of my siblings were able to travel to Europe in high school or college – a couple of them more than once. Unfortunately, I did not have that opportunity. When I graduated from college, I was already married, and within a couple years, we had our first child. Finances were lean, but I never gave up the dream of traveling abroad.
My opportunity came two decades ago. In the year 2000, I traveled with my mother to the Netherlands to attend a family reunion. We had a great time visiting small Dutch towns, but I came home with a severe case of wanderlust. It has not gone away.
When I returned home from that first trip, I convinced my husband that we should travel to Europe for our upcoming anniversary. We both enjoyed it tremendously. Upon our return, we started talking about taking our daughters to Europe for our next milestone anniversary.
The timing didn’t work out for that anniversary and my husband’s health had started to deteriorate. In 2009, however, my husband encouraged me to travel to Europe with my daughters (and one son-in-law). We had another great trip, but this time, some of my daughters also came down with a case of wanderlust.
Why I Travel
As I raised my daughters, one of my goals for them, as well as me, was Never Stop Learning. In all our travel, even the trips to the lake, I would try to involve learning in some way. The girls played learning games, read, or did other educational activities in the car. I also read, both in the car and while relaxing at the lake.
One year we took an extra day to get to the lake, so we could visit areas made popular in the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Of course, the girls all had to read the books before we left.
When I travel, I try to read up on the history of an area before my trip. I like to use audio tours or paper guides when visiting sites.
Most of all though, just visiting new places helps me learn. I love interacting with new people, getting to know the cultural norms that are different than mine. It is interesting to see that, although different, sometimes their customs make more sense than the ones I was raised with.
My travel has given me a better understanding of the world. I see why Europeans aren’t concerned with paying a much higher tax rate than I do. Although I appreciate how much space we have in our homes and our country, it’s disappointing that we cannot have a great public transportation system like the ones in countries I’ve visited.
Seeing and understanding other cultures helps me understand my own.
Travel Going Forward – My Bucket List
In my travels, I’ve visited North America, Europe, a little bit of Asia (only Japan) and a small amount of South America (just Columbia). I obviously have a ways to go. As far as continents, I’d love to visit Australia. I’d also like to see more of Asia and South America.
In Asia, I want to visit Japan again, but I’m also interested in seeing China. There are several other Asian countries further down the list. In South America, Brazil would be interesting. My daughter went to the Galapagos, which I would also like to do. And Patagonia would be wonderful.
There are still many parts of Europe that I haven’t visited. I’d like to go to Greece, pretty much anywhere in Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia. Norway is at the top of my list.
Even in countries I’ve visited, there are still areas that I want to visit again, or areas that I still need to visit. I’d like to go to Portugal (just had a layover there) and San Sebastian, Spain. I haven’t yet been to Rome, Italy – in fact I haven’t been any farther south than Florence.
Even here in the United States, there are places I haven’t visited. The list could go on and on. As much as I’ve traveled, I have enough to see that it could take me several more decades. I guess it’s time to start making plans…