I’m a lucky girl. As I close my eyes and think back through 2010, a collage of faces runs through my mind. People I met during my travels. Attached to each face is a place, a story.
I’m curious about the phenomenon of “traveling for self fulfillment” (laid out clearly in Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert) that people seem to be attracted to. Yes, there’s a certain sense of independence and accomplishment in traveling, but in reflection, the richest parts of my travel aren’t really about me at all. They’re about relationships, people, climbing to the top of a mountain, breathing under the ocean over a reef, tasting wine in Italy, learning to roll a cigar in the Bahamas from a master, holding hands with a boy from Palestine and a girl from Israel at the same time. It’s not about trekking through Europe with blinders on and my head down on a personal quest to revamp my soul. It’s so much more, and so much bigger than just me. And in conversation, music, dancing, or crouching on a cobblestone sidewalk to simply watch, listen, the act of looking outside myself to study a man, a town, a city, or country is where the true reward of travel lies. Because in those raw moments of letting go, I realize I’m indeed part of a much larger, much more vibrant picture. In feeling that small, I find a different respect for the world, for travel. But, I say this in reflection, because often the best parts of travel are the anticipation of the trip or the memories from it. The actual travel part deals with Icelandic volcanoes, lost luggage, delayed planes, getting (accidentally) stuck in a Greek jail, over sized hostel bills and stolen wallets. But on reflection, by the warm fire in Minnesota, 2010 was sweet. It has been a good year.
As for 2011, so far I’ll be repping the Lost Girls at the Travel Adventure Show in Chicago, also featuring guidebook guru Rick Steves, so all of you Chi-towners and travel lovers should come. I head to Ireland in March (backpacking from Dublin to the west coast, hopefully getting in good hiking along the way). And the rest is unknown. Here’s to the adventure, 2011.