Making a travel wishlist

New York Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #124: There isn’t a place I wouldn’t want to go. I’ve spent the equivalent of weeks surfing “the inter-webs” researching different places to travel and unique experiences. I’ve read magazines like Travel and Leisure, watched Travel Channel shows like Bizarre Foods and No Reservations, and joined social communities like and to feed my urges. Pictures and descriptions of these tourist attractions and remote places around the world keeps my mouth salivating and my fingers tingling to write the next random observation. Two continents reached; five more to go. My dreams are looking more like reality.
Given my desire �" nay �" my obligation, to firmly grasp my opinion and preference on specific choices, the process of whittling down to a list of places to travel is excruciatingly difficult. If you could go anywhere, where would you go? This was a surprisingly hard question to answer even after I claim to understand my personal preferences and scratched the surface of possibilities through research. This is similar to asking someone, “What is your dream job?” Without restrictions, the mind goes wild, as it’s suffocated by the avalanche of possibilities, and has no idea what to choose �" it doesn’t even know where to start.

My internal scales and counterweights try to find the positive and negative aspects starting with the hemisphere, and then with climate �" these seem to be broad enough categories to narrow down the largest number of choices by the first split, making subsequent branches from this tree more effective. But even thinking about a warm versus cold environment, I’m not sure where I would rather be. I would like to pack fewer clothes, and I do enjoy beaches and nice hiking adventures, but there is that greedy (and possibly masochist) side in the back of my mind that begs for discomfort if it results in a solid opinion of a new experience.
Now, many would read this part and counter by prosing, “Do you need to touch fire to know that you’ll get burned?” or to the extreme, “Do you have to kill yourself to have faith?” First of all, why would you take these examples to the extremities when you know I would be calculated with my choices (tsk tsk)? And secondly, like everyone else in this world, I have been burned by fire. Although it wasn’t a 3rd degree burn, I learned my lesson, and continuing with more extreme experiments, would be idiotic. And thirdly, if I have a primary source defining the afterlife, I would most probably believe. Unfortunately, it would take a very convincing person to overturn all of my doubts.

Anyway, I digress, as usual. After thinking about climate, I would try to choose a continent that is filled with the essence of what I was trying to fulfill. If I were looking for history, I would go to Europe; for food, probably Asia; for deeper appreciation of running water and health care, Africa or South America. Well, now that I sit and consider the actual tours available around the world, I can sense a piece of nature and history in every trip. If I were to specifically consider technological advancements, then maybe the third world countries would drop from the choices. So I guess the more realistic separation depends on the GDP of the country, or even the specific city, you’re visiting. Would you consider a third world country as a part of your adventure? Can you pass those hot summer days without air conditioning and clearly labeled “buffet” to all insects? Does your definition of “vacation” involve bungee jumping, sitting on a beach at a resort, or traveling for weeks without showers?

This brings up a valid point �" perhaps the more useful separation (other than climate and comfort) would be to ask yourself what type of vacation you’re looking for. The world has so much to offer that there will definitely be a right location for the particular dynamic range of personalities that fits your state of mind this year. It might very well depend on your new year’s resolutions. Those who have fallen prey to the ever-so-controlling “Working Beast,” with the whips snapping and chains shackling every attempt for freedom, want nothing but a relaxing time to spend with friends and family. The exploration side of their life has been temporarily removed from their reality and replaced with an overflow of responsibilities. As these responsibilities slowly check themselves off (graduation from high school �" check; graduation from college �" check; steady income … ), I suspect this sense of adventure will return. Independent of when this occurs, I hope their knees can withstand their hearts desires.
For the traveling graduate with this sense of emptiness in their purpose and proper position stamped on the corner of a corner of a stained page in world’s history book, I suggest something more exciting than beach resorts, but something less promiscuous than stereotypical spring breaks. Based on this purpose-seeking format, I decided to indulge in a learning adventure. I could have chosen a food-centered country (not to say that I won’t eat), but I would feel less guilty feeding my taste-buds when my physique and health is less important. Besides, there would be so much less to look forward to when I’ve already tried every taste, texture, and consistency from every corner of the world. I hope the wrinkles I form will still maintain its curiosity and appreciation for surprises.
I could have also chosen that “deeper appreciation for life” path, spending my time helping those in need around the world with the Peace Corps or working with my professor in Ghana to engineer sustainable products that many people take for granted every day. Even though I would have loved to fully exercise my talents, I could already hear my parents’ worried wallows. There would be no way in Hell they would let me work backwards. If anything, they would ask me to consider changing the world at the horizon, not live in darkness to catch-up the less fortunate. It’s important to see that the other side exists as well, but I do understand my parents’ concerns, and I will leave the much more valiant achievements to the other engineers �" the engineers that deserve the utmost respect.

Because of this specific stage in my life, I have decided on the cliché “backpack trip around Europe”. There are many restrictions in my travel, which will be discussed in the subsequent entry, but for the most part, I’ve at least picked the hemisphere and even continent. What do I hope to find? Well, I’m not going to be actively looking because I do believe that these enlightenment moments are spontaneous and are very picky in only occurring when you least expect it. I will, however, aid the process by keeping my senses open to every angle in culture, history, and business. Whether it includes studying the different etiquettes and details that come with each culture, the mistakes we’ve all made throughout history, or the beauty of art, architecture, and life, I intend to absorb and filter the relevancy to finding a fitting career.

Interestingly enough, I don’t want this trip to be the solution to all my problems, nor do I want it to guide me to salvation �" I just want these experiences to make more splitting branches in my tree. I don’t expect the next six months to answer all of my questions, but I want to at least know that I have the question relevant to the category.

~See Lemons Want to go Everywhere

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