As a tour coordinator, I spend a lot of time pitching travel to a variety of destinations—from a walking tour of Tuscany to a houseboat trip to the backwaters of Kerala, India. Because I’m curious about where people want to go, and what they want to do once they arrive, I often ask about their travel bucket list. The response is interesting. Some folks can easily provide a complete destination rundown. Others have a few destinations in mind, or a couple of places they definitely don’t want to go. But most people can’t come up with anything definitive—just the desire to travel at some vague time. In other words, they don’t have a vision for their travel future. When people lack vision about travel, they are less likely to go, and going is important—especially while you can.
My Aunt Blanche, who lived to be 97 and was a school teacher for 40 years before retiring, is a perfect example of why people who want to travel need to do it. She and her husband, my Uncle Art, didn’t have a lot of money, but they wanted to see the world. So, as soon as they retired, they went on every Elder Hostel trip they could afford until they were in their late 70s. That’s when my uncle died, and although Aunt Blanche loved to travel, meet new people, and explore various cultures, she just didn’t want to go without my uncle, and, as she explained, she had reached her “travel saturation point.” She had collected enough great memories—and stories—to last her for the rest of her life. Often, she would tell me, “Travel while you can and collect the memories for when you’re older. They’ll be much better than anything you can watch on TV—except maybe the history channel.”
My aunt’s experience has become my travel legacy. Like her, I want to see as many countries as I can, and retain as many sights, sounds, tastes, and smells as possible. At the same time, one of my missions is encouraging people to do the same—to join a tour I’m promoting, but to also take the time to create a travel bucket list, and then begin planning—especially those once-in-a-lifetime adventures. In addition to meeting your travel dreams, the advantage of planning ahead is that you have time.
• Learn as much as you can about the culture and history of the area you’ll be visiting.
• Talk to people who have been there and learn about places that aren’t in the tour guide.
• Recruit friends and family members—especially those who would be good travel companions.
• Be certain your shots, passport, and any visas you might need are up to date.
• Look for travel deals. Sometimes joining a tour can really help you cut costs.
• Save the money you need for your trip and make sure you can stick to your travel budget.
What’s on my travel buck list? Africa was at the top of my list, and I managed to spend 17 days in South Africa in 2011. Next is India because I’ve always wanted to see the Taj Mahal, the pink city of Jaipur, and the backwaters of Kerala. After that it’s: Kenya for a wildlife safari, Central and South America, especially Peru to see the Amazon, Machu Picchu and L. Titicaca, and the tropical wildlife of Guatemala and Belize.
Vietnam and Angkor Wat are also in the list as well as Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, with a little bit of Europe sprinkled in between.
If India is on your travel bucket list, then you might want to join me and Janine Martin, my co-travel coordinator, on a guided tour leaving Nov. 7. We will meet at Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters April 24 to talk about the trip. The itinerary is posted at http://janandjanineinindia.grouptoursite.com. For more information call Jan Fishler at 530-277-9173.