Always Have Your Next Trip in Mind

Nick’s travel website is almost live. He’s patiently waited for me to finish editing the first round of pieces for the Katelyn “stamp of approval.” I believe all forms of the website and various social media outlets should be ready in the coming week. Stay tuned…

Over the previous month, I’d had many conversations about travel. Lorenzo, the Italian stud, is jetting off to Greece to sail a boat with his friends for two weeks. John & his fiancee are planning an 8 month backpacking voyage through Southeast Asia after their wedding in October. There are bachelor parties in NOLA and romantic adventures to California. It seems everyone is coming and going to exciting new places. 

While playing in the waves on the Jersey Shore, Brian asked me if I had any trips planned. What was up next on the bucket list? Anything more immediate than quitting (again) for a trip through Asia? I was embarrassed to tell him…no. During my summer weekends I’ve escaped the oppressive city heat for Lake George or Connecticut but nothing big was planned on the horizon. No PTO scheduled, not since New Orleans. Brian and I both seemed lost in the schedule of our own little lives and it wasn’t until the ferry home that I heard my father’s voice entering my brain.

Always have your next trip in mind. 

How had I forgotten this essential Tsukada rule? The next trip is as reliable as the horizon. And like the horizon, those distant mountains or island speck may be far away, but the goal is visible and the path is clear. The question is a matter of “when” not “if” thereby making the next great adventure all the more attainable. There is a defined reason to save up pennies and research new attractions. It is this knowledge of the Next Trip and accompanying opportunity to leave a routine that is the most enticing feeling I know. 

 inspirational-travel-quotes-susan-sontag

And so Boyfriend Billy and I going to Nashville, Tennessee. 

The reasons are fairly straight forward. It’s closer than the west coast in an area of the country we’ve never seen. There is a culture of Southern hospitality, authentic music and good food. In recent years, Nashville has exploded in a flurry of hipster coffee, restaurants and have yet to raise their prices to those of other major tourist destinations. With a round trip ticket for under $300, Nashville seemed like the perfect place for the Next Trip. 

My Inbox is bulging with airline and hotel reservations, to-do lists and recommendations from friends. We’ll each be taking three (yes three!) days off of work to maximize time away from the grinding 9-6pm. All of a sudden, I looked up from the sidewalk and realized that the horizon was a whole lot closer than I’d originally thought. September 23rd will be here before I know it. 

So do it, friend. And I don’t mean buy an airplane ticket or quit your job. I mean, pick a place where you’d like to go and make sure it’s clearly embedded in your mind’s horizon. Because you may not know when you’ll get there, but someday has to come around eventually. 

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Confusion in Numbers

I spent the last ten days on the Greek island of Santorini, exactly six more days that I had originally planned. My trip was partly delayed due to the black sand beaches and the perfect weather. The connecting ferry to Turkey only ran three times a week and Thursday became Sunday, which became Tuesday all too fast. But my trip was also delayed because of the incredible group of travelers I met during my stay. This group of people seemed to be as captivated by the island as we were with one another and we spent every waking moment enjoying this little slice of paradise together.P1050189

The group, composed of Canadians, Australians, Germans, Philippinas, Haitians, Spanish, Greeks, Colombians, Indians and Americans, all shared a love of travel. And in this love, we also shared a mutual desire for some change from our lives back home. Three women (including myself) quit their jobs to travel alone. One woman spent a month in a meditation retreat and an Australian girl longed to return to Santorini instead of attending university in the fall. Chanae, the person I met in Athens and followed to the island, hadn’t been back to Australia in almost two years and had no clear date for returning home. I felt as if we were all searching for something–an answer perhaps–without clearly defining the questions at hand.  

Some travelers want to see the world. For them, the questions are simple: “How can I travel forever?” or “How can I increase my maximum vacation time?” But for others, I think the search is much less defined. Will I find someone to love me? What should I do with the rest of my life? These questions will not be found within stamped passport pages or months overseas. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try. P1050161

One evening, I found myself wandering the streets of Oia before meeting up with the group for the famous sunset. The day had been full of sightseeing and my skin was tight under a layer of sea salt and sweat from my morning swim and afternoon hike. I was dehydrated and my legs threatened to give out as I trudged up a rocky path to get a better view of the coast. 

P1050437Down the hill and to the right, I spotted a car. It had been unoccupied for quite some time based on the model and the thick layer of rust underneath the faded blue paint. No wheels remained and someone has piled large rocks onto the driver’s seat and under the hood. On the back left end of the car in scratched white lettering, the words What is life? had been written. P1050438I sat in the fading light of the Santorini sun for a long time staring out to sea and contemplating the words of the car. I thought about this new group of friends: our morning yoga during the sunrise on Perissa Beach and the nights spent comparing cultures over wine and ouzo shots. I thought about my imminent move to New York City and my undefined relationships with people back home. I thought about the pressure I put on my European exploration to conquer some great internal unknown I had yet to identify.

P1050267Despite my desire to travel alone, I secretly craved a community of people who loved exploring the world as much as I did. I wanted to find others who would rather shoulder a backpack and book a flight than map out their next logical career path. And in every hostel in every country, I found those such people. They, like the car, didn’t have the answers to life’s big questions either. And that was something…

For I’d rather spend time contemplating the meaning of life with equally confused people than trying to figure it out all alone. P1050150

 

Highlights of Nice, France

Nice, France Highlights:

Due to the large Catholic holiday on August 15th, I decided to hunker down and spend a whole week in the coastal city of Nice. I would only recommend that much time if you are in the mood to relax and enjoy the weather, casino and local bars. Considering it was the beginning of my trip, I didn’t want to spend most of my days lying on the beach but still found fun things to do while I was there.P1020718

Vieux Ville- The “old city” in English, this was my favorite part of Nice. I walked through narrow streets filled with small cafés, souvenir stands and specialty shops selling Provence lavender, soaps and artisanal cookies. The gelato and pizza stands were outnumbered only by the tourists that shuffled along the cobblestones with cameras in hand. At the center, the streets opened up to reveal a large open market. In the morning, the stalls are filled with fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. In the evening, the food is replaced by watercolor paintings, purses and jewelry for sale. The perimeter of the square is lined with restaurants and outdoor tables under awnings boasting the freshest fish and cheapest wine. 

Beach- Crowded and pebbly. I would recommend waiting until evening, picking up a cheap bottle of wine and finding a spot on the shore to watch the sunset.P1020807

Matisse and Archaeological Museum- Not only are both museums free, they are necessary stops in this French city. The Matisse museum is well situated in the middle of a large garden, perfect for picnics and dog walkers. I spent about an hour in the museum looking at the Matisse collection before heading over to the Archaeological Museum to see stone ruins of ancient Roman baths as well as the smallest Greco-Roman amphitheater, well persevered next to the museum’s entrance. Near these two museums is another church with beautiful botanic gardens and an expansive view of the city. P1020794

Main Square and Fountains- The main center is perfect for families with children. The wide network of water jets are built into the ground and erupt without warning, shooting plumes of water high into the sky, disappearing as quickly as they come. Kids can also plan in the massive jungle gyms shaped like water creatures located to the east on the way toward the contemporary art museum (also free). I spent over an hour writing on a park bench, listening to the sounds of splashing feet and high pitched giggling. P1020708

Park- I found a large patch of green in the northwest corner of my Nice map. Feeling adventurous, I somewhat skillfully navigated the network of local buses and made my way to the center of supposed patch of wilderness. My excitement in finally finding the location was replaced with disappointment finding the gates closed with a sign indicating the park was closed for the entire month of August. No one in Italy works in August including the wilderness.

[Finally, my French blogs are done. Next stop: Italy!]

Kate’s 8: Steps for Planning a Travel Adventure

Here is a list of tips I learned while planning my trip. Nothing groundbreaking but definitely important things to keep in mind. While these fortune cookies of advice are focused on travel aboard, they could apply to anyone ready to travel somewhere new. 

Thinking or wishing about your own trip somewhere abroad? Consider the following (in order):

Kate’s 8: Steps for Planning a Travel Adventure

  1. Make a list. Where do you want to go? How many countries/cities do you want to explore? Start big but know when to pare down. Think about distance, budget and timeline before committing to any set plan.
  2. Ask friends for advice. Chances are at least one of your friends or friend of friends have been to the destination you’re dying to visit. Fellow travelers love giving tips and recommendations so don’t be afraid to ask. Cast a wide net to seek out help…or ask them to come along!
  3. Research necessary logistics. This is super important. Research the places you are going and make sure you have all the necessary visas, vaccinations and a valid passport. Contracting a deadly disease or deportation shouldn’t be at the top of your bucket list. 
  4. Purchase the ticket and tell everyone you know. There is something incredibly final about clicking “pay” and receiving that Ticket Confirmation in your Inbox. When I first started planning, I had countless people asking me when I was leaving, where I was going, and when I was coming back. I needed to have some answers, both for them and for myself. You WILL be held accountable by your friends and family. Buy the ticket and don’t look back. 
  5. Start shopping early. Researching the right backpack and  hiking sandals takes time. Don’t get stuck with equipment or shoe apparel you’re not happy with or get forced into expedited shipping so your Osprey 55 L Farpoint will show up three days before you leave. For your procrastinators, Amazon Prime is a godsend. 
  6. Save, save, save. This might be the trickiest part. You will need to make some changes in order to accumulate the money, time and willpower to go. I recommend keeping a piggy bank or personal travel fund that you pay into every week. Made your lunch instead of going out? Add $5.00 to the money jar. Chose a smaller apartment to save on rent? Add $50 each month. Investing incrementally is a great way to save money while focusing on the larger goal instead of the daily sacrifices. 
  7. Give yourself a buffer window. Whether you’re taking time off of work, traveling after school or quitting your job, it’s important to have some time to prepare and reflect before jet setting on your incredible adventure. Set aside some buffer time (if you can afford it) before leaving for your trip. I gave myself almost a month between the time I left my job and left the country. Double checking the packing list and getting a couple nights of zzz’s will make you more alert and ready to go!
  8. Don’t wait. There will be no “right time” for you to go on a trip. Life is a series of somethings or someones you won’t want to leave behind. Truth is that those people, those careers, and those responsibilities will all be there when you get back. Don’t underestimate the incredible opportunity to see the world and fulfill your wanderlust. Chances are, you won’t regret anything but the trip not taken. 

Be brave. Trust yourself. See something new. 

Sacred Rim, WY
Sacred Rim, WY

The First of Many by Some

The small turtles emerge from their soft opaque eggs. They push their noses up above the sand and in turn make mad dashes across the beach down to the ocean beyond. They have no prior knowledge of the sea but these turtles’ instinctual need has been weaved into their subconscious of centuries past. This lifelong adventure has finally arrived and as the moon emerges from behind the clouds, a trained ear can almost hear the sound of flippers sliding into the waves.baby-sea-turtle-on-sand

On Tuesday morning, I watched Tony lug a heavy black suitcase, small backpack and ukelele case down the driveway and into my car. I had offered Tony, a high school friend’s younger brother, a ride back to Northampton and he had graciously accepted. After graduating from Amherst College in May, Tony wanted to make some last minute trips before leaving the country. His final destination: Nepal.

Tony will spend the better part of a year living in Kathmandu, living at a school and teaching Nepalese children. This trip will be Tony’s first time on the airplane. It will also be his first trip out of the country and the first time he will spend 10 months in a place where the primary language isn’t English. A fleet of maiden voyages rolled into one massive vessel.

On the car ride to Northampton, we talked about the experience and value of visiting a foreign country. He asked me about homesickness and culture shock. I told him about the transition returning home and the sad reality that your family and closest friends will not really care about your experience so different from their daily lives. I told him to take pictures and journal often. I told him this trip would teach him as much about himself as the world as a whole.

I distinctly remember my first international trip to Paris and first airplane flight to Tucson. I remember the six months in Denmark, navigating a foreign city as if it was my home and all the countries since then in my journal, camera and memory. My love of travel hatched early and since graduating high school, I spent every year planning my next great adventure.

For some, the first life-changing travel experience happens much later in life or does not happen at all. I can only hope that every person who wants to see a new city, visit a new country or explore a new culture has the opportunity to do so in his or her life. It is not so important when the turtles reach the ocean as long as they make it off the shore. 

Baby turtles on beach.preview