This week, I spent some time planning a vacation to San Francisco, for which I will leave in about a week. The circumstances surrounding this upcoming trip are unusual in the sense that I actually decided to take a vacation before deciding upon the place I wanted to go. I don’t know how most people plan vacations, but for me, it’s usually the opposite – I come up with a destination and then start figuring out when it will happen and dealing with logistics.
Knowing I was going to have some time off of work and then trying to decide how to fill it was surprisingly difficult because the options were literally unlimited. I debated going down to Florida to see my grandparents and relax, I debated going to Ireland, and I even thought about just staying at home and hanging around Columbus.
The whole process got me thinking. I love to travel and experience new places and see different things. But at the same time, it’s also nice to find a place you enjoy and go back time and again. With limited vacation time (again, I reiterate the point that adulthood sucks), it can be hard to do both.
I have probably been to Naples, Florida, a hundred billion times. I love it there! I have my favorite restaurants where I like to eat, I know where the good beaches are, I know how to get around (somewhat), and I am all but guaranteed to have a good time. When thinking of taking a vacation, Naples is often a very tempting choice because I know what to expect and I know I’ll have fun.
Other places that fall into the I’ve-Been-There-But-REALLY-Want-To-Go-Back category are Paris, the South of France (all of France?), Vail, and the Greek Isles, especially Santorini. These are places I know I love. But just going to the same places over and over prevents you from seeing new places that you might end up loving just as much – or even more!
So, for my upcoming trip, I chose to go to San Francisco. I have actually been there once before, but I think that at this point in my life, I am better equipped to appreciate all the ins and outs and quirks of a city like San Fran that maybe I didn’t appreciate or even notice the last time I was there. In a way, it’s like getting the best of both worlds.
All of this got me thinking of all the places I have yet to see in my life. So I put together a Travel Bucket List. Of all the places I have never been and hope to visit, these are my top ten.
10. Somewhere in the Caribbean. Technically, I have been to the Caribbean. But it was on a cruise in college, so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count. We spent one day in Grand Cayman and ate at a Hard Rock Cafe (WTF, college self?), and that was basically it. So I would like to go back and have a relaxing, beautiful beach vacation in the Caribbean someday.
9. London. London just seems like such a neat, sophisticated and fancy place. I would love to go see all the sites and just take in the city.
8. Vancouver. I have always heard that Vancouver is a gorgeous city. It is supposed to be the best of both worlds – beautiful natural scenery and a lot of things to do outside, such as hiking, canoeing, etc., but yet still be a big, vibrant city with great restaurants and hotels.
7. Italy. Sorry I can’t even narrow it down more than just to say I want to visit this entire country. I think I could literally spend a month in Italy alone. This would entail, of course, devoting a sizable chunk of time to the Riviera and southern portion of the country, spending tons of time in the countryside at vineyards and gorgeous villas, and then seeing each major city: Rome, Venice, Florence, Sicily and Naples. And eating a lot of pizza. It will basically be “Eat Pray Love” minus the praying and the loving aspects ;)
6. Berlin and Munich, Germany. Sausage. Enough said.
5. Alaska. I get a lot of flack for this one. No one seems to understand my incredible desire to visit Alaska, but it is somewhere I have wanted to go for a really long time. You should know that I have a weird fascination with whales (all marine life, really, but mainly whales), and Alaska is known to be one of the best places in the U.S. to go whale watching. On top of that, I think Glacier National Park would be really cool to see. My one concern would be getting eaten by a bear. A pretty major concern, in reality.
4. Ireland/Scotland. Is it cheating to include both of these countries in one number? Fine, call it the United Kingdom, then. A long time ago, my dad, grandpa and uncles went on a golfing trip to Ireland where they drove all around the country and golfed at various golf courses and drank beer in pubs. I want to do this, but just without the golfing. (Upon re-reading this, it kind of sounds like I want to visit these countries and just get drunk and drive around, but that’s not exactly what I mean…then again, maybe it is?).
3. African Safari. This one is probably pretty surprising to a lot of people who know me. It has always been a dream of mine to go on a safari in Africa. It just seems like it would be so cool to see so many types of animals we’re only able to see on TV or in a zoo.
2. Wine Country (Napa, Sonoma). This should be highly self-explanatory to anyone who knows me even a little bit. I am including Monterey and Carmel in this trip, as well.
1. South Africa. This one, like Alaska, also has to do with whale watching to some degree. I have heard just amazingly wonderful things about South Africa, though, even apart from the whale watching, which is supposedly phenomenal. Obviously, South Africa has its share of political and social issues, but it is a gorgeous country that I would really love to visit some day.