Five Dream Trips

It has been 335 days since my last big trip. Sure, I took a weekend getaway to NYC back in February, but we’re coming up on one whole year without a week-long adventure. It’s making me antsy.

I have a 1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die page-a-day calendar on my desk that shows me a different destination each day. (Today’s is Medina, Saudi Arabia.) I save the ones that really inspire me and when that mid-afternoon food lull inevitably hits, I stare at them and daydream about the trips I want to take.

I want to go nearly everywhere (although Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly high on my list…) but there are five trips in particular that I would categorize as dream trips. I don’t think any of these will be my Fall adventure since all five require money, time and serious planning, but who knows—maybe the law of attraction will help make one a reality for me in 2014.

In no particular order, my dream trips are:

1. Hiking the Grande Randonnée in France
Unlike most of my trip ideas, this particular one has a very distinct inception point: this article by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was drawn to the article because I enjoy Gilbert's travel writing (it's often exactly what I was talking about last week), and by the time I finished the article I knew I had to recreate her trip. 

The Grande Randonnée is a series of walking trails connecting small French towns from the border of Spain to the border of Belgium. I encourage you to read the article, but if for some reason you can't, the Cliff's Notes version is that Gilbert and her husband spent two weeks walking between towns in the South of France eating cheese and baguettes and drinking wine. Is it any wonder why I want to take this trip?

2. African Safari During the Wildebeest Migration
I went to South Africa five years ago and by far the coolest thing I did was go on a safari. I’ve always planned to go back and do a longer one, but this time I want to go to the Serengeti, specifically during the Wildebeest Migration. Every year huge numbers of wildebeest migrate south to north across the Serengeti following the rains. Naturally all the area predators come out to prey on the weak, making it an amazing time to spot wildlife. You can do a traditional jeep tour, but I'm all about the hot air balloon tour. I would be willing to go up in a hot air balloon here, but I suspect a view over the Serengeti is a wee bit better than anything I'm going to find in Tennessee.

Western Australia Tourism

3. Traveling the West Coast of Australia
If you’ve talked to me for longer than 10 minutes, you probably know my love of Australia. I spent four months there in 2006 and would not hesitate to move back if the opportunity arose. I spent my time on the East Coast—Sydney, Brisbane, even down to Hobart, Tasmania—but two different well-traveled individuals told me they had adventured west and "it was one of the most amazing trips" they've ever taken. It's not nearly as exotic as the savannahs of Africa, but Western Australia is one of the most remote areas on the planet, making the landscape is unique. Both of these individuals told me they've never seen so many stars as they saw in Western Australia. How many stars do you see when you go outside? Imagine looking at the skies in this video instead. (Starry skies start around 978.)

4. Southeast Asia
A few years ago I was involved in this work project that involved a lot of IT meetings that I didn’t understand. The meeting was once a week for an hour and a half and I literally didn’t understand a single thing. I would spend the first ten minutes trying to figure out what all the acronyms meant and what was going on with all this data before I gave up and started planning a trip through Southeast Asia. It would start in Bangkok; work through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos; perhaps swing over to Myanmar/Burma and maybe even head to Nepal and India; then head back east to Malaysia and Indonesia.

I eventually figured out enough of the IT lingo to do my part in that project, but I’m still dreaming about taking that trip.

Adventure Cycling Association

5. Bike Across the U.S.A.
This is the most recent addition to my list and the one that’s occupying the majority of my daydreaming time. Imagine how incredible that would be to see the country from the saddle of a bike. People actually do this so the route planning is as easy as buying a map from the Adventure Cycling Association.  In my case it would actually be two maps: one that gets me from Oregon to Virginia and another that goes from Virginia to Maine.

Think about it: the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the mountains and geysers of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National park, row upon row of corn stalks in the Plains states, the rolling hills of Appalachia, the quaint towns of the Northeast. If you time it right, you may hit the Northeast right when the leaves begin to turn for fall. Sure the trip would involve spandex, a sore bum and really bad tan lines, but THAT is the kind of adventure you tell your grandkids about from the comfort of your retirement rocking chair.

Okay, your turn? What is your dream trip? If it’s biking across the US, you know where to find a partner in crime…