My Travel Wish List

Clockwise from top left
Rwinkwavu, Rwanda / Monteverde, Costa Rica, / Tikal, Mexico / The Grand Canyon

I'm not one of those people who starts to get antsy if they've been at home three weekends in a row. I love the familiarity and comfort of the place that's mine. But I do also enjoy seeing new places - appreciating the change in landscape, marveling at the different cultures, and being challenged to expand my view of the world and of humanity. Many of my most treasured experiences have been while traveling.

I move through my list slowly because it's not always our biggest financial priority, and we seem to have put our backpacking, hostel-staying days behind us (at least for now). We're not taking big trips overseas every year. But I hope we'll have a lifetime to get to all these lovely spots.

The Galápagos Islands

I have wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands since I learned all about Charles Darwin my freshman year of high school. While I truly do not have a mind for science, I do have an innate love for the natural world (minus spiders). One of my favorite things to do on any trip that involves the potential for flora and fauna sightings is to carry a little guidebook or guide sheet (like the laminated folding ones they sell at national parks) so that every time I see something interesting, I can whip out my little sheet and identify it. There's probably some sociological or psychological message in there, but it brings me an enormous amount of satisfaction. The notion of all these unique animals in a space that is simultaneously their natural habitat and protected and available for viewing just delights me. And my inner amateur photographer is just dying to come home with photos of a blue-footed booby.

York, England

I'm cheating a bit on this one since I've already been to York. Twice, actually. But they were short day trips, and each of them simply solidified my desire to visit for a longer period of time. During my first visit to York, with my family at age 15, we had afternoon tea at Bettys, and it was enchanting. I have always been (and will likely always be) completely smitten with all things that quaint and romantic. Sitting there, dining on scones and little sandwiches from a beautiful tiered tea stand, I felt as if I had entered a different era. Years later, I've had tea several other times at restaurants and cafes looking to create that same feeling, but no one does it for me like Bettys. I even convinced several of my friends to travel there with me for an afternoon tea while I was studying abroad in college. Of course, a tea room seems a silly reason to travel all the way to England. But it's more than that. The whole city endeared itself to me in one short afternoon, with a little stroll down its narrow streets lined with shops and a stop in a large square where a small marching band was entertaining the crowd. I want more. 

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

While she was working in Rwanda, my sister took a trip to Tanzania for a safari. Her pictures afterwards were all I needed to see to confirm that I absolutely, definitely, without a doubt want to go on a safari there. She woke up in the morning with an elephant just a few feet from her tent! She watched a mama lion with her cubs. In real life. Not on the discovery channel, and not in a zoo. I had the incredible opportunity to go on a gorilla trek in Rwanda, and the short time I spent in the presence of those animals remains one of my favorite life experiences. And the animals were not the only stars of the show. The landscape is simply spectacular. Once again, my camera is trying to bust out of its bag just because I'm writing this. But even if I couldn't take pictures, I want to spend a few days in a place that beautiful and unique.

The Aran Islands, Ireland

I have wanted to go to Ireland for as long as I can remember. My desire is largely based on romantic notions about the Irish brogue, rousing pub music, and the misty view from a craggy cliff. The combination of old world life and the natural beauty of the Aran Islands drew me in. I love historical sites with archaeological remains, and I adore the fact that the stone wall running throughout the entire group of islands acts like a reminder of the passage of time. Aside from learning about the history of the area, a trip here would be all about taking in the gorgeous scenes and wandering through the little towns. And the knitter in me definitely wouldn't leave without an Aran sweater

I know. This is a little...broad. I can't make up my mind about something specific. India's a big place, and as one would expect, it seems that different parts of the country have really different cultures. Ideally, I'd love to spend a month or more traveling to many areas - the beaches that my wife has talked so much about, the mountains, the cities that will overwhelm me. I want to eat so much delicious Indian food that it's almost ruined for me once I return home. And I want to actually experience a place that is so connected with particular ideas in our rhetoric and in our movies - the yogi, the slums, the bins of brightly colored spices, the cows in the streets, the children shouting and banging on the car windows. I'm not starting with a huge knowledge base on this one, but perhaps that's better - I'll be more open to learning and experiencing when I do have the opportunity to go.

What is on your travel list?

p.s. This was one of my most incredible travel experiences.