Today’s my birthday!
I wasn’t sure I wanted to announce to the world that I was turning the big 3-0. If I’m honest, it makes me feel old…. and what woman wants to feel old? I don’t think I look my age. I got asked for ID buying wine at the supermarket earlier this week! The fact that I’m a shortie plus my adult braces (bleugh!) probably help.
Reflecting back on what I’ve acheived in my 30 years on this planet is interesting. I was never the most studious person (despite gaining a postgrad degree in Forensics). I was never the corporate ladder climbing type (despite having had good jobs on two continents). Being a Wife and a Mom is where it’s at for me… and I’m pretty happy about it! Reuben is definitely my greatest accomplishment in life and I’d be hard pressed to do anything without my wonderful Husband.
I am so glad that I’ve got an outlet, something outside of my family… yes I know it’s a family travel blog but, despite my niche, my blog is something that is still all me. When you’re a mother, I think it’s super-important to have something in life to focus on outside of your child – whether that’s a business, a job, a hobby or a sport. I’m so fortunate to have found blogging. It’s a real saviour to my sanity at times. Having someone that literally needs you to survivor can be draining both physically and emotionally (….I’m talking about the baby NOT the blog!). You can forget everything you know about life and the outside world and get wrapped up in this demanding, noisy little person. Blogging is my “me time”. I make a conscitious effort to eek out a little time to myself every day – to use my brain, to network, to be my own person.
Travel has always been the activity that defined my life. Whether that meant giving up a social life for a year to save for my first trip to Vietnam, moving to the other side of the world and basing myself in London so I could explore Europe or spending two months bumming around Asia to mend a broken heart – it’s always been about travel. And it always will be.
I’ve worked out how to incorporate a child into my travel-hungry lifestyle. I’ve got a brilliant husband who can make us money wherever we are in the world. I’ve got a creative outlet for my mind and soul. I think I’ve cracked the code to a happy life.
So… what’s next?
My real travel began when I turned 21 with my first trip to Vietnam (prior to that travel only meant family trips to Australia as a child). I’ve been to 22 countries:
New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, England, Italy, Vatican City, France, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, United States of America, Egypt and United Arab Emirates
I’ve been thinking for a while about what I want to achieve going forward. We’ve got a vague bucket list but we’re not actively checking things off, more just going about our travels, discovering more and more things we’d like to do in the world and adding them to the pile.
I don’t think I’m overly competitive but occasionally it’s an urge that flairs up – like in a pencil-breaking game of pictionary or a need to have the most gold stars on a schoolroom chart. I do like the feeling of checking things off. I’m making the bold statement that…
…by the time I’m 40 I would like to have visited 100 countries.
Bold? Yes. Unrealistic? Maybe. I can only try.
Fortunately for me, when I say I’m going to do something I genuinely do everything in my power to do it.
To some extent it will depend on my current (and future) travel partners. Being a Mom you have to factor in the down time it takes to procreate. Lee and I plan on having another child or two in the near future which will tie us to one location temporarily.
The good news? I’m already about one quarter the way there. My rough goal as of late has been to visit a new country (or state of the US) every year. I’ll definitely need to ramp that up if I want to even get beyond 40 countries by the time I’m 40. (Damn, that’s a more realistic goal. Why didn’t I think of that earlier!?)
Breaking it down though, it’s not THAT unrealsitc…
If we based ourselves in Europe for a few years we could easily chip away at the 50-odd countries (depending on who you ask) that make up the continent. Despite living in Europe for over two years I’ve only visited eight. That leaves 40-ish European nations yet to be discovered by me. Short travel distances, tiny principalities and budget airlines will definitely help!
My travels have been centered on South East Asia for a while. It’s cheap, warm and has delicious food making it hard to tear oneself way! I haven’t been to the Philippines or Hong Kong and I’d like to at some point. Expanding further into Asia and high on my list are North & South Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan. That makes seven or eight, depending on whether North Korea is achievable.
There are a few “obvious” places I haven’t been yet but, odds on, I’m sure to go – Canada, Cuba, Russia, India, China, Morocco, Fiji, Cook Islands. That makes another eight.
Two of my dream journeys are to ride the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian railway, either train in either direction, and do an epic overland journey through the ‘Stans into Europe. If we tackled this, it would mean at least six new countries. (This is the goal I think is the least acheivable with small kids in tow.)
A two week cruise through the Caribbean could easily knock off five or six new countries. I could absolutely handle that several times over the next few years. Let’s say we do a Caribbean cruise three times – that’s 15 countries.
If I hadn’t got married and had a baby in my late-20s, South America would have been my next epic journey. There are only 12 countries on this continent but the distances are huge. I’d say it’s doable to reach at least ten of them. Mainland Central America and Mexico – that’s another eight.
A sojourn through the Middle East, a few random stopovers and, hey presto… that’s 100 countries!
What do you think? Is it a crazy goal? Is it absurd to even consider this acheivable? Think I’m ridiculous for planning the next ten years of my travel in advance?