One of my favorite pictures from my Paris trip, 2005
Due to a lack of planning on my part, I am going to be my own guest post-er for this week. Check out my blog here (ha ha).
As I was contemplating whether to cancel the Mid-Week Boost for this week or just post myself, I kept thinking about what on earth I was passionate about. Let me clarify: it was probably harder for me to identify something that I was NOT passionate about than it was for me to think of something I WAS. In other words, I have way too many interests.
One of my passions is magazines (unfortunately), and something I came across just last month in the Oprah magazine was an article about finding your passion in life (or something to that effect). There was a little mini handbook that you could fill out to help yourself discover just what it was that could become your new passion. Some of the questions that it asked were, "What did you like to do most as a child?", "What are talents or qualities that you have that people often compliment you on?" or other questions to that effect. After thinking about my own answers to those questions, I came up with three things I should be passionate about: dancing, gardening, and playing Cinderella.
Unfortunately, I haven't done much of any of those lately, unless you count all the cleaning I've had to do thanks to the roach spray.
So I started to think of my own questions this morning while getting ready for the day:
What gets me excited?
What do I always wish I had more time or money for?
What do I associate with some of my most positive experiences?
And then suddenly: The Answer:
My answer surprised yet didn't surprise me. It surprised me because I feel like it's been quite awhile since I've actually gone much of anywhere. It didn't surprise me because traveling is the perfect hobby to accommodate two other passions of mine: trying out new things and taking pictures. I started to look for evidences that supported this as one of my passions in life, and I didn't have to look far: strewn all over our thrifted coffee tables are recent issues of Budget Traveler and National Geographic Traveler. I thought of how I've begged Matt in the past 48 hours to consider the idea of us going on THREE different vacations next year (we'd originally just planned for one, but recent opportunities have made me dream bigger).
Me at the Matterhorn in Switzerland with fellow classmates, 2005
This is why traveling is one of my big passions in life:
1 - I love experiencing new things. I wonder if I had a touch of ADD as a child, because I was always drawn to the idea of NOVELTY. If something is new to me, I'm all over it. What can I say? That's why I invented the Change It Up Challenge.
2 - I love experiencing different cultures and everything that goes along with that: different languages, different social customs, different ways of celebrating holidays, and of course, different food!
3 - I love how traveling always makes me appreciate home more. Even after the most fabulous vacation, there truly is nothing to compare with that feeling of coming back home.
4 - I love how traveling gives me time to meditate on the things that matter most to me and that it gives me new insights into myself and into the world around me.
5 - I love how the experiences and memories I gain while traveling are always with me. There is nothing that can compare to a happy memory--there is no price that can be put on that.
Despite my love of traveling, I am obviously limited by the fact that Matt and I are both students and that we both are working just part-time while going to school. Nevertheless, here are my best tips for being able to plan out a fabulous (and affordable!) vacation:
1 - If you have two incomes coming into your home, just live off of one person's income. With Matt and I, we pay all of our bills and all other necessities from mine and bank pretty much all of Matt's. It is only because of this that we can even feasibly think of going on 3 vacations next year (or even one).
2 - If you have a particular place in mind and a rough time frame, there are several travel sites that will email you every time a plane ticket or hotel dips below a certain price. Just name your price, and see the miracles happen!
3 - Dream. If there's someplace you'd really love to go, dream about it---but then turn that dream into a working plan. Start figuring out how much money it would take to go there, and make a doable plan.
4 - When you're preparing to actually leave on a vacation, don't set your expectations too high. This sounds counterintuitive, but I've found it's best not to set unrealistic expectations. Most of life's disappointments (if not all) come from expectations not being met. Therefore, if you just go into traveling with the idea of having a different experience, then you're probably much more likely to enjoy yourself.
5 - Don't forget to plan down time while traveling. While it can be tempting to just dash like mad from one location to another, vacations are for relaxation and enjoying the company of loved ones (or your own company, if you go it alone). Schedule some down time at night to check out your hotel's hot tub, or make some time in the middle of the day to take a short nap.
6 - If you can't afford a big vacation, plan a mini vacation to a nearby location. Most of the funnest vacations that I've taken have been to more local places, such as Moab or Park City. Check out what tourist locations are near you (even if they're in your same town!) and make plans to go visit.
7 - Remember this philosophy of mine: money spent on traveling is always worth it, because memories go on forever. Sure you could invest that money into new furniture or a nice entertainment center, but time spent together with the people you love truly is priceless.
Taken during my trip to Moab with friends in 2008 (we each spent only $50!)