Travel used to be unaffordable. Many Americans waited till retirement when they felt they had enough money to explore the world. Believe me, the money you will spend traveling is money well spent. By retirement age most people are not fit enough to climb up and down tour buses, let alone walk to tourist attractions to take pictures. Whenever I join sightseeing tours, I always feel sorry for senior citizens who beg the tour guides to let them remain on the bus on stop-overs requiring a short walk to a certain tourist spot.
Why wait until retirement to explore the world? Why not do it now and enrich your life and the lives of your children? Take two meaningful trips every year. Explore the national parks for at least two weeks in summer and go overseas for at least a week between November and New Year’s Day. Most companies offer a 2-week paid vacation each year, and many companies offer 3 weeks after a certain period of employment. Most companies in Western Europe offer at least one month vacation every year. Travel is easier than you think. Nowadays, you do not need a travel agent. You yourself, on your own, can book your flights, car rentals and hotels online through the following websites, Travelocity, Orbitz, PriceLine, Kayak, Expedia, TravelAdvisor.com, Hotel.com, and Bookings.com. For local sightseeing tours, I like Grayline and Viator. You can snag some “real bargains” from the above-mentioned websites such as: $125 a night at Elbow Beach Hotel in Bermuda in the month of May and accommodations at four star hotels for about $100 per night during the low season in Rome, Paris, London, Munich, Amsterdam and Geneva. Because I have been following my own advice, I have visited most of America’s 58 National Parks. My favorites are Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyons, Yellowstone, Sequoia and Volcanoes National Park. I love driving so I do not mind driving thousands of miles while enjoying the scenery on the way to a certain destination. Some of the most scenic routes I’ve driven on in America are from Hilo to Kona in the big island of Hawaii; Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz; Highway 5 Sacramento to Vancouver, Canada; Highway 70 Denver to Provo; Highway 191 Crescent Junction to Bluff; Highway 89A from Lake Powell to Kanab; Lolo Pass Road from Mt. Hood Highway 26 to Lost Lake, Oregon; Highway 75 from Sault St. Marie to Mackinaw City; Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park; Taconic State Parkway, N.Y. State; Highway 81 from Scranton to Syracuse. Whenever time permits, I find a way to rent a car to take in the scenery and explore the countryside even in foreign countries. The most memorable road trips I’ve taken were from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara; London to Bristol; Chamonix to Pisa; Salzburg to Venice; Torino to Rome and Berlin to Luxembourg. I estimate that I have spent over $200,000 in travel expenses in the past 20 years. For me, this is money well spent. Travel has been good for my family and me, for our health and well-being. My children had travelled to several foreign destinations before entering high school. The priceless experiences opened their eyes on how other people outside America live, on what side of the road they drive, the languages they speak, the food they eat, and most importantly, how lucky and privileged they are to be living in America. I was born with wanderlust. As soon as I complete one journey, I am planning and looking forward to the next one. That is why I just don’t understand people who have not caught this “disease”. I have a friend who can well afford to travel but who says he does not want to go to Hawaii because “it’s too far”. There are those who fly to exotic places then sit by the pool reading a book and sipping margaritas…all day long. I have a friend who goes to Cape Cod in the summer and flies to Las Vegas in November…year after year.
Whenever I travel to a new place, I like exploring the food, talking to locals even in sign language and going to the market places where locals go. I can only hope that the reader will catch wanderlust and find themselves booking trips to wonderful destinations such as Bhutan; Maldives; Goa, India; Machu Picchu, Peru; Kathmandu, Nepal; Durban, South Africa; Alice Springs, Australia; Petra, Jordan; Masada National Park, Israel; Chamonix, France; Interlaken, Switzerland; Naples, Italy. Before you leave this world, don’t you want to see the land of the midnight sun, the Alps, Pompeii, Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal and a phenomenon called Aurora Borealis? Think of the money you will spend as a small investment for your mind and spirit. Many years from now if you end up in a nursing home and cannot walk anymore, you might still remember those amazing trips that you took in your youth and tell stories of your wonderful experiences to anyone who would be kind enough to listen.