Well, the sun is setting on 2018, and I haven’t written a blog post in about 8 months. Strike one for my 2018 travel intentions…
In an effort to restart the blogging in 2019, here’s how I measured up to my expectations for myself in the year that was 2018. Looks like I’ve got some work to do!
- Take advantage of at least five new cultural/historical experiences right here at home. Thinking about starting with the Somali Museum of Minnesota, the Mill City Museum (which I still can’t believe I’ve never been to!), and the top of the Foshay Tower.
I did visit the Minneapolis branch of the Federal Reserve, and take advantage of a few new cultural opportunities, like the Germanic-American Institute. Overall, of the things I listed, I did zero, but added a few new things I hadn’t thought of. Verdict: draw?
2. Make concrete plans to get to South America. Find a travel partner for Machu Picchu, find a company for my Trail trek, and start saving! Doing responsible, adult things means less disposable income, but this particular site seems time-sensitive, as travel on the Inca Trail is being limited by the Peruvian government.
Well, Machu Picchu remains a pipe dream for 2019–too many unexpected expenses and challenges for travel partners to make it happen. Still on the list, but still not happening in the near future. Verdict: loss, but hope for 2020 and beyond?
3. Be more open to new people when I travel. It’ll take work to make this happen, especially when I eat, as I often eat alone, but this also applies generally. I usually have my RBF on in full-force when I’m in situations that could turn precarious, but especially as the image of Americans around the world is changing, I will try to smile more often, and experience things that will find me in communion with other travelers I can learn from.
Still working on this particular intention. It’s so much easier to do in the US, and I have worked on it when I travel, trying hard to eat out by myself, and sit at bars when I do, but I will continue to work on being open to new people and experiences, while also being safe as a solo female traveler. #travelingwhilefemale is real, and hard. Verdict: draw
4. Be more open to spending money when I travel. I’ve been really conscious about spending money on experiences, rather than souvenirs, but I’m also still a product of my mother (who I’m convinced actually grew up during the Depression). I think I often miss out on cultural touchstones in an effort to be frugal. That €4 to sit and sip espresso at a cafe in Roma that I can never justify, the Czech Pilsner at dinner overlooking the Charles Bridge that I hesitate in ordering, the three or four meals it takes trying to find the best schnitzel in Vienna. None of those are necessary, but everyone needs to eat, and all of those choices enhance experiences. I need to remember that. And dang it, when you want an Aperol spritz in Piazza del Popolo with people you haven’t seen in years, spend the €11!
My time in Berlin this summer was short, but I do think I was more comfortable with spending for experiences AND things I knew I would value and use. A €15 drink at a rooftop bar in Berlin isn’t at all necessary, but it produced a great view and a great experience with great new friends. My Birks are authentically German, and allow me to have souvenirs that are also useful on a daily basis, which usually produces good and valuable purchases. Verdict: win (at least in Germany)!
5. Plan my 2018 to include at least one road trip and at least three new cities.
I made my first-ever trip to the Lone Star State in 2018, stopping in Dallas for a long weekend. I also went down to Red Wing, which I hadn’t done before, and had a mini road trip through southwestern Wisconsin, stopping in Mount Horeb, which happens to be the Troll Capital of the World, the New Glarus Brewery, and ending the trip visiting wonderful people and my fave boys of summer in Milwaukee. I also took a mini-Civil War road trip through Virginia, stopping at Manassas and Antietam, and spending a week at James Madison’s Montpelier. Finally, I recently had the chance to take my parents to Arizona for a retirement and pre-retirement celebration. Among other things, a nuclear missile silo and the Grand Canyon–quite the odd couple, but a great week! Verdict: major wins on this front!
6. Connect with at least five current and former students about study abroad options at the college of their choice.
I talk about this vaguely with students all the time, but haven’t done it specifically in an effort to work into an existing four year plan. Gotta up my game on that front. Verdict: loss, with lots of room to grow!
7. Write an actual letter once a month to someone I’ve lost touch with, but want to keep in my life.
I’ve worked hard in the tail end of 2018 to write more actual letters, but I think the real victory in 2018 is that I have been more intentional about how I spend my time, energy, and human capital. I’ve worked to prioritize relationships that are reciprocal and provide value to my life. I’ve added a few new wonderful humans to my circle, and let a few go that I probably held onto far too long. Verdict: win-ish
8. Actually write more here too–this blog is largely self-serving, but if I can convince even one person of the importance of travel (or reinforce what they already know!), it’ll be worth it! Once a month might be tricky in the doldrums of early spring, but it’s a pretty minor commitment to make.
Massive fail. The pretty minor commitment I identified this spring turned into a busy summer, and then a normally-packed school year. Verdict: big ol’ fail.
9. Help at least two people who have the desire to travel (but lack the practical planning tools) to take their first trip, domestic or international.
I’ll claim partial responsibility for getting my brother and sister-in-law to New York to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but I think that’s about it. Gotta work on my travel evangelizing in 2019. Verdict: minor victories, but never too many chances for a win!
10. Be the best ambassador I can be for everything I represent. Minnesotans, Americans, teachers, women, sports fans, politically-engaged individuals, travelers, etc. Life today is challenging enough; we should all try to do the best we can to represent ourselves to the world with integrity, virtue, and value.
In a particularly gross year for politics, and you know, humanity in general, on occasion I got sucked into the mess. However, I still think the work that I’ve done trying to be a responsible adult for my students, my friends, and my family has been important and challenging. More to come on this front; continual growth, right? Verdict: will likely always be a draw!
Final results: 4-3-3.Not a playoff-caliber year, but definite room for hope in the coming year. Guess that means I’ll have to step up my game in 2019! One thing I know for sure is that writing my intentions down in real life, rather than just on the internet will help me maintain accountability. A copy at home, a copy at school, reminders on my phone; turns out having it in front of my face is helpful.
Anyway, wishing you and yours a fantastic, travel-filled 2019. Here’s to more curiosity, more kindness, and more destinations with people you love.