I am prone to making lists. I love making plans. Dreaming up trips, whether I take them or doesn’t, drives me to work hard, so that I can play hard. Creating a list of all my dream destinations for the year is my version of setting New Year’s resolutions. Plotting out my vacation days and penciling in trips that might fit those designated slots brings me pure joy. Setting 2020 travel goals and writing them down on a sticky note affixed to my computer motivates me.
2019, a year in review
For a variety of reasons, I didn’t make a destination list in 2019. I didn’t set any travel goals. Even if I had set goals, 2019 did not unfold with any predictablity. Between my partner and I, there were three new jobs. That translates to three vacation day resets. In addition, a pending green card application placed international travel on hold at the beginning of the year and a passport renewal that has stretched into months did the same later in the year. Then, there was a grueling amount of work travel. Throw in a nearly 1,100 mile move from Miami to Washington, DC and it’s easy to see how life got in the way of travel.
This proved disastrous for my travel blog. In 2019, I published one lone post – about a trip I took in 2018. If I am being honest though, blogging about travel lost its luster since I moved stateside. I had gone from being an expat and viewing myself and travel as unique (and thus worthy of commentary) to feeling utterly normal and without a perspective worth sharing. The transition from being an expat to returning to my home country was harder and has taken longer than I ever imagined. My expat identity disappeared on a transatlantic flight from Johannesburg to Miami and that loss has been unmooring.
The other major change was the transition from primarily solo travel to traveling with my partner. Trips became less about documenting the experience and more about living in it together.
That being said, if I look back on 2019 there were some memorable trips and ones I wish I had written about. I rang in 2019 on safari at Londolozi. There was a girl’s weekend in New Orleans. Callum and I lost our voices cheering for the Blitzbok in Las Vegas at the Rugby Sevens. My nearest and dearest surprised me for my 40th birthday at a beach resort in the Florida Keys. We took in sunrises and sunsets from Florida beaches in Naples, St. Augustine, and South Beach. Callum and I marked our one year wedding anniversary in a bird hide photographing puffins off the coast of Maine. We also spent a memorable afternoon in the Everglades gliding in kayaks past alligators and tropical flora. There was a second weekend in New Orleans with family visiting from South Africa.
It may have not been the most memorable travel year, but instead of dwelling on the fact we had to cancel our honeymoon to Anguilla or bemoaning that I did not take an international vacation in 2019 (work trips to Canada and a trip to South Africa that started in 2018 and ended in 2019 don’t count), reviewing these trips allowed me the space to be grateful for the long weekends I did take. Taking the time to reflect, also reminded me of the importance of being intentional about my travels.
Six 2020 Travel Goals
It’s a new year and a time to be more intentional about how we spend our days. The point of setting goals is to help us prioritize and give direction to our activities. I hope that by setting travel goals for 2020, I will be able to reconnect to an activity that I find invigorating. Below are six 2020 travel goals, intended to do just that.
- Escape to nature every chance I get. I miss the solace found in remoteness, the sound of a crackling fire, and the sensation of being untethered from my phone. In 2020, I plan to balance city travel with trips to visit trees.
- Explore locally. Not all trips involve a plane. Despite living in Washington, DC for nearly nine years before moving to South Africa, I haven’t ventured too far outside of the immediate city environs. There is much to see and do. Added bonus, there is a lot of nature in the area.
- Take a solo trip. In South Africa I travelled solo out of necessity. If I hadn’t, I would never have explored as much of Southern Africa as I did. While I prefer to travel with a companion, I have come to relish the freedom of traveling alone.
- Plan less. I have a friend who has been known to decide to travel to another country on Thursday and depart on Friday. Embracing spontaneity is not easy for this planner.
- Go somewhere new. All of my trips in 2019 where to locales I had been to before. While there is a lot to be said about returning to certain places, what I love about travel is how the newness, the differentness stimulates and challenges us to see world differently.
- Dedicate time to Sharing a Table. Writing and taking photographs is my primary creative outlet, but over the last two years I haven’t dedicated the space to it. It is time to recommit and rediscover my travel voice. This may or may not be a recycled goal from 2018.
What are your 2020 travel goals? Where corner of the world or your backyard are you planning to explore? Whether your 2020 travel goals include more staycations or once-in-a-lifetime destinations, may the journey bring you joy.