Expecting the unexpected

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that when you travel things will go wrong. The plans are usually complex and multilevel, but then a plane is delayed, a bag is lost, or the hotel turns out to be entirely different than you expected. No matter how much you plan ahead, something can go awry… and it’s an ability to cope with that fact without getting too upset that makes a person a good traveller.

Am I a good traveller then? Maybe not yet, but it’s my number one goal to learn how to be. Right now I get caught up in the details and I want everything to go the way I intend, so I’m trying to teach myself that key ability to take a step back, take a deep breath and remind myself that one little thing is bad and the trip as a whole isn’t ruined.

Next month I’ll be traveling while still recovering from the throes of mono… So I won’t be on top of my game. I’m not happy about the illness, but I’m looking forward to the chance to be flexible about how I define something as an enjoyable trip. I’ll be completely exhausted at the end of each day and might need to nap while my classmates go out at night, but I’ll be learning patience and really appreciating the bear-bones best parts of the trip instead of the extras.

I believe that being less easily shaken up is the key to best enjoying the overall trip. Overall enjoyment is what it’s really all about because when you look back down the road it will be the trip as a whole that you remember.

Down the road I hope to take simple travel to the next level by joining the peace corps and spending 2 years living abroad in a less developed country… away from many of the creature comforts I’m used to and utterly reliant on that ability to take enjoyment in the overall experience instead of the details. Therefore, now is the time for me to learn my travel flexibility! 

So there will be delays and taxi drivers who don’t actually know where you’re going or speak a word of English, but stick with me and the trip can still be saved!




I recently suggested making an attempt to see the Aurora Borealis to a handful of my friends. To me it just sounded like a good adventure and something within our capabilities, living in the northernmost part of the United States. However, the reaction of one of my friends made me pause: “That’s on my bucket list!”

It’s not like I had never heard of a bucket list before. It simply hadn’t occurred to me to make one myself. That seemed like something that older people did when they started to worry that they wouldn’t fit everything into their lives. But my friend had a bucket list…. so why shouldn’t I start one. There are lots of things I want to do and a bucket list might just be a wise organizational decision!

1. See the Aurora Borealis.

I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve already ticked off a number of typical bucket list options- climbing the Great Wall of China, eating pizza in Italy, and visiting a volcano- So I decided that I had to get a bit creative. The creativity will make for a more interesting life as I pursue these anyway. Here’s a sampling of some of my new goals:

2. Stand on the edge of “the door to hell” in Derweze, Turkmenistan Unknown

3. Try all 10 of the “must-try exotic fruits”

4. Ride an elephant

5. Visit the mask of sorrow in Magadan, Russia

6. Visit the Fairy pools in Skye, Scotlandimages-1


Have you heard of all of those? Am I inspiring you to go look something up? Many of those were new to me before I started surfing the internet for my idea search.

But of course, I couldn’t resist a few of the more stereotypical bucket list items as well:

7. Hike the Inca trail to Machu PichuUnknown-1

8. Visit the Egyptian Pyramids

9. Visit the Grand Canyon

10. Have my picture taken at platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station

I think if I accomplish any of these I’ll live a pretty exceptional life. What’s on your bucket list?!


I leave for my semester abroad in France exactly one month from today. I’ve never had bad homesickness or hesitation about taking off far away from everybody I know and even leaving behind a lot of technology… but this time I’ve really gotten thinking about the goodbye process. Sure, it’s not forever… but it is daunting. I’ve never left the country for more than a month before. I’ve never been away from my hometown for more than three months straight. And I’ve never traveled without at least one blood relative by my side.

So, this time goodbye feels like a much more solemn event. I’ll be leaving my university in a week and a half and won’t see these beautiful faces for about 8 months. Some of them will have graduated by the time I return. Will others simply forget about me after such a long span of time? It’s a sobering consideration.

Let’s assume that they all care dearly about me and will eagerly await my return. I have to wonder if I’m making a mistake by not putting aside more time to see them now, but I rather want to do well on my finals. Looming goodbyes seem to have a dangerous affect of making it more difficult than ever to balance academics and a social life. That’s a side-affect that I hadn’t considered previously.

Then there’s my family and best friend. I’ll have two weeks with them… and I’ll spend lots of that time preparing for France. But will the goodbye even feel real when I intend on using Skype to contact them on a regular basis? It seems odd that this is the goodbye that I’m least worried about. Perhaps because those who are closest to us will fight tooth and nail to stay in contact. So if they really matter, goodbye is less scary? I’ll have to keep that reassuring thought in the back of my mind throughout December!

And yet.. the daunting task of goodbyes still can’t temper the excitement simmering beneath the surface at all times. Goodbyes are hard… but when they lead to something amazing I think it’s a pretty good trade-off. I felt the same when I left my hometown to start college. It was hard to release those “final” hugs… but then I got on campus and it was completely worth the pain of leaving them all behind for a little while.