There are so many unknowns that surround our lives right now…I’m sure nearly anyone could say the same about his or her own life but this particular moment feels different for us. We’re wondering…will there be a baby in the next year? Will we break the bank trying to have one? Will having one continue to break the bank? (I would think most parents reading this are nodding an emphatic YES to that last one!) Where and how does travel fit in?
For me, travel has always been an escape from reality. When I travel, I can be myself without fear of judgement or criticism (and if they do judge or criticize, who cares? I’ll never see them again!). There’s a freedom in seeing new places, meeting new people, experiencing new things. I also love to do all of the prep work involved in travel…watching episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe, reading guidebooks, scouring Pinterest, listening to podcasts, studying reviews on TripAdvisor, creating spreadsheets, and doing a whole lot of talking to my travel buddies. When I was a kid, I loved going to AAA to get TripTiks…watching the travel agents work their route wizardry was mesmerizing. Whenever we got our maps for Florida or North Carolina (typical Ohioan summer getaways!), I would tell my mom that I wanted to be a travel agent – I too wanted to create the TripTik magic for vacationers. Though that childhood dream didn’t come to fruition, my trip planning does give me a chance to relieve it and pretend to have mastered the highlighter and CONSTRUCTION stamps once or twice a year.
When I met my husband, I wasn’t entirely sure that I could make him into a traveler – or at least not one who would be willing to dip his toes into the old world scene. After a few months of conversations early on in our relationship, I was pretty certain that if I could get him to Ireland, I could get him anywhere. When we were discussing our honeymoon, there were a number of things happening…one, I’m a teacher and we got married in September. No honeymoon immediately following the wedding. Two, Shane was in the process of changing jobs. He was working in construction when we got married and was working toward becoming a federal security officer. The word “federal” indicates a loooooong hiring process. In fact, he started the process in the middle of August 2013. His first day of work wasn’t until February 2014. In the middle of that, construction season ended. We planned on unemployment for the interim, but the federal contracting company that hired Shane listed his start date as December 2013. Unemployment didn’t care that he wasn’t actually working and our claim (and appeal) was rejected. To say that money was tight is an understatement. Difficult to plan a honeymoon with no money! And third, we were just indecisive! We talked through so many different locations…but I secretly couldn’t get the British Isles out of my mind. (If you follow #TheBrennens, you know who ultimately won out!) We were working at a spaghetti dinner and were casually discussing travel plans with some of my coworkers and I threw out the idea of Ireland/England for a honeymoon…the coworker had the reaction that I was hoping my new husband would have: immediate, childlike excitement. Shane, on the other hand, was pretty quiet…but I could tell that I had planted the seed. Thankfully, the seed grew into the wanderlust that we share.
It’s been a year and a half since our last overseas adventure and six months since our last trip, so we’re itching to get wandering again. (Wandering is a bit of a misnomer…it implies a lack of direction. There is always direction. See previous paragraphs. 😉 ) We’ve had some pretty expensive health situations over the past few months so our budget won’t allow for overseas travel this year, but we’re hoping to get away for some long weekends and maybe even a week on the beach somewhere. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen: in addition to creating a wanderer, I’ve also created a beach bum. YESSSSS.) In addition, this is our (incomplete) list, in no particular order:
- Montana, possibly with a road trip to get there
- Yellowstone National Park
- All of the National Parks, actually
- New England, specifically Boston and the Maine coast
- Colorado (family)
- California coast (family)
- Portland, OR/Pacific Northwest (family)
- Chicago* (repeat for me, new for Shane)
- NYC* (repeat for me, new for Shane)
- Little House on the Prairie road trip
- Grand Canyon, Las Vegas
- Alaska, with or without a cruise
- Texas (San Antonio, Dallas, Austin)
- The Dakotas
- Australia, maybe New Zealand too
- England* & Scotland
- Budapest, Prague, Vienna
- Kenya/African safari
- Paris* (repeat for me, new for Shane)
- Burgundy, France
- Irish coast*
- Nova Scotia/PEI
- Vancouver, Canada
- Greece* (repeat for me, new for Shane)
- Amsterdam/Denmark* (repeat for me, new for Shane)
The asterisks* designate return visits. Just can’t get enough!
Long story short, I’m not entirely sure where we’re headed next. Certainly somewhere domestic, drivable, and dirt-cheap. I hear Pinterest calling…