When I acquired the vintage print you see above,
my husband cheered, "Wow, look at all the places we've visited!"
My first thought was,
"Wow, look at all the places we haven't seen."
Deep breath. Time out.
Repeat after me:
YOU ARE GOING TO SEE MORE IF YOU SEE LESS.
Think about that.
We try to cram in as much fun into our travels as possible.
After all, we want to get our "money's worth" -- right?
Too often, that translates into a long list of destinations
we don't appreciate or remember.
I think the better plan is to treat your travels more like a luxurious bath.
Ease into the warm water, feel the sweet relief envelop you, relax into
the spirit of the moment and forget about everything else.
We routinely take showers to do what's needed - wash, rinse, dry, done.
We take baths to relax, rejuvenate and restore our spirits.
That's how travel should be.
You'll keep that vacation feeling longer if you treat yourself
to a leisurely soak instead of a scrub.
I titled my novel and blog "The Paris Effect" because so
many of the treasures of France can be found in Paris.
But Paris is just the beginning.
We globe-trot to experience other cultures -- beauty, history,
the indulgence of a unique cuisine - and that's just for starters.
Navigating the planet changes our world view.
As we delight in new destinations, we re-invent ourselves,
confident we'll get our mojo back --- hopefully, along with our luggage.
It's like home repair for your head and heart -- but instead of stopping in
at Home Depot for your tools, you check into a new city, village,
nature retreat, mountaintop or beach, depending on your need.
When you re-model or update your home, you gain a number of benefits from
the blood, sweat and tears (not to mention the cash) you put into it.
Agreed, it's no bed of roses as you begin the process -- but somewhere
along the way, you'll gain a real sense of accomplishment as you
realize your enterprise is well on its way to fruition.
Satisfaction, relief, pride, fulfillment.
Consider this, doesn't it take a lot of aggravation and
a bit of despair along the way to complete the project?
Is travel any different?
When you feel like something more -- and who doesn't ---
travel can bring excitement and energy into your life.
Here in Middle Tennessee, I live right on top of a Civil War battlefield.
From time to time, I wonder about the men who fought and died in my backyard.
Visiting numerous sites in and around Nashville related to that awful war,
I often wonder if I see it with the same eyes as someone who has
traveled far and wide to witness the same time and place.
There's something about traveling far away -- making the effort --
that stirs our senses to the wonders of our surroundings.
Right or wrong, it's true -- when we see and experience
another country or a new city, our senses come alive.
We are more likely to appreciate the new perspective.
If you habitually lie on the same beach year after year,
why not take up bird-watching or hiking in the mountains?
Maybe a week-long cooking course is something you've long dreamed of
--- or at the very least, look for a different beach.... and an unfamiliar view.
It's easy to get comfortable in your favorite city.
Sometimes I have to force myself to book an apartment in
a new neighborhood -- but I do it anyway.
And it's paid off, I can definitely tell you.
How can you know Paris if you've only stayed in one or two arrondissements? Changing gears makes the ride so much better.
Yes, you can be sure we return to favorite restaurants, familiar
neighborhoods and museums --- but we're much more likely to discover
a whole new world when we change from one neighborhood to another.
When in Paris, I've stayed in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 14th,
and 17th arrondissements at various times in my life.
I can't wait to discover my next new "home", hopefully
finding the courage to hang my hat in the 11th or 12th.
It's not exactly like cliff diving or bungee jumping but in
a small way, it qualifies as adventure travel.
Keeping it fresh.
But in the real world, that's not possible.
Time, money, family responsibilities and a million trivialities
contribute to messing up the best laid plans -- but not the dream.
That's why I focus so much energy on my favorite country.
I don't exclusively travel to France -- but I have a deep
commitment to a long-term relationship with her.
Part of that commitment includes planning where to go next.
Paris is usually where I begin or end my trip.
It's a basic plan that works out well every single time.
Never a dull moment in the capitol -- but my inquisitive nature
propels me to carefully choose other destinations
in my favorite land -- new towns, new faces, new everything.
It's in the planning where I remind myself of my own advice --
YOU'LL SEE MORE IF YOU SEE LESS -- and strategize accordingly.
Don't project a wish list that includes half a dozen cities and call that an itinerary. Pare it down so you can enjoy what you see.
Travel isn't a spreadsheet.
If your neighbor saw six countries in seven days, have pity.
Better to prune down the plan and take joy in what you see.
Get the most out of each step you take.
That brings me right back to home renovation.
It's the Big Reveal we all look forward to -- that moment
when you know all the work to get there was worthwhile.
The Big Reveal is the approach to each travel moment too, that
thrilling instant that raises the gooseflesh on the back of your neck.
As you get acquainted with a new city, the layers will soon reveal themselves, broadening your travel experience and ultimate satisfaction.
The process brings as many rewards as the accomplishment.
A payback that lasts a lifetime.
And yes, you got your money's worth.
Paris is just the beginning.