Happy New Year! (I can say that because it’s still the first half of January.)
I, for one, am extremely happy to greet a new year. New years give us the opportunity to refresh and reevaluate; for example: my bucket list. Years ago I made a list called “100 Things to Do before I Die.” But I change so much year-to-year that I no longer care about a fourth of the list.
And like that list, my travel wishes change year to year as I learn more and more about the world! This blog post will share with you my top 5 travel wishes for 2018! I’d love to hear all about yours in the comments :)
#1 Offset All my Travels
Offset all my travel’s carbon emissions to be more precise. I talk a good talk about carbon offsets, but half the time (since I’m not in the habit of doing it), it slips my mind to purchase a carbon offset! Purchasing carbon offsets is ridiculously easy and affordable--there’s essentially no excuse not to.
I also want to make it easier for you, my clients, to offset your carbon emissions. In my trip follow-up emails this year, I plan on letting you know the price of carbon offsets and giving you two purchase options. It’s literally the easiest (and possibly most impactful) thing we can to do to make our travels more sustainable.
#2 Visit Alaska
I got my Alaska specialist designation at the very end of 2017 (woo!), and all that studying really reinforced my desire to visit. Even though a cruise is the most convenient (and certainly one of the most beautiful) ways to visit Alaska, I want to have a more independent experience.
I don’t have a plan as of right now; I’m just putting my intention out there. But I am pretty sure that if I’m able to travel to Alaska this year my must-do experiences will include the Alaska Marine Highway System, a train trip, and visiting at least two national parks. (Alaska has 8 national parks, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to do!) I also can’t decide between traveling during the summer or winter. Winter means northern lights—which are on my bucket list and there to stay!—but summer means some really awesome long, sunny days. Decisions, decisions…
#3 Visit Friends More
2017 was actually a banner year for visiting friends! My husband and I visited Pittsburgh for the first time to see his sister and brother-in-law. We saw some of my college friends we hadn’t visited in years. I traveled to China with one of my oldest friends. And we visited friends who live in Asheville not once, but twice(!) after having never visited them before. (And to make the first trip even more special, we spontaneously extended our trip an extra day and had a blast!)
As a travel agent, I tend to think of travel as a means to expand horizons and fulfill dreams, so I often forget about how special and important visiting friends and relatives can actually be. (Of course, as a travel agent I feel compelled to explore the areas where my friends live, so I end up expanding my horizons anyway! That’s how my husband and I visited Savannah for the first time this year: we were driving from Florida to Asheville and made a quick little lunch stop.)
#4 Educate More People about Sustainable Travel
Over the past few years, I’ve been giving presentations about sustainable travel to any group that will have me. Honestly, the presentations are not met with great interest, and I don’t seem to have to best luck engaging the audiences. (But shout out to Louisville Green Drinks for being the most engaged group I talked to!)
I have some other ideas floating around in the back of my head: a bridal show with all sustainable vendors, events in conjunction with other sustainable businesses/restaurants, more Facebook Live. But honestly there are probably better, easier ways to get the message out there. If you have suggestions I would love to hear them! (By the way, I’m still happy to give presentations—I’ll work on making them more interesting ;) .)
#5 Get You to Travel
A lot of people think I became a travel agent to travel a lot, but I actually didn’t get into the tourism industry for that reason. I’ve probably told this story before, but my decision came about after questioning what to do with my life. (I was unhappy, battling depression that I didn’t know was depression.) I stumbled upon an exercise that told me to pretend I was an eighty-year-old me telling present-day me what to do. The idea that popped into my head was to plan a trip to visit my friend who was living in North Carolina at the time.
Not to actually visit her—to plan the visit.
Not soon after my in-laws decided to visit Colorado, and I helped put together some really detailed itineraries. And that’s when I knew I should be a travel agent: I love the planning and I love the helping.
The longer I’ve been a travel agent the more I’ve come to value another aspect of it. We are getting more and more connected online; we need to connect just as much offline. If you notice, when there’s a terrorist attack in a European city, the social media of the United States bursts over with condolences and solidarity. When a similar thing happens in the Arab world or Africa or Asia, there is far less support.
I don’t think it’s just because of racism, honestly; I think the difference in reaction is because of connections. Americans as a whole have traveled to Europe more than they’ve traveled to the Middle East, Africa, or Asia. Travel is the catalyst that creates those deep, meaningful connections. When I went on my cruise with Fathom in July 2016, I was surprised to find myself thinking, “Goodbye, family,” when we were pulling out of the dock at Puerto Plata and sailing home. I probably spent less than twenty-four hours in the company of the Dominican people, but it connected me with that country forever.
A similar thing happened on my trip to China. Before I won my scholarship, I had zero desire to visit China. (I mentioned my bucket list up above? China was not on there.)
But now I feel incredibly connected to China.
The main reason I don’t know if I’ll get to go to Alaska this year is because I also want to go back to China. I started learning Chinese on Duolingo. I asked for chopsticks for Christmas. The impact my trip to China has had on me is immeasurable, but I do know that China is eternally linked with me.
Therefore my biggest wish this year is that you will travel.
It doesn’t have to be to a new country, state, or city. All I want is for the world to form deeper, more resilient connections. Whether you contribute to that by going somewhere you never thought you’d visit in your lifetime or by visiting old friends again, you will form more connections.
And the world will be a far better place because of it.
So, I say, with complete sincerity, get out there and go!