The most frequent question I get as a perpetual traveler is, “Where to next?”
The truth is, I’ll never get to a point in my life when I don’t have an answer. This world is unconquerable. No matter how much we travel or how many countries we tick off the list, we’ll never see everything there is to see. It’s really wonderful and awesome to think about. No one can achieve the feat of having been everywhere. No one! Whoa!
I’m in the midst of realizing that Jacksonville, the town where I was born and raised, has so much more to see and do than I ever knew, and that’s lead me to ponder the sheer vastness of the planet. If there are parts of my hometown yet unknown to me, how impossible is it to see everything this earth has to offer?
Philosophical ramblings aside, the point is, just because I’ve checked off quite a few of my biggest bucket list wishes (the pyramids in Egypt, cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa, hiking the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand), many more remain. It’ll always be a never-ending list. But here are my current top 5!
I realize you’ll probably heap shame upon me for confessing this, but despite once serving as part of the Canadian Tourism Commission US PR team and having about 10,000 Canadian friends, I never had the opportunity to visit. Isn’t that ridiculous? Part of the reason I never buck up and go now that I’m a free agent is because I don’t feel like I have proper attire, but that’s silly. There’s much more to Canada than snow, and I know that because I wrote it in press releases a million times. Another reason I haven’t visited is proximity. I reason that Canada is so close, I can go there any old time. So why not this year?
From what I recall, there are more than enough creature features to keep me entertained in Canada — polar bears in Churchill, swimming with Beluga whales, grizzly spotting. And of course I’ll want to visit all the big cities – Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver. Oh! And the Northern Lights! And Niagara Falls! How could I forget those?! And I absolutely must join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club, so that’ll mean a trip to the Yukon. (Errr, maybe.)
My dream would be to explore the country on a luxe VIA Rail train from coast-to-coast, taking in every province and absorbing as much friendly Canadian-ness as possible. Canada deserves its own bucket list, that’s all there is to it. (And now that ‘Merica is stuck with Justin Bieber post-Sochi, there’s no better time to visit.)
You always want what you can’t have, right? I’m obsessed with the Caribbean as it is, so it stands to reason that Cuba will fit nicely into my white sand beach and turquoise water addiction. Once you add in the colonial heritage, the photogenic 50s cars, those hot Havana nights and the added layer of traveling to a semi-forbidden destination, it’s all-but-guaranteed I’m going to love Cuba.
Plus, it’s so close to my current home base in Florida, I could chuck a fedora and a bikini in a carry-on and be there in a few hours. (Once on a work trip in The Bahamas, I almost convinced my charter pilot to pop over to Cuba for the day… but I figured getting fired and possibly arrested outweighed the benefits of a one-day visit. Someday!)
Antarctica is the only continent I haven’t visited, and for good reason. A trip to the South Pole and its surrounding icy frontier isn’t something you just decide to do on a whim, and lately that’s how I’ve been planning the majority of my trips. Reading fellow travelers’ posts on their polar expeditions and perusing pictures of penguins and icebergs and whales, I know in my heart, I just have to make it there someday.
As the coldest, driest and windiest continent, I can only imagine how beautifully different my photos would be from such a southern jaunt. I’m a beach-loving, history buff in the majority of my travels, so I relish the chance to do the polar (haha, get it?) opposite of that. Sure it’ll be cold and I might get seasick, but what’s life without a little adventure? Take me to Antarctica, please!
BORA BORA. No, THE MALDIVES. Ok, BOTH!
The key to this tropical visit: overwater bungalows. Who wouldn’t be seduced by photos of well-appointed huts on stilts over crystal clear water? I really love the ones with glass-bottom floors and wrap-around windows and hammocks stretched out over the water. I don’t ask for much in life, right?
Either Bora Bora in Tahiti or the Maldives, off the coast of India, would suit me just fine. Scuba diving in the morning and stand-up paddleboarding in the afternoon, followed by a massage and a sunset dinner on the beach sound like a vacation that would be pretty hard to mess up.
Note: I’m purposely saving this particular experience for my honeymoon. Any takers?
I’ve flown over the Amazon on mission trips to Bolivia, but I’ve never had the chance to get down there and explore for myself. It’s mysterious and known to be a little dangerous, so of course, I want to go there ASAP. There’s something unfortunately very satisfying about having to explain to my mother that I probably won’t be eaten by an enormous jungle cat, swallowed by a world-record-sized python or poisoned by a colorful, innocuous-looking frog.
There’s more to the Amazon than creatures of course, and I want to experience every last bit of it. Perhaps by cruising on the ARIA?
I want to meet everyone who lives along the river and talk story with them. (Maybe they can teach me to fish like that crazy guy on River Monsters!) All I know is I’ve been reading about the Amazon since I was a kid, and someday I need to go there and see it for myself.
Limiting this story to just 5 destinations was really, really tough. As I’m wrapping up, I can’t help but think about whitewater rafting in the Grand Canyon, scuba diving in the Galapagos, exploring the cloud forest in Ecuador, hiking to Macchu Picchu. I guess that just proves my point.