You would not be reading Europe Up Close if “travel a lot” were not one of your life’s great pleasures. I’d like to suggest that you abandon procrastination before you use up your allotted travel days. Murphy’s Law can strike at any moment and the chance to travel might be gone. Older people inevitably start collecting minor disabilities and issues: heart, hip, knee, back, fill-in-the-blank. Younger travelers also have accidents or suddenly fall ill or become buried in work or family responsibilities. So if you really love to travel, don’t put off that trip for another day: Travel Now. At some point there might not be “another day.”
For instance, we went on a tour to Egypt with friends in 2010 and took off on our own for Syria afterwards; we ate ice cream in Damascus, bought carpets in Aleppo, and traipsed all over Petra and Palmyra. Carpe Diem. I am so glad we experienced that wonderful country before Syrian travel became impossible.
I was all set to visit the cousins in Alabama over Mardi Gras last year, but my pre-replacement hip made walking too painful, so I canceled. I should have gone the year before, as planned. Don’t keep collecting “should have” trips. Carpe Diem and travel now, while you are able.
Money can be a showstopper for that ‘bucket list’ trip. Three strategies can help make the difference between a memory and a regret.
- Book airline tickets that can be canceled or changed. You won’t get a full refund, but it should be enough to give you peace of mind for the ‘just in case’ scenario (fall in a hole and break your ankle/family emergency/bike accident/etc.)
- Buy travel insurance but research carefully first. Most likely you will not use the coverage, but if the investment gives you the courage to actually book that trip, it’s a small price to pay.
- Consider your style of travel and think about ways to lower the cost. If you have your heart set on a high-end luxury tour and can’t afford it, you might decide not to go at all. But if frugal travel is the difference between going or not going, then choose cheaper housing options and strategize ways to save money. My mom’s take on hotels was, “Why spend money with your eyes closed?” I have come to agree.
Risk and Politics
Yes, we live in a dangerous world and terrorists can and do attack randomly. A traveler does not need to go to Syria to be at risk; California or Paris will do. Please do not let fear stop you from traveling. It is far more dangerous to drive to the airport than to actually travel…Travel Now
Trips in Egypt and Turkey after a terrorist incident made me realize that tourists can be actually safer after an incident. This may sound a bit creepy but security forces are on high alert and procedures have been tightened. The crowds are considerably less and vendors extra friendly and grateful for your business. Remember that the tourist industry in poorer countries depends on visitors, and a terrorist incident can have a catastrophic effect on business.
And by the way, if you are inclined to want to visit the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), I would go sooner rather than later. Given Putin’s saber rattling and his expansion of control over the ethnic Russians living there, we might see another Crimea or Ukraine situation, making tourism difficult.
Life Is Short: Travel Now!
When I think about actually taking a trip, I think of my Aussie friend Jo. Her knees are shot, so her traveling days are finished. “I’m just glad I traveled as much as I did when I was younger,” she says wistfully. I have taken her words to heart and followed my own advice. I just booked a flight to Australia for February (cancellable and with travel insurance) to sit on the summer beach in Oz instead of staying home in a drippy Oregon winter. Carpe Diem: Travel Now!
Written by Guest Contributor Kathy Fritts for EuropeUpClose.com Kathy Fritts is a retired school librarian who has lived and worked in six different countries. Now she travels for fun and writes to educate and encourage readers to take a chance and enrich their lives by traveling.