CALIFORNIA – Coral writing to tell you all about the only resolution I’ve ever been able to keep, and it must be good because Mio copied me and made it his own! Maybe you’ll like it enough to make it your resolution too, and if so I hope you’ll tell us all about it by this time next year.
The New Year’s Resolution that I always stick to is… visiting a new-to-me country at least once a year. It feels like a big, ambiguous, lofty goal, so let me tell you how I made it my resolution seven years ago.
I was waitressing at a restaurant in San Francisco, right on Pier 39, tourist capital of the city. We had guests visiting us from around the globe more often than from around our state, and they gave me a taste of cultures and languages I had only seen on TV. My coworkers fed my hunger for travel stories unknowingly over our break meals, most had been to at least a handful of other countries if they were American and many of them came from places so far away I just loved to hear about them.
For a few years this was enough for me, listening and soaking up stories second hand. I thought this was as good as it could get for someone like me, broke, waitressing without a financial backup plan or family’s financial support, and from a town so tiny and familiar that I still bump into people who went to elementary school with my mom and ask how she’s doing. People like me were lucky to get out of their small towns at all, I thought, and I had, I had moved to Seattle for a year and then to San Francisco at 21. I didn’t think I could hope for more for myself, so I just wanted to listen.
It was after three years of just listening that a spark was ignited inside me. It suddenly became very personal, the need to not just listen but experience something firsthand. In 2012 there were reports that Amsterdam would be closing their cannabis cafes from the public, allowing only locals to purchase and consume in the shops. Thirty plus years of stoner goals for a generation coming to an end, something that people my own age had experienced and yet I might now have to go the rest of my life not trying for myself? Nope! I couldn’t stand the thought of it! When the news about the changes broke I knew I had to get to Amsterdam, fast. The changes were expected to be enforced beginning January 1st 2013.
So I went in November 2012, after scrounging together tips from extra shifts and doubles at the restaurant. I had A BLAST! I survived on cheese and bread because I didn’t bring enough money for meals at restaurants, and I went during the High Times Cannabis Cup which meant I could smoke my cannabis at the event with friends, lessening the money I had to spend at coffeeshops. It wasn’t an extravagant trip but it was out of this world to me. Just to be somewhere new, across the globe, it felt magical.
That trip ended up being the same month that the Netherlands’ government announced they wouldn’t go through with the ban on tourists at coffeeshops, thus making the urgency of it pretty much moot. Tourists can visit coffeeshops to this day, a quick trip from the airport or train station.
The fire was already sparked inside me though, and when NYE rolled around that year I knew my resolution would be to go to another country. Some year’s it’s been big trips, seeing Germany, France and Iceland all in one trip, and other years it’s been all I can do to get up north to Canada or south to Mexico for just a weekend and still meet my goal. When we were planning our wedding it was clear we couldn’t afford a new country, a wedding, and a honeymoon, so we combined two of the three and spent our honeymoon checking off the resolution in Costa Rica!
You might still be in the listening phase of your travel plans. That’s ok, I was happy there for years, but if you feel the spark light inside you that it’s time to be somewhere new and hear new languages, try new foods, get your passport ASAP! Even if you’re in the listening phase get it! When the spark IS lit you’ll be that much closer to be able to take off. Make it the first thing on your checklist, and then book those tickets! I like to book my airfare after a couple weeks of checking prices on different days and different local airports, but I almost always book it before any hotels or excursions. Once my passport and ticket are in hand, there’s no stopping the trip!
When Mio and I started dating we were pretty serious pretty quickly, so of course I told him to get his passport and get ready for some adventures! He’s taken my resolution and made it his own with new ideas. Thanks to Mio’s suggestion of longer layovers we’ve been able to add Iceland and France to our list, when typically I’d have searched for the quickest, most direct route home. So what if we were only in France 10pm to 10am? We saw the Eiffel Tower! We ate fresh baked French bread. We spent less than a day in Iceland and still got to see the hot springs and rushing water against the ice.
Because it’s a goal the two of us now share we can plan for it financially together, rather than feeling like it’s an expensive burden one of us (me) demands.
Maybe you’ll make this resolution your own by changing it from a new country to a new state each year. Or maybe what sparks your fire for travel won’t be the need to smoke cannabis in a social setting, but to me what makes this resolution exciting and doable each year is deciding that there’s something out there in the world I want to see for myself. There’s something out there that stories aren’t good enough for anymore. Once that fire is lit it’s just a matter of finding a way to make it happen! A friend of mine spends her birthday in a new country each year, I love following her posts and watching her plan for it, a coworker plans a month plus long backpack trip every other year just to refresh his mind and break the usual routine. It’ll become the one thing you have to do, and I can’t wait to hear about your trips!
Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!