An enlightening conversation with my husband has me pondering a question – why do we choose a specific location of the world and label it our “dream trip”? Create a list of top 5 dream trips? Arrange them in a ranking of numerical order? What is it about a specific destination that allures us enough that we desire to visit that one place above all others?
Dream trips are highly personal, almost a reflection of who we are as individuals. We become emotionally attached to a place, almost defensive of its rightful place in our anthology of lifetime goals. From person to person, ask the question – “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?” and everyone has an immediate, clear answer. There are always the common favorites, at least in the United States. Somewhere tantalizingly exotic and warm, an image of paradise with perfect blue skies, warm waves, and a wide expanse of inviting sand. Hawaii. Bahamas. Jamaica. Or a European city, packed full of culture, architecture, and art, an overflowing abundance of history, steeped in thousands of years of civilizations, easily reached by modern flight. Paris. Tuscany. Rome. Florence. London.
But there are always some surprises, and these are tailored to the experiences and personality of the person – no one’s list is exactly the same.
Take me. And my husband. My list includes the Trans-Mongolian Railroad, Iceland, Bhutan, Norway, Patagonia, hiking to Machu Picchu, and travelling the Silk Road. Mark’s list is very different; Spain, Portugal, Germany, New Zealand, and anywhere in the Spanish-speaking world south of our border.
Two very different lists. Our passions and interests, even our upbringings, flavor everything about our desired world travels. I grew up hiking in the outdoor wonderland that surrounds my hometown Portland, OR. I thrill to the idea of hiking the ancient roads used by the Inca to connect and build their empire across the Andes. Or traversing the windswept wilds of mythical Patagonia. Riding by horseback out across the steppes of Mongolia. My father has always been deeply involved in multicultural work, entwined in Portland’s native community, organizing anti-racism conferences, and even living as a missionary in places such as Singapore and Burundi. I credit this upbringing with my thirst for authentic cultural experience where I engage with people in their daily lives. I also adore history, having devoured history and literature of the world since elementary school. I majored in history, art history and anthropology in college. Is this responsible for my dreams of travelling the Silk Road in the footsteps of Marco Polo? Or to ride the rails across Siberia and down into China, as so many merchants have done before me as they shaped the world with their humble footsteps? Absolutely.
Mark’s list centers around who he is as well. A lover of languages, of all things Spanish, and a great conversationalist, always interested in people over sightseeing. Does he wish to endure a 24 hour flight across the Pacific to hike the stunning natural treasures of New Zealand? No, he wants to suffer travel hell (he abhors flying) so that he can finally meet his longtime online euchre-playing friend who raises sheep just outside of Auckland. His strong sense of German-American heritage influences his wish to go to Germany. The lifelong study of the Spanish language and his love affair with their culture and music informs his draw towards all things Spanish – whether Spain herself or all of the former Spanish colonies in the Americas. He finds the blending of religion, culture, music that has created such diverse cultures all across the Americas tantalizing. If anything is going to drag my homebody husband out of his work cubicle, it will be a homestay in Peru or Argentina or Mexico.
I have always enjoyed asking new friends and old what their dream trips are. It is a way to better understand who they are and what makes them tick. Take a moment to evaluate your own list – what do your dream trips say about you?