Would you give up sex if it meant you could travel again?

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Oh the places we’ll go…or the places we used to go…or the places we’d love to go. The pandemic has shattered many travel plans.

Yesterday’s double-take headline

Thirty-eight percent of Americans would give up sex for a year, just to travel again. And 80 percent of us feel that travel is part of a well-rounded life.

Wait a minute! Did I hear that right? Yesterday’s newscast headline made me stop in my tracks and investigate the soundbite in detail. Who would give up sex to travel? What program is that?

Turns out it is not a program or a new virtual reality show. Just a silly survey a travel company conducted.

Most of us (except my husband) have been missing traveling the past year. Traveling to see grandkids, traveling to have lunch with girlfriends or to water aerobics classes. Traveling to our getaway vacations.

My husband doesn’t miss traveling because he spent 32 years traveling as a military pilot to places all over the world. He likes home. He’d rather be at home. Well, he’s had ample time to be at home this year and he has a really good excuse not to indulge my need to travel, because we’ve been stuck at home in a pandemic.

And even though I’ve traveled all over Central and South America, many years ago, and even though I’m pretty content to stay home and stay busy, I miss traveling…a lot.

Vaccinations could open things up soon

I get my first Covid vaccination next Tuesday. Within a month, when I get that second shot, I’ll feel free for the first time in a year. As long as I have a mask with me, I won’t hesitate to get in my car and just go. But I know that it won’t be the same as it was before the pandemic.

In fact, a few weeks ago I had to travel to Kansas City to sign closing documents on the sale of my house there. We had an hour to kill that day and tried to find someplace to grab a sandwich. The part of the city where I had the closing used to be thriving. It was deserted. Still. Talk about depressing! We’re talking ghost-town, science fiction, end-of-the-world depressing! I had thought there would not be so many businesses still shuttered now.

Signs at local bars and restaurants may soon turn from Closed to Open.

So, even when we get our vaccines, even when people start traveling again, things are not going to be as easy as they were before the pandemic. Apparently we’re going to have to hold on a bit longer. We may have to even adjust our travel habits a bit once we can get back on the road. I guess travel agencies and airlines and cruise lines are recognizing that, because my cousin Susie has already received notice that trips she had planned for this year are being rescheduled for 2022.

Talk about agony!

What to do while we’re waiting to travel again

So, what do we do while we’re waiting to pursue our passions for travel and the need we have to go places? Well, I’m no expert, but I’m trying to be patient and do as many things virtually as possible. Here are some ideas that popped into my aging brain while pondering yesterday’s headline:

Have you noticed how many little red thingamabobs there are on Google Maps in your area? Follow those thingamabobs on a local journey of discovery.
  • The first thing I plan to do is update my passport. That’s been on my to-do list ever since I got remarried and changed my name. But I keep putting it off. I want to go back to Brazil one of these days. I’d really love to go to Europe… And that brings me to the next suggestion.
  • Start a bucket list of places you’d like to go. You probably already have one, or you have things already checked off a bucket travel list. But this is a fun activity. It’s fun to dream and imagine the places you’ll go.
  • Since everything is online these days, start taking virtual trips on YouTube, or read a travel book or magazine to help grow your bucket list. Attend a virtual concert.
  • Start making a list of places you’d like to go in the state where you live. There are so many places I have yet to explore in Topeka and in Kansas. Western Kansas, with its unique limestone formations, is now at the top of my Visit Kansas bucket list.
  • To help make up your places to visit list, subscribe to email lists or blogs about travel. Connect with your local tourism department and download the state travel brochure.
  • Haul out your old travel photos and put them in an album, virtual or physical, and relive the places you’ve already been and the trips you’ve already taken.
  • Dig out your last travel journal. If you didn’t journal about your last trip, or document it in a photo book or album, start a new travel journal and write about the places you’d like to go. Also, why not just journal about your feelings and frustrations about not traveling?
  • Try to recapture the memories of the most amazing trip you ever took. What did it do for your five senses? What did it sound like? Feel like? Taste and smell like? Write about that as if you’re sitting down and having a face-to-face visit with your grandchildren.

If you follow any of my suggestions, I’ll bet that before you know it, you’ll actually be taking a trip. And for sure, you won’t be taking traveling for granted. In fact, there are many things in addition to travel we won’t be taking for granted anymore.

The face of travel is changing dramatically; mostly due to the need for face masks.

We will get through this difficult time. Spring is almost here. In the meantime, while we wait, keep your mind active and your heart light by taking or planning trips in your imagination.

If you need help getting a journaling practice started, whether for traveling, gardening or just documenting your life, check out this Personal Chapters video blog, or ask to be part of our Facebook Group Memoir Mentors where you’ll get weekly vlogs and suggestions for capturing your memories and starting your memoir.

Retirement travel . . . use it or lose it or you’ll get lost in Arkansas

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What’s the first thing people assume you’ll be doing when you retire? The unisex answer is traveling (as opposed to fishing for guys and reading novels all day for women).

Actually, traveling has been on our bucket list since 2003 . . . the last time we attempted a road trip. Business, acreage and dog ownership had always intervened to confine our trips to overnight business excursions.

When fall ushered in retirement, after we’d already sold our labor-intensive acreage, it was time to finally take a trip. However, we hadn’t become dog-less. We have two spoiled rotten Lhasa-Apsos that we wouldn’t foist on any dog boarding facility or relative, so we almost abandoned plans to go visit my brothers in Southeast Texas for the first time in eight years. Upon calling Brother #2, whose home was to be our hotel for the trip, he urged us to bring them with us. Reluctantly, we agreed.

Do you remember what a chore it was to pack for a road trip with an infant? Double that, then mix in food preparations for animals that are used to nutritional, whole-food cooking that does not resemble commercial dog food, and you’ll get the idea how much work it was just to get ready to drive halfway down the continent.

And now that we’re old fogeys with night driving challenges, we knew we couldn’t make the 13 hour trip in one stint. We researched hotels that would allow pets, made one reservation, and packed for ourselves. In addition, my brother had put in a request for my mom’s mayonnaise cake, a recipe that didn’t do well in the lower altitudes of Texas, so that was a last-minute preparation, following cleanup from a family birthday party the day before we left.

We thought we were pretty smart, setting up a doggie playpen in the back of the Chevy Impala, folding down the seats and installing a 3″ memory foam mattress, adding a blanket and pillows and a few doggie toys. Of course, the large plug-in cooler took up half the space, already crowded with luggage, photo albums for sharing with family, a bag full of the electronic media that seem permanent extensions of our hands, and my sleep apnea machine. Oh, and don’t forget the mayonnaise cake.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that things have changed in the travel world since we last hit the highways and byways. For God’s sake, they’ve even renamed the first highway we took out of town to I-49! When we looked at the Trip-Tik handed to us at the AAA office, we were lost from the first moment. And it didn’t end there. Lemonade Man, being Indian and all, tried to be my navigator but I was too stubborn to listen to his directions. Once in Arkansas and finally reaching Fort Smith, I had the bright idea to take a loop around the city and avoid all the stop-and-go traffic. I was headed south, by golly, and could not get it through my thick skull that loops on your named route sometimes will have you going east or west. Well, somewhere along that loop I looked to the right and saw a sign for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. That was not on the trip route.

Managed to make it back into Arkansas just in time to hit the Ozark Mountain portion of the highway that goes along a ridge with switchbacks and hairpin turns and slower traffic lanes. By that time, Lemonade Man was in the back seat with the dogs and getting pretty impatient with my oohs and ahhhs over the beautiful scenery. It was getting dark, he was tired and cranky and our overnight destination was pegged at another three hours away. He kept repeating ‘Mena” in my ear like a sickening mantra. That’s Mena, Arkansas, instead of our intended Texarkana, and we finally arrived there a little after dark.

The first hotel had a large “No Pets” sign. The second looked like it rented rooms by the hour. The third was not a major chain but would have to do. They only charged $8 a doggie head extra, plus they had a great supper buffet. The only negatives by then were dogs that barked at every passing truck and a too-hard hotel mattress.

The second morning found us determined to get to Texas in record time. We just hadn’t figured on getting lost in Texarkana. I tried to follow the signs that would have put us on I-30/59, but Lemonade Man was determined to keep us on 71 . . . until we reached the dead end downtown. He got behind the wheel when I lost my cool completely after listening to his directions and getting even more lost in a residential area. In two minutes, he stopped to ask directions and we got back on track on I-30. 

But it was me who took us off track through two more cities, ultimately adding 200 extra miles to an already long trip. Ultimately, we had Thanksgiving with my brothers and extended family, sipping on gumbo and saltines in what they told us was a traditional Coon A– feast. The mayonnaise cake was a total disaster and inedible. Maybe they’ve changed the formulation for the white stuff since my mother made it 30 years ago. More likely, I’m just not the cook my mother was.

The dogs got along well with my brother’s aging canine and caused their feline to be confined to quarters. They enjoyed the run of a large fenced yard, with one of them finding a nest of fire ants and getting an unplanned shower, while the other found the cat litter box and helped herself to the contents, then got sick.

On the way home, we took a route that didn’t go through mountains. That shaved off several miles and a few hours. The only mishaps on the return voyage were frequent bathroom stops brought on by the gumbo and being charged $10 a doggie head at the Paris, TX hotel. Once home, we discovered a really neat invention. It’s called MapQuest and it lines out your route and even talks you through it. Once we find a dog sitter, we may be ready for another road trip.