“I’ve often said my favorite place is the airport departure lounge because it means you’re about to go somewhere.” – Tony Wheeler (co-founder, Lonely Planet travel guides)
A few anons have asked me how I can travel so much and if I could give some advice to those bitten by the travel bug. My proper, but way overdue, reply:
A little over a long period really adds up. I don’t have summers off, and the longest vacation I ever took was 3 weeks. I’m kind of proud of my Lonely Planet collection, but maybe because it’s taken me about 17 years to get it!
How important is traveling you? I understand people have different levels of responsibilities, commitments, cash and time available, but like anything, the more travel is important to you, the more sacrifices you will be willing to make to cause those wonderful trips to happen.
Long flight connection times can be good. If you have a connecting flight in a city of interest, see if you can get an all-day or overnight stay. Is it enough time to really get to know a city? No. Can you enjoy half a day walking around seeing the sights, sampling the food and taking pictures? Of course! Sometimes the airline includes meals, hotel room and a city tour in the package. I’ve been able to enjoy quick visits to Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Hong Kong on the way to/from my destination.
Look and be prepared for those windows of opportunity. Soon to find yourself with a block of free time? If you’ve already mapped out what you want to do (that means dream, but with a notepad), you’ll be able to act quickly. I know these chances may come only once every 5 or 10 years, but if you never plan or budget for them, soon 20 years will have gone by still waiting for that ideal vacation to materialize.
Take what you can get.You may have a grand plan for a multi-country adventure, but as it nears, things start to fall apart. You may need to scale down your itinerary to keep it alive. More than once I’ve had to make some (at the time) heart-breaking cuts to my schedule to make it work. For example, my Tibet book remains unused because I just couldn’t work it in even though I was close by in Nepal. Can’t always get what you want.
Finally, don’t forget there’s wonder everywhere. If you’re in a long wait until your next far-flung adventure, don’t forget that where you live is an exotic place to much of the world. Some of the best pictures I see on tumblr from original photographers were taken while in their own backyard, literally!