Friday, September 9, 2016

why I'd rather travel than have pretty nails.

I have pretty sad looking nails, on both my fingers and toes.  I mean, I try to make them pretty...but without the deft talent of a professional semi-regularly they can get pretty rough.  I look at other people's nails and feel admiration over their length, shape and overall prettiness.  I have moments of "I should really put more effort into my nail health!"  Then I remind myself why my nails look so bad. The reason, besides biting them mercilessly while consuming long novels, is that I don't put in the time, effort, or money it takes to have beautiful nails.

But this post is not about nails.  It is about travel.  (Don't worry - I'll get there.)

I am not the most well-travelled of my friends, or even some of my family.  I love this fact, because I love hearing about the adventures of others, and getting travel inspiration + tips from those I know and trust!  
Personally, I have been blessed to travel a decent amount in my life. This stems several things: 

1. An adventurous father who made sure that we, as a family, as well as our small church's youth group, took a great many trips.  By age sixteen I had seen most of the U.S., as well as various trips to Canada and Mexico, via borrowed or rented RV's, a giant brown conversion van, or a Purple Bus. We didn't have much money, but Dad made it happen.

as a seventeen-year-old in paris
2. I don't think I've ever said no to a travel opportunity.  At age seventeen I plunked down several thousand dollars I had earned working part-time at a party goods store to take a high school German trip to Europe.  It was not actually my high school, but one of my best friends from church encouraged me to go with her school's group.  We spent nine days zipping through Austria, Switzerland, France, and, of course, Germany.  That was my first European travel experience, and it definitely left me yearning for more.  Travel, to me, is always worth it.  For the experience, for the fellowship with loved ones, and for the broadening of life views.  I can't remember a time when I turned a travel opportunity down that was seriously on the table.  I have always made it a point to attend family gatherings if humanly possible, no matter where it is (my fam is pretty spread out!) We lug our kids around the state and country (and once, with baby Cormac, to Europe) because it's always worth it. Hubby and I plan one big romantic getaway per year. We do "friend weekends" whenever possible!  Part of this prioritizing is that my love language is quality time.  You get to know people better than ever through shared, intimate experiences.  Making memories.  Laughing and eating and even arguing due to close quarters.  I love social media as much as anyone, but often I feel depressed by the lack of real connection.  "Likes" do not equal true affection, but often are just a quick check mark of fleeting recognition.  Travel - anywhere - provides a setting for personal growth, as well as relational growth with others.
double decker bus fun in london
3. Hubby and I prioritize travel in our budget - over many other things!  When we discuss finances (which we very often do) it always involves me saying, "Yes, yes, yes, I agree to all of that.  But...we will be able to still travel, right?"  We are blessed with a comfortable income, but like all couples we have to make choices. Saving and investing is HUGE to my husband, so when it comes to "extra spending" we prefer to allocate funds towards travel rather than : eating out, expensive clothing, expensive mortgages, paying professionals to renovate our home, expensive hobbies, expensive alcohol, expensive home furnishings, expensive art...okay, you get the picture.  Our home is pretty nice, in my humble opinion, thanks to "good bones" and all Hubby's hard work renovating it mostly by himself; however,  a burglar wouldn't find much to take.  My wedding ring is the only jewelry I have of any value, and even that is pretty modest.   We don't get much joy out of "stuff." Also, I am pretty sure the last time I paid for someone to wax my eyebrows or paint any of my nails has been at least three years ago.  (See - I told you I'd get there!)

Side note : I do indulge in twice-yearly haircuts (occasionally coloring, too) since all my self-done hair 'dos up through high school were, well, really disastrous.  My last trip to the salon was in I think I am due for a 'do soon!

So I don't have pretty nails - and I am okay with the reason for it. My ill-manicured hands and feet have become a personal metaphor for a well-travelled existence.

For my money, that is worth it.  I never want to look back and regret a missed adventure.   Sure, I have personal regrets of things that have happened during travel -- fights, moments of fear, moments of withdrawal into myself which caused me to miss moments of utter beauty.  But never have I experienced the regret of not going.

So,  I will hold dear the photographs taken, the freckles permanent on my skin from long walks to the ocean,  and the smells that will forever remind me of places we have been.  The ferocious city smell of garbage the night of July 4th by the Hudson in NYC.  The faint scent of coffee and rain outside a Covent Garden cafe.  Dust and mule droppings while staring up at the stars from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
We all have had moments and memories like these.

Take a moment and be grateful for all of your "travel moments" - write them out and describe them. Re-read journals you kept on your trips.  Call a friend or have a drink with your spouse and reminisce.
on the train to soller
If you haven't had many travel experiences, it is never too late to start.  My mother had not left our continent until she was in her sixties -- and now I believe she has more stamps in her passport than I do!

Also, when it comes to finances, some of the best travel stories I've listened to or read about come from people who didn't have much money to do it, but found a way to adventure anyhow.

"We were poor but we were happy."  - Ernest Hemingway, writing of when he was living in Paris, traveling often to Spain and Austria with his first wife, before having gained any financial success through writing.

on the beach at night in Barcelona - eating take-out burgers and drinking cheap (but good) wine
I'll leave you with one more Hemingway travel quote I like...

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love." Hemingway, talking to his wife Hadley after a "friend weekend" with Fitzgerald.  I think he did end up loving Fitzgerald, though.  He wrote of the experience in his memoir of Paris, fondly and amusedly, and they certainly ended up as friends.

Maybe our love for others deepens through these travel experiences.   It never hurts to take the chance, right?


Recap of Spain to come!
Have a fabulous weekend, friends!