I’m constantly getting scrunched up faces from people at cocktail parties or dinners. I shower a lot and try to get to the laundry when I can, so it’s not that.
No, what surprises some folks is that not even travel writers and former newspaper travel editors get to go everywhere they want. When I tell folks all the places that are still on m to-do list (Portugal, Poland, pretty much all of Africa, all of Central America and definitely all of South America) they look at me like I’m a little crazy.
Some of it I can explain. Some of it makes no sense.
When I was the Toronto Star travel editor I always felt it was important to get the most bang for the paper’s buck. I would usually try to get five stories out of a week’s visit somewhere, so I ended up going to places that were more typical of places Star readers would go. That meant a lot of Europe, the U.S., the Caribbean and Canada.
I also had good contacts in Japan and Australia and New Zealand, so I ended up there. But I didn’t really know anyone in Central or South America and not much in the way of Africa. And it always seemed we got enough stories from those places without me going. So I never went. Which was pretty dumb, because now that I’m freelancing it’s a bit harder to get to some of those far-flung places.
Not that this is a serious problem. I’ve been to AMAZING parts of the globe. But I still find it amusing that people simply can’t believe I’ve never been to some very popular spots. I also kinda like watching some folks strut, as if to say, “Wow, I’ve been to places YOU haven’t.” My wife likes this, too, actually. She’s been to San Antonio and I haven’t. She’s been to Nashville. Not me. She’s been to Berlin. I still haven’t made it.
Which is a long way of getting to something I’ve never really put down on paper: a list of the top ten places I want to visit that I haven’t managed to see just yet. I won’t call it a bucket list, at least not until I’m 60 or 65. But that’s kinda what it is.
In no particular order, then, here’s my “WISH LIST” for future travel.
1. Machu Picchu. I know lots of folks go, but it’s one of those iconic spots I just have to see someday.
2. Easter Island. I loved those books about ancient explorers sailing reed vessels and how the ancient Polynesians populated the Pacific. I’ve always wanted to see those brooding statues on a windswept plain high above the ocean.
3. The Northern Lights. I was in the Yukon for a few days once but didn’t see any. That’s a must-see for a Canadian.
4. Brazil. I wouldn’t mind going to Rio, but what I REALLY want to see is the island of Fernando de Noronha. It’s a small island off the northern coast of Brazil, and they only let a few people in at a time. So it’s a tricky one. But the pictures just slay me.
5. Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I know it’s well travelled but it still looks awesome.
6. Costa Rica and maybe Belize. I love a good beach, and I’d also like to see the rainforest in Costa Rica and maybe try some surfing.
7. Niihau. This is a small island that’s privately owned off the coast of Kauai. There isn’t a lot of scenery from what I’ve heard; at least not as dramatic as the other islands. But I’d love to see it; maybe because it’s so mysterious and hard to get to. I’ve also never managed to hike all the way to the beaches on the north side of Kauai. I need to do that before I get too old and decrepit.
8. Western Australia and Adelaide. I really want to see the mountains/hills called the Bungle Bungles, and I also would love to see Adelaide and visit the wineries of the Barossa Valley. Ditto the Margaret River wine area near Perth, now that I think about it.
9. South Africa and a safari. I don’t know anyone who’s been that didn’t love Cape Town. And I’ve always wanted to see lions and giraffes and all those other animals on a safari. Then again, who doesn’t?
10. Portugal. It’s weird that I’ve never been. And I can’t say why, except maybe their tourism board hasn’t been so active in promoting the country. But I have an invitation to see the Azores and then go on to Lisbon in March, so maybe it’ll happen!
11. Bonus spots not on the list that I haven’t been to: Austin or San Antonio, Texas, Bryce and Zion Canyons in the southwest U.S., Bandon Dunes Golf Course in Oregon, Taiwan, Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Russia, Custer Battlefield in Montana, Vienna, Budapest, Santorini, Montenegro, Rangiroa in the South Pacific, the fjords of New Zealand and the Himalayas. Oh, and Jerusalem and the Maldives and Petra in Jordan and the Seychelles and Cabo San Lucas and Gasparilla Island in Florida. And don’t forget Delaware.
WHAT’S ON YOUR WISH LIST FOR TRAVEL? WHAT GIFT CERTIFICATE/GIFT CARD WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE UNDER YOUR TREE AT CHRISTMAS? DROP ME A LINE at firstname.lastname@example.org