The travel “to do” list

When we first made the decision to move to Austria, we knew that traveling around Europe would be a major priority for our time abroad.  How could we live in Vienna and not see Salzburg, Prague, Paris, Venice, London?  So we made a list.  We each chose the places that were, to our minds, not to be missed, and we planned our vacations for our first two years (at the time, we intended them to be our only two years).  Plans changed, things got moved around, but we did manage to visit almost all of the places on our “must see” list in the first two years (everything but Prague) and we got to see a few others, as well.

We didn’t know how much we’d enjoy traveling, though.  We weren’t sure it would be worthwhile, when the challenge of traveling with kids was taken into account.  But we love it.  We’re getting pretty good at it, and we have overwhelmingly enjoyed the experience of traveling with the kids. It’s fantastic, and one of our favorite things about our lifestyle here.  Thinking about any of the places we’ve been can make me wistful and sentimental.  They’ve all been special experiences.

The only “problem” is, instead of “checking off” places on our travel wish list, our list has grown.  A lot.  Now that we’ve travelled, and we know that we love it, our enthusiasm has blossomed.  We’re less fearful.  Our horizons have expanded.  We aren’t limited by our previous ideas of what we thought we were capable of.  Our list now has over a dozen places that we’d like to go — and that’s just the ones in Europe . . . and doesn’t count the ones we’d like to revisit (which is nearly all of the places we’ve already been).  Now we’re facing the reality that we just aren’t going to be able to see them all before our time here is through.

Places become like friends — you visit and you love your time together so much that when you depart, you start counting the moments until you return.  And, as with friends, you end up with so many whose company you enjoy that you’re left feeling like it’s always been too long since you’ve seen each other.  You never feel “done”.  And, making a new friend is a wonderful experience, so that’s always good, too.

And, so it is.  We have only so much time, money, energy and flexibility to travel.  We just aren’t going to get to see everything on our list in the next year.  But that’s ok.  Really, it’s a wonderful “problem” to have.  We’ve been so fortunate to have been able to see so many beautiful places in Europe, and to have had such amazing adventures in each.  Of course that inspires us to want to see more.  Of course that leaves us itching to go back and experience our favorites again.  They all become pieces of our shared history, and wishes for our future, things to plan for and anticipate and share.  Each destination becomes either an old friend to visit or a new friend yet to be met, and they all add to the depth of our experience.  The problem isn’t having so many places that I can’t wait to see — the problem is viewing them as items on a list, waiting to be checked off.  Now I know — I’ll never be done.  Each place I see inspires me to see more.

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