New Year, New Travel: What Will 2016 Bring?

After returning from my first business trip of the year, I had some time to think about my trips in 2015. At the start, I made a promise to myself to make the most of every trip I took. It didn’t matter if it was business or personal, I was going to find the sense of adventure that travel embodies for me. Reflecting back, I am proud to say I made the most of (almost) every single trip and am really kind of amazed at what I was able to experience – all because I opened up my perspective on what travel could be.

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Here are the top three things I learned in 2015:

  1. Friends: By far, the best thing I got out of my travels in 2015 was time with friends who I rarely see anymore. In DC, Boston, Seattle, Boise and the Bay Area I reconnected with friends, caught up on their lives and realized how lucky I am to have these people be a part of my journey. Conversations picked up where they left off 12 years ago, our kids hung out together and in the small space of an hour or two I was reminded why we were friends in the first place.
  2. Stay the Weekend: In the past, I’ve always hesitated to take an extra day or two and extend a business trip. Too much work in the office! Who is going to take the kids to their weekend activities? In other words, I came up with a lot of excuses. This year I had the chance to attend a conference in Monaco and decided I needed to stay to explore the country and visit an area I had never been to before. I learned so much about myself – sometimes its ok to wander with out a plan, eating at a great restaurant can be a wonderful experience even if you are by yourself, but most of all, I learned how important sharing a travel experience is for me. I would do it all over again next time a great opportunity presents itself, but I may just invite family or friends to join me.
  3. Find the “moment”: Regardless of where I was, there always seemed to be one moment that sent chills up my spine, took my breath away or made me want to jump around like a little kid. In Chattanooga, it was finding this cool breakfast place and deciding with my 13 year old we were going to seek out the best breakfast place in every city we traveled to for soccer. When I was in Monaco I was walking to dinner with my colleagues, we turned the corner to this breathtaking view and had an incredible dinner at this amazing little restaurant. Driving from SFO to Half Moon Bay, I took a trip down memory lane seeing the pumpkin patch I took my kids to as toddlers and the English pub randomly sitting off of Hwy 1 where we had 4th of July lunch one year. All of these moments gave me “that” feeling and I knew I needed to hold on to them. Those are the moments that make me feel alive.

So what will 2016 bring? As of today there are no big trips on the books, but I will admit I’m itching to plan my next adventure. There will be definitely be soccer travel and I can only imagine what 17 fourteen year old boys can get up to in Vegas. Hopefully they’ll remember they are there to play soccer!

The one thing I know for certain is I’m going to make the most of every day I can for traveling. Conde Nast Traveler had a great article in December about 8 New Year’s Travel Resolutions and the one that jumped out at me was “Make 2016 the year of no unclaimed vacation days”. Amen. I’m pretty sure that is a resolution I can handle.

Exactly What You Need

This year I’ve been very conscious of stepping outside of my day-to-day routine. It’s easy with kids, soccer schedules and work to get caught up in the same tasks week in and week out. For the planner I am, there is definitely comfort in those routines. However, I’ve also come to realize I need to push those boundaries and make the most of unplanned moments. 

Last week my best friend from high school texted me out of the blue. Her first words were “don’t give me an answer without seriously considering. . .” Needless to say she had my attention. Someone backed out of the Madonna concert she was going to on Saturday night and would I make the journey to Washington DC to go with her. Was I desperate to see Madonna in concert? Eh. Would I make the trip to spend an unexpected weekend with my BFF? Absolutely!

  
I packed my bag, threw on the ridiculously overpriced red Converse sneakers I bought in Rome when my feet hurt so bad I could barely walk (worth EVERY Euro BTW), and headed for the airport. I’m at airports a lot for work travel. I have my routines. I know how long security will take and exactly how much time I need to get from the parking lot to my gate. The feel of that routine was so different this time. I was seizing the moment and taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity that was being presented to me.

It turns out the weekend was just what I needed in so many ways. There is nothing like spending a lazy day talking, chatting and catching up with a friend who has known you for 30 years. So much is said and understood without really having to say a lot. The laughter is deeper and the familiarity is like a big hug that wraps around you. 

  
We had a really fun night. Dinner was great. Madonna was everything you’d expect her to be.  People watching was fantastic. The variety of gay/straight, old/young, conservative/outlandishly dressed people to watch and observe was probably my favorite part of the night. Even the ride home provided an unexpected treat when we drove by the Washinton Monument and were able to capture this really cool picture.

  
The weekend was a great reminder to stay open to the possibility of what may be. Making the spur of the moment decision, hopping on a plane and being open to the experience gave me so much more than the thrill of adventure. I got time with one of my favorite people in the world and a great memory to add to the many we have created over the years. Funny how those red sneakers took me exactly where I needed to be!