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Envisioning Your Trip of a Lifetime

Most of us have a trip of a lifetime up our sleeves, that dream that goes beyond a bucket list to the one journey we secretly (or not so secretly) would give a proverbial arm and a leg to do. For some, it's Antarctica, or the Galapagos, or the Northern Lights or Greenland - usually distant, usually expensive, and possibly a tad unrealistic (but we'll still do it, right?)

One of my dream destinations - Madagaascar, to see lemurs and giant baobab trees

Someone once asked me what my trip of a lifetime would be and guess what? I couldn't answer!

The closest I came was that my dream was to visit every country in the world, but at 63, the chances of that happening are slightly below average (still, I'm at 83 countries so you never know!)

I hate vague replies so I felt as though someone had thrown down a gauntlet - I took it as a dare.

If I had to put together my trip of a lifetime, what would it be? How would I go about deciding where to go? How would you?

If your dream is already as clear as crystal, that's fabulous!

But for those of you who - like me - enjoy the sound of the words 'trip of a lifetime' without really having one anchored clearly in their minds, I've put together a few prompts that can help us figure it out.

Shall we build that dream trip together, right here and now?

To become real, your trip of a lifetime requires a vision

In the late 1970s and early 1980s a popular book by Shakti Gawain called Creative Visualization revolutionized the self-help world by teaching you how to use your imagination to create what you want in life. 

It's a technique I've used often to help me be creative.

Even if you're skeptical, you know that if you think about something enough and in great detail, you'll have a better chance of getting it than if you don't think about it all. If nothing else, visualization helps you focus.

So let's do a bit of that focusing.

If you have only one trip to make, one big huge mother of a trip, the ONE that's supposed to provide the memories of a lifetime... what would go into that trip? What would make it unforgettable?

Is extraordinary natural beauty your main criterion?

Are you more of a culture vulture, intent on one-of-a-kind civilizations?

  • You can't go wrong with places like Italy, Egypt, Greece, India or Peru, all with ancient cultures whose remnants have survived to the present.

Perhaps your trip of a lifetime is a great journey.

  • You could follow in the footsteps of great explorers like Freya Stark or Alexandra David-Neel or Marco Polo.
  • Or follow the Silk Road or travel from Cape Town to Cairo or overland through Latin America.
  • Or go all the way with a round-the-world trip, stopping in a dozen places.

Maybe you're looking for a big adventure...

  • Your travel destinations could be Central Asia, Iran, Inner Mongolia - or why not one of the world's unrecognized countries? Beware of travel to dangerous places, though. 
  • There are other kinds of adventure - floating away on a hot air balloon, flying over volcanoes in a helicopter or climbing a high mountain. There's no lack of adventure in today's world.

Your trip of a lifetime could be about a theme...

  • Maybe you're a budding wine expert and your trip might involve a wine route, like Bordeaux or Burgundy or South Africa
  • Your theme might be food or World Heritage sites or street art, traveling from city to city to spot the latest
  • Perhaps you're a festival junkie and your dream is the Carneval in Rio, the Dragon Boat races in Hong Kong or Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Is there something you've always wanted to learn?

  • Perhaps you want to learn a language or to drive on ice
  • Maybe you've always dreamed of studying art in Italy or becoming a sommelier in France or a yoga teacher in Bali
  • Or perhaps you'd like to immerse yourself in another culture as part of a career change

Do you feel the need to test yourself?

  • Perhaps you're scared to travel solo but want to push your boundaries
  • You may have fears you want to get beyond - flying, vertigo, meeting new people - and you'd like to release yourself from them

Your trip of a lifetime could be of a more spiritual or introspective nature

  • You could be making a pilgrimage, the Camino, for example
  • To fulfil a wish - a trip to trace family roots or to take a year of freedom
  • Maybe your trip might be about yourself, about change - to volunteer or meditate or visit sacred sites
  • Or maybe simply to do something for yourself after a lifetime of doing things for others.

Do you have a better sense now of what might go into your trip of a lifetime?

Here's what my trip of a lifetime could look like

  • It would be a journey, not a destination - like my Cape to Cairo trip in the 1990s - THAT was a trip of a lifetime
  • It would be lengthy - weeks, not days
  • It would be to a place I can't get to easily - like my recent trip to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan - that felt like the end of the world
  • It would be filled with cultural significance but the culture would be very different from mine - I think of places like Morocco or Mali or Mexico
  • It would be filled with something for all the senses - beautiful things but also compelling sounds, delicious food, wonderful scents... some corners of Bali come to mind, as do parts of Spain and of Japan

It's hard to put together a trip with all these elements... so perhaps my trip would have to include several stops.

I've always wanted to see Madagascar, so that could be part of my trip. I've never been to India but I love the food and would undoubtedly find it beautiful and culturally diverse. And I've always dreamed of one of those beach holidays, in turquoise seas with a room on stilts, far from the world... so it looks as though my trip of a lifetime could take place in a straight line from Madagascar to the Seychelles to India, say, for about six weeks.

That sounds about right. And I now have a trip of a lifetime, which I didn't have when I started writing this page. (Now all I have to do is take it!)

Do you have a trip of a lifetime up your sleeve? Please comment below.

Trip of a lifetime - Seychelles beach