This year, I am the same age that Jerrie Mock (my grandmother and the first woman to fly around the world) was when she made her record-taking flight around the world. In fact, I’m exactly 18 days older than she was. So this year seemed like the perfect time to accomplish one of the two dreams she had for me.
Jerrie’s Dreams for Me
There are three dreams that Grandma had for me. The first was that I would pursue my own dreams instead of the dreams others had for me – i.e. that I would be my own person and follow my heart and passions in life, no matter what society might tell me I should long for and be.
I’ve been achieving this dream for years. Many people don’t understand me because of it. They don’t get the decisions I’ve made, financial choices I’ve gone with, etc., but that’s okay. Folks like me are rarely understood by anyone. I’m grateful that my mother, best friend, and my amazing husband all get me, at least.
The second dream Jerrie had for me was that I would be an opera singer. She loved opera and music and knew I shared that passion for music. When I was eight-years-old, she heard me singing along with the opera on the classical station and popped into my room. “You’re going to be an opera singer,” she said, and then vanished.
I am a singer, and have always been one, and am actually classically trained. I can sing opera, though I choose not to. But, hey, at least I can. And I have been in some operas, operettas, and done some operatic productions in other settings as well.
The third dream she had for me was to make it to more countries than she managed in her lifetime. She made it to 51 countries and six continents, so that means I’m going for 52+ and six continents – maybe seven, if I can figure out how to swing Antarctica. I already have between 34 and 37 (depending on how I ultimately choose to “count” them), and this year, I’m going for the rest.
So now my task is to plan all of that for this year.
Choosing the Destinations
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been to over 30 countries already. And though I do have that goal of getting 20ish more this year, I don’t want to simply travel places because they would “count” towards this goal.
Instead, I want to make sure that every place I visit holds some kind of meaning for me. Some countries may be places where I can visit friends and missionaries I know. Others may have a personal tie because of my own fascinations and interests. Some will include places that meant something to Grandma or someone else I care deeply for.
For example, Cuba was a place that my dad loved dearly, though he never visited. He once attempted to fight in the Cuban Underground to overthrow Castro. (That’s a story for another time!) He was never able to go to Cuba. But I may be able to. I want to help people. I want to visit this country. With the new travel rules, etc., there may be a way for me to go. I’m investigating that.
Choosing the Time to Travel
There are several factors in choosing the time for travel. A lot of it is based on the location, of course, which is closely related to the climate and time of year.
I grew up in Florida, so hot, muggy weather isn’t much of an issue for me. I definitely want to pick as cool a time to travel to humid climates as possible – after all, dehydration is a thing for hikers – but I’m not limiting myself if I can’t go during ideal weather.
For me, I have two main factors that will determine when I’ll travel for a couple of weeks or months in a single go.
First, I’ve got responsibilities and family that I have to consider. I’m in seminary now and have assignments due throughout the year, so I have to consider due dates and be situated in locations where I can study throughout the week and turn in assignments on time.
My family has specific dates that matter for us being together. Anniversaries, for example, and birthdays, special holidays, and some special events are incredibly important for us. Traveling on these dates (unless my hubby can travel with me) just don’t work.
Creating a Budget
Traveling can have a hefty price-tag, especially this much traveling, even on a budget-traveler’s plan. So, that means I’ve got to budget every aspect of the trip(s) I’m taking and keep close accounting of everything to avoid going over what’s reasonable for my family’s income.
I’ll go into a step-by-step plan for this later on, but planning the right budget that’s doable for my family is critical for every stage of my travel. I’ll be working on lodging at super low costs, airfare at low rates, finding buses, trains, and other cheap means of travel that will still allow me to travel as responsibly as possible.
Choosing My Travel Buddies
Some of this travel is directly related to work or impacts my writing career in some ways, so there are some places I cannot have travel companions along for the ride. But for much of my travels, I would like some company.
But in order to do this travel well – to hike places I want to hike, explore cities I want to explore, etc., I have to choose my travel companions well. I’ve written an article on this in detail, but wanted to mention that this is a huge consideration for me.
I have invited 10 different people to travel with me. And as we discuss dates, interests, health needs, etc., I’m carefully crafting my travel plans with them around these things to ensure they’ll enjoy the travel and I will be able to do what I need to for work, pleasure, etc.