Two things about traveling abroad

We leave for Italy three weeks from today.

I’ve found a couple of devastating dresses, which one should have for Italy, after all.   A couple of nice skirts to pair with tanks or sleeves, whatever is required.  The scarves I already have.  No shoes yet.  Still need to replace my suitcase, too, since the zipper on my main bag exploded last time I used it.  It occurred to me that I will also need to pack some jeans and sweaters, since we’ll spend the final week in England, a spot not likely to be sunny and hot in October.   

I read a blog very recently (apologize that I can’t remember where it was….if you know, tell me) in which the writer expressed her lifelong desire to go to England.   And I remember when I felt that way, that it was so far away and so expensive and so impossibly wonderfully impossible that I’d never be able to go.  Oh, I burned to go, first to England, then everywhere.  The memory brought home a couple of things.

One, travel is so precious and fantastic and I’m very grateful that it has become a part of my life.  I love to go. Especially go abroad.  Just that phrase gives me a little shiver on my spine.  If I have a trip abroad on the agenda for a given year, the mundane stuff seems ever so much more bearable.  Last year, it was England, Scotland, France.   This year, we were not going to take the time, but one thing and another conspired and we decided we really should go to England to see Christopher Robin’s mother.   So we decided to go to Matera for the Women’s Fiction Conference, too, and check out a little of southern Italy while we’re at it.  Naples and Pompeii.  I’m doing a booksigning at a store in Bari, which will be quite an interesting experience.  (If any of you speak Italian, I would like a beautiful phrase to sign in my book.  I often sign "Walk in beauty," in English.  Is there something poetic like that?)  Then to amble around Kent in a very relaxed sort of way.  Go back to Sissinghurst, for sure.   

Anyway, point two: I know I say this a lot, but it’s worth saying again.  A woman in one of my email societies thought it would cost $10-15K for one person to go to Europe for three weeks.  No. Way.  It can be done for much, much less, especially if you choose the time carefully.  Full summer is out.  Watch for holidays in the countries you are visiting, and check to be sure the sites you want to visit will actually be open.   Then, there’s plenty of freedom to plan the cheapest possible times.  The internet has zillions of bargains.  There are house switching services.  Hostels and B&Bs.  Small ecotours for the active, or with special interests.   

If you burn to visit another country, I strongly believe you should do it.   Mark a date on your calendar, and start planning.  Plan a budget, start saving, and make it a priority.  It will change you, excite you, give you something to look forward to.   

Point three:  I have some new places on my "going abroad" list.   Next year, it’s Australia and New Zealand. The year after, in 2009, it’s India.  If I don’t put it on the list, things will keep knocking it sideways.  In between, probably Hawaii (for CR who wants to see it) and Mexico with my girlfriends, since it’s really close and I have never been and I’m very sure I will really like it. 

And next weekend, it’s Indianapolis, to teach Sense of Place.  If you’re around, come visit.

What is your dream place to visit?  If you don’t have plans to get there in the next year or two, what’s standing in your way?  Where would you like to return? 

7 thoughts on “Two things about traveling abroad

  1. Sharyn

    “Walk in beauty” translates to “cammini nella bellezza.” A little cumbersome, I fear…although you could shorten it to “cammini nel’bellezza,” which I think works better.


  2. Never underestimate the power of frequent flyer miles to get you where you want to go, either! I, too, am burning to go abroad, but I’m mainly waiting until my youngest is a little older so she doesn’t freak when I leave her for a couple of weeks if I can’t afford to take her with me. (Although, that would be lovely, too!)

    BUT…in the meantime, in the last four or five years, I have flown using FF miles on more trips than I can remember, including a honeymooon to Hawaii, one very meaningful writer’s conference in La Jolla last year, another wonderful trip to Boston, one for me and two kids this summer to Washington, DC, where we crashed my husband’s business trip and so didn’t have to pay hotel, either.

    Yes, my husband gets lots of frequent flier miles for business, BUT…even if you are single and don’t travel for business, do not forget there are ways to maximize your miles and take trips. We have a Mastercard that gives us FF miles for everything we charge. The key here is, you must be disciplined to pay it off EVERY SINGLE month. Don’t get into debt to do it, because that just doesn’t make sense. Thank goodness for my psycho budgeter husband–I’m not sure I would have the discipline on my own. You have to treat your credit card like it’s your check book. You charge everything you can (including groceries, utility bills, etc.), subtract everything you charge from your check book as you do it, then send the credit card a big check for the total at the end of the month. We charge everything we possibly can–and college tuition for the next 12 years is going to go a long way toward my trip abroad! 🙂 There are also programs where dining at restaurants where you might eat anyway gives you extra miles, and you often can assign dollars spent at certain hotel brands to go to your FF account instead of their program.

    Again, yes, we get a lot of miles because of business, tuition, etc., but we’ve also taken several trips where all five of us have flown on the miles, so even for a single person who doesn’t do business travel, it seems this might work.

    You also have to plan ahead a bit to get flights that work for you for the lowest number of miles. Just having the flight paid for somehow seems to increase my motivation to save or find the money for the rest of the expenses.

    If you aren’t disciplined, though, saving a few dollars every week should still eventually get you there without getting you into trouble.

  3. Have a great time in Italy! And we’re really looking forward to seeing you in Australia. I want to go back to Venice and Paris. Venice in particular. For an Aussie girl used to the wide open spaces (even in cities) Venice was a fairy tale place. I have a relative who lives in Bloomington which is about an hour or so from Indianapolis – it’s a cute little university town.

  4. Enjoy Italy, Barbara! I haven’t been there yet, but it’s on my list of places to visit. I’m also dreaming about Central Asia – I’d love to wander through the markets in Samarkand!

    And, ditto-ing Keziah, we’re really looking forward to seeing you in Australia next year. Will you have some time to explore? Let me know if you’d like some trip-planning suggestions, especially if you’re interested in rural/outback Australia. There are some amazing places out there 🙂

  5. I’ve been to Italy, but GG hasn’t. It’s our next planned place hopefully in two years. Have a great time. I love when you tell us about the places you visit because you’re enthusiasm for people and places is so contagious.

  6. Sharyn, I will keep looking. You’re right. That’s not as flowing in Italian.

    Kez & Bron, am so looking forward to seeing your world. I wonder if it will be like the western US or really not. CR wants to find some orienteering events maybe.

    Julie, great suggestion on the air miles. I’ve done a lot with mine, and collect credit card miles like that, too. A friend of mine was a serious business traveler and taught me the ins and outs of hotel and flyer miles. A family of five though—that’s impressive!

    Thanks, Rosie. I’ll be taking good notes for later blogs. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to find a cafe or something there.

  7. I love to travel but haven’t been able to do so in recent years for reasons related to my mother’s health.

    Places I am longing to return to are Norway (I was an exchange student there xx years ago) and France (almost as long an absence), except I would probably need an entire month in Paris this time, mostly owing to a wonderful photo blog I stumbled across a few months ago ( — Peter has led us on some beautiful cybertours of the city — and at least another month to visit other parts of the country I wish to see (Bretagne, Normande, Provence).

    I’d also love to go on an Alskan cruise and visit Italy, England and Scotland someday.

    Enjoy your upcoming trip, Barbara – I know you’ll have a grand time! *g*

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