Paris? Tokyo? The Maldives? The Grand Canyon? Is your dream vacation spot an exotic locale as far from your home as possible, or is it just wherever you can score a cheap flight to next? Is it somewhere you’ve wanted to go since you were ten, or is it an off-the-beaten-path place you’ve just heard about? Sometimes mine changes by the hour, or according to my latest bank statement.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler with pages of stamps in your passport, or someone who’s never left the state, it’s important to have a place to dream about and plan for. For me, having that ultimate destination floating around in my head helps me to cope with the weeks/months/(hopefully not) years when I may not be traveling as much as I’d like. Dreaming and planning become my new hobby; it’s the goal I’m saving money for, and it dictates the websites I’m bookmarking and the books I’m reading. My hypothetical vacation makes it easier to say no to that perfect pair of shoes or that sweet purse that is a little more than I wanted to spend. The dream trip turns every possible purchase into a question: do I really want it? Do I want that dress more than I want to go to Australia, for instance? The answer is usually easy to find.
Besides helping me keep to a budget, another great thing about dream vacations is that they can change and shift. Every big trip I take is a dream vacation in some way (even the places that I end up not loving). And as I’ve gotten older, my definition of a “perfect vacation” has changed. It’s morphed from hostels to hotels, from backpacks to rolling luggage, from “as cheap as possible” to “need my own bathroom.”
My dream vacation at 22 was very different from my current one. Back then, I was content with my rail pass and backpack, washing my clothes out in the sinks of questionable hostels and having beer and pretzels for dinner. Now, I’m less likely to stay at a place that charges extra for sheets and more likely to pay a little bit more for a one-or-two star hotel with breakfast included. I’m still thrifty, but only about certain things. I’m not buying cheap “Paris” tee shirts any more. My favorite souvenirs now (aside from deliciously kitschy (and very light/tiny) things like magnets) are the pictures of my trip. Gone are the days of cheap, disposable drug store cameras. I’ve traded them for a decent digital, and it’s been money well spent.
I can’t imagine ever saying, “Well, that’s it. I’ve been everywhere. There’s no place else I want to see.” And how sad would it be if anyone said that? It’s important to always be dreaming about that next (or first) big trip; to be hungry for a new place and see what adventure might be around the corner. It’s like dreaming about what you’d do if you won the lottery, only more attainable because you’re in charge of making it happen. As long as you keep dreaming (and traveling, no matter how long it takes to make it happen), you’ll be winning.
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