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Bucket List Destinations Can Wait!

In 2023, pragmatism will yet again define the annual travel plans

Photo by Martin Katler on Unsplash

It is the first month of the year, and it is time to set travel goals for the immediate future. Me and my better half, also a travel junkie, are very like-minded and pragmatic when it comes to making our annual travel plans. Most importantly, we loathe the idea of having to make any compromises when it comes to these well-deserved breathers.

We usually plan one elaborate trip every three months or so, which makes it four proper vacations a year. Besides, if we are able to match our schedules, we squeeze in an additional trip or two. These aren’t elaborate affairs, but rather a sojourn.

For each of the trips that we plan, there is a clear division of work. Once the prospective destination is locked, my better half is tasked with doing the packing, as also the necessary shopping ahead of the departure. And it is my responsibility to take care of bookings and formulate the modus operandi — our course of action during the trip, per se.

There is one common feature that is the highlight of our four elaborate plans, and that pertains to a year-end ritual. It is an annual trip that we plan during the Christmas period, something that spills over to the first week of the new year. In that sense, suffice to say we have recently returned from our first vacation of 2023.

Numbers don’t matter

During my travels and otherwise, I have met (and observed) many who are desperate to increase their country count. For them, it is always about the number of countries covered. Though I refrain from getting into arguments with this lot (makes little sense), I find their approach amusing.

Travel for me is not about covering a certain number of countries but exploring the countries that I really like. Though I have visited 60-plus countries so far, the count is not something that excites me. I prefer to make repeat visits to countries I like and explore them further with every subsequent trip.

For instance, I neither need an excuse nor any planning to visit Belgium, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. These are my favorite countries both in terms of travel infrastructure and ease of travel.

If I get a chance again this year, I will go ahead with a repeat visit to any of these countries as opposed to going to a completely new one.

The bucket list…

Considering I have visited many countries, quite a few of them with my better half, a lot of the places that were part of our bucket list have been covered. In fact, a major chunk has been taken care of. We have been fortunate enough to have traveled to a lot of many places that we always wanted to visit.

That being said, there are still a few countries that need to be ticked off. They are on a priority list, so to speak. Four of them happen to be on four different continents. There is Namibia (in Africa), Japan (in Asia), New Zealand (Oceania) and Mexico (North America).

What we await with eager anticipation albeit is a scheduled trip to South America. We intend to begin with Uruguay, then head to Paraguay before travelling across Argentina all the way down to Ushuaia. A trip to Antarctica will then seem realistic. Even if this plan doesn’t work out as expected, we will at least derive satisfaction from the fact that we attempted to cover all the continents.

Are we heading to any of these remaining bucket list destinations then? Well, not this year. The idea has been put on the back burner and we will come back to it when the time is right.

Reason supersedes emotion

It is true that there are still many places where we would love to go, but this is not the appropriate time. Travelling per se is an emotional roller coaster that always offers a mixed bag of experiences, some memorable and others forgettable. The planning, therefore, should be based on reason.

As such, my travel plans are more often than not defined by pragmatism. I am completely risk-averse when it comes to planning my travel. Fortunately, me and my better half have a similar mentality when it comes to the rational aspect. It is not only about travelling to a particular destination but also doing the best (from your end) to ensure the trip is more comfortable and less cumbersome.

A dastardly virus, and its many variants, forced us to either change our travel plans or cancel them altogether in the last couple of years. We ended up being confined to our homes or going to destinations we wouldn’t have contemplated otherwise.

The virus continues to raise its ugly head now and then. While it may have the potential to send us back to confinement (read another lockdown), we are sure of one thing; we won’t let it affect our plans if and when we decided to go ahead.

As such, long-distance travel is not on our agenda this year. It continues to be a period of uncertainty, and the need is to make your arrangements with cautious optimism. We plan to stick to Europe. Fortunately, it is the world’s most beautiful continent and offers a wide range of options to choose from.

The list is subject to change

Our focus for the year is to visit a few places that we have been guilty of ignoring in the past. Correction, ignoring is perhaps not the appropriate word in this case. Neglected is a better word.

These are countries we planned to visit earlier, but a change of plans made us sacrifice these options for what we perceived as better alternatives. This year, we would like to give these places the respect they deserve, by not putting them on the back burner.

On top of the list are two small countries, Luxembourg and Slovakia. Each of them won’t require more than a couple of days and seem imminently doable. Bratislava is one place that has always been part of plans, but somehow it has never worked out. Hopefully, it does this year.

To be honest it is after joining Globetrotters that I have decided on Bratislava as a future destination. The person who has made me reconsider my decision to make the Slovak capital an absolute priority is Adrienne Beaumont. To say that I immensely enjoyed reading her December 2021 account about her time in that country will be akin to stating the obvious.

Below’s the link to her inspiring piece.

That apart, we may head to the Baltics again. The countries in this region are small and extremely beautiful. If this doesn’t work out, it will be a return to the Balkans, a region we have recently returned from. Albania and Montenegro are our preferred choice for this year.

A heartfelt gratitude to Jillian Amatt — Artistic Voyages for being such an inspiration. I have interacted a bit with her and appreciate the fact that she is a full-time traveller. I love travelling as well but it takes a lot to focus on it full-time, and she is doing it commendably. It is courtesy of her various accounts that I planned a trip to the Balkans at the end of last year.

While it is difficult to mention only one piece — as there are many that I enjoyed reading — that inspired me to head south, the one mentioned under is an absolute favorite.

Finally, towards the end of the year, we are targeting a return to either Italy or Spain, albeit to a different region. As things stand, our preference is a toss-up between the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy and the Basque Country (Spain). As is the habit, we will explore in detail the region that we visit.

It is by no means a guarantee that we will travel to all the intended destinations. Plans can change after all. That being said, we will be content if we manage to tick off at least a couple of the places listed above.

Delving deep in Deutschland

More importantly, we will further explore the country we call home. Germany offers a plethora of options to choose from, and each is more endearing and interesting than the other.

In the year gone by, we managed to undertake short trips to many parts of north and east Germany. Going to less touristy destinations like Lüneburg, Halle (on Saale) and Neumünster gave a completely different spin to our existing perspective.

This year the plan is to head to the south, when time permits, of course. On second thoughts the additional trip or two, mentioned at the outset, will now be earmarked to further explore Deutschland.

Traveling within your country is not only a viable alternative but also a lot more pragmatic. It requires little effort and guarantees loads of excitement.



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Vickey Maverick

‘Ditch the Niche.’ This is a humble effort at providing short insights as also detailed narratives on an array of topics to those readers who like some variety