Sorting Green Travel Options
Having just spent the better part of the day at the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show I am not surprised to find my work space littered with piles of travel fliers, brochures, trip DVDs, and a rather impressive stack of business cars which resembles a particular tower that leans to one side. I had conversations about travel to just about every part of the world and even ran into a few friends, not only among the attendees but also vendors and demonstrators. It was like old home week. But with all this information, literally at my feet, how does one decide where to go next?
While walking the show, it is easy to get sucked into destinations like you would a pair of shoes. You see all the benefits and how stylish they really are and viola! your bag is full of trips you have to take. Happily, some of those trips require new shoes, so back to shoe shopping, this time for real. But there you are, trips that call to you from every corner of the globe and you still have to deal with work schedules, allotted vacation time, oh, and the annoyance of actually having to pay for the trips. As, reality begins to enter the picture, you begin to willow away your options, prioritizing everything into piles: this year, next year, within 5 years, within 10 years, and “What was I thinking?!” But what goes into each pile?
How you determine where you go this year, within 5 years, or that are totally insane, all depends upon where you have been and your current ability to travel. For example, if you already have a large trip planned for this year, then you may find that your travel budget for the year is limited to a few weekend trips and maybe one 4-5 day trip between now and the time you leave on your big trip in the fall. Great. You have set your priorities for this year. Now, to help get through the pile of tempting places in front of you, consider making 3 initial piles: “with in 5 years”, “within 10 years”, and “What was I thinking?!”
The 5 year pile should be trips that require your physical level to be at the level that it is now, or at a level you can reasonably achieve within the next year, but be sure it is a level you can also maintain for the duration. The 10 year pile should consist of places that require a little less physical activity, because lets face it, none of us are getting any younger and in 10 years from now it will be harder to strap on a 75 pound pack, than it is this year or even next year. Now, I am not suggesting that the older you get the less active you have to be. Quite the opposite. But there are a few places in the world that are not at all suited to older travelers. The opposite is also true, where younger travelers are at a disadvantage. The Totally Insane pile are those trips that you would do if you had limitless sums of money and had all the time in the world to devote to travel.
As examples, let me share a few from my assorted piles. Since I have a trip planned for this year, I am already making plans for next year. There has been talk of attempting the summit of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. I, of course, have picked up several different packets to do just that. I am impressed with the range of options and prices. I have even been given some “insider” information about the better routes to take and have decided which one I would like to take. So that is in the 5 year pile, but off to the side, since it is a possibility for next year. I have also added to that off to the side part of the pile SCUBA diving lessons/certification. While it has nothing to do with the trek up a mountain, it does have something to do with what I want to do in the near future, as well as being a great way to fill in the weekends when I have time for a short trip. On the pile proper are possible trips to Cuba, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, and all parts of Africa.
The 10 year pile has trips to Japan, Alaska, Greece, Turkey, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and South East Asia in general. These are trips I really want to take but that take a back seat to those in the prior pile. This does not mean that a trip might not be hoisted out of the 10 year pile and plopped squarely in the middle of next year, but at the moment, the plans aren’t set that way.
Granted I also have a side pile that I call “My Midlife Crisis.” This isn’t a pile so much as a collection of information all geared toward one trip to the Himalaya. The goal is set to go within 6 years, and since it falls in the middle of both piles, it’s a pile all to itself. And since I can determine my midlife crisis as I see fit, the actual stops along the way and what it includes, aside from Everest that is, makes it necessary to gather information. Nepal and Tibet are no-brainers. I’d also like to go into the mountain region of India, to visit what is called Little Lhasa, and to hopefully see one particular individual that happens to live there. A traveler has to have dreams, right?
Then there is the infamous “What was I thinking?!” pile. Here you sort all the trips you would love to take but are unable to take for a full range of reasons. The name may suggest totally insane trips, but that isn’t necessarily true. For example, I have a trip in that pile that I would kill to take, but it takes nearly 3 months and costs well over $50,000. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is totally worth every single dime and, like I said, I would kill to take it, but time and money prevent me from taking it right now. Hence its placement in the “What was I thinking?!” pile. There are a few others that are in that pile as well and they are all equally amazing and I am prevented from taking them for the same reasons. I hope to correct that situation in the near future, but right now, piles are piles.
Now, as you were sorting through everything, you probably began to prioritize your piles. Bet you have a few trips off to the side of each pile that indicate sooner and later prioritization. Hence the “Next Year” pile listed above. This is where you put the trips you would love to be able to take within the next year to 18 months. Technically, it is longer than a year, but who is going to get all that technical here? Don’t look at me – I have a mid life crisis pile.
Great. You are all done sorting. Now what? Begin adding all the information you need to your address book, file it away in a filing cabinet for future reference, or start a travel journal which includes trips you want to take and the information you need to make them happen. I for one add the information to my address book in my computer. I add all the information I can get and add notes fro the conversations I had with the people at the booth. I also keep track of where and when I got the information, in this case the 2012 Travel & Adventure Show in Long Beach. This way I know how long I have had the information and where to go to get updated dates & prices, plus who to make travel plans with or through. Then the brochures and fliers find their way into the recycling bin or I pass them along to travelers with similar interests or who have also been talking about taking a trip to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, etc. Passing along information is just as green as recycling, if not more so. And now that I have destinations in mind I can begin to search for green hotels and activities to make the trip as green as possible.
And there you have it. A few hours in a convention center and you have several hours of work ahead of you. But think of it as an investment in your future travels. I suspect you have also dropped a few places off your original list as well. I know I have decided there are a few places I really don’t need to visit, at least not right now. Why? No real reason, not that can be identified. It might have been the lack of enthusiasm of the booth staff, or the inability to get all the information I really needed. Or was it that I couldn’t get a cloth bag to hold my stuff? Must have been the lack of bags. Yeah, that’s it. No bag = no travel.
Travel green. Pass it on.