A few years ago, shortly after joining Facebook (I know, I know), I saw a number of friends had completed something called a Travel List Challenge, ticking off the countries they had been to. It suggested that “most people will have been to fewer than four countries”. Really? Given they must live in one of them, I was surprised by the notion that “most” people may only have visited two others!
I did the challenge and got 26, slightly above the actual user average of 24, and more than any of the friends who had taken the quiz. I felt quietly smug with myself by how well-travelled I must be. Then I thought about all the countries I HADN’T crossed off. Hmmm, there were lots, like REALLY lots. Damn. Then I didn’t feel so smug. I knew I needed to get myself travelling.
“The List” has now become an obsession. I’ve been to some fabulous places that I’d love to revisit and countries that I’d like to explore more, but I now have this little voice inside me, telling me that doing so would be wasting opportunities to see even more of the world. I love going to new places, enjoying the local food and drink, trying to speak a few words of the local lingo and experiencing the culture of the area. I really do want to see more of the world in order to see what’s on offer, challenge myself and expand my mind, though I am starting to worry that more than that, I just want to tick countries off a list!
There is of course the matter of time and money to consider. I’m a teacher so have lots of holidays, but only at given times of the year. My husband however isn’t a teacher so is far more limited to how long he can be away for. And travel isn’t cheap, especially at the times of year when I am able to go. Whilst I love a fancy hotel room, I simply don’t earn the money to pay for them. I realise that there is a compromise to make and so I’m ever more happy these days to stay in a cheap and cheerful motel room, and actually thoroughly enjoy camping when travelling around. I really don’t think I could do a hostel though; I never did the backpacking thing when I was younger and think it’s too late to start now.
I’m also learning to live without some of the creature comforts I would at one point have insisted on: I am actually writing this on holiday in Canada where I have come away for THREE WHOLE WEEKS without my straighteners. I know, I can almost hear the gasps from the girls reading this! Other things I’ve learned to cope with are nasty toilets (I thank China for that one), difficulties communicating (ditto!), not showering every day, and long, sweaty bus journeys (cheers to Kenya on both counts!). I’ve never been that bothered by unpleasant smells, unusual insect life or strange animal noises at night thanks to a childhood in Nigeria.
So….. for the past three years, all my holiday planning has been based on how many new countries I can visit (and spend quality time in; it’s not just a case of quickly passing through). Last year we managed a 3,000 mile road trip around Europe, crossing off Austria and the Czech Republic (as well as revisiting Switzerland, Germany and France). As followers of the MotoGP racing series, the idea of heading to the round in Brno, Czech Republic, seemed the perfect excuse to make the trip.
The idea for our current trip was mooted whilst in Brno: a quick check of the racing calender showed that the Indianapolis round is also during the summer holidays. Of course, I’ve been to the USA before, but another quick check of a map showed its relative proximity to Canada which I hadn’t visited.