Make 2011 Your Year for Travel.

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

No matter where I am in the world, I wake up Dec. 26 ready to roll. I mean take stock of my life, move forward, clean my office, closet, and my world – get rid of things that don’t work literally and figuratively. And of course, I am energized by the possibilities of the new year.

“What would make me happier?” is a question many of us ask ourselves as we consider resolutions… most of the time, we know, we just don’t always follow through and act on it.

Maybe it is simply making time for something you love to do, like traveling. Maybe you haven’t done a lot of it recently because of financial pressures… the hassle of today’s airports… a young family… or a job that just won’t let you get away.

Lately, I’ve been inspired by a Lee Ann Womack song – you may have heard it on a TV commercial during recent football games… and appreciate the lyrics also.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder…. get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted….”

Take away: Make a list of the places you really want to go. Remember your dreams, even though they can get buried in every day living. It may take just 10 minutes to google a destination online that gets you fired up again about seeing the world. Tap into that lost desire.

Time will slip away, and you could be thinking about the same place for years… make a plan to go. You aren’t getting any younger.

“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance. NEVER settle for the path of least resistance. Living might mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking….”

Take away: There may be something holding you back. It might be a challenge – finances? Young children?  Don’t get complacent. Stand for what you want and need.

With a little thought, planning, and adjustment you can make it happen. If you are out of a job, it may be hard to think about traveling, but ironically, this is the best time. I can’t tell you how many times I have been between jobs, and plan a shorter trip than I would have liked because I am preoccupied with getting back to find a job – when really, getting away was the best medicine to clear my head, and redefine my goals. If you have money saved, you can travel very frugally and have a great trip. If finances aren’t making it possible, plan this trip for next year, and give yourself a goal to save for it.

If you’ve never traveled with children, and just don’t want to face the extra work, you ARE settling for the path of least resistance. You only have kids around for so long, and a trip is a great way to spend time and teach your children about the world, and how to behave in different settings!

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens.”

Take away: If you have small children, you might not be taking the same trips you used to take, or staying at the same hotels. But you can rediscover a whole new world.

There are some places I call my “starter kit vacation” destinations that are easy trips for families – renting a beach house being one of them. The ocean provides hours of entertainment for kids… and having a house for meals and snacks, quick diaper changes, etc is easy for families. If that doesn’t sound exciting – try a twist and book a beach house on the opposite coast for a new flavor – for instance, if you live in the west – try Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. ( I heave heard unofficially that there were more houses available in these areas due to the economy…) or if you are near the east, try Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, or San Diego.

Other easy destinations:

—With young families, try all inclusive vacations that provide almost everything after you pay one price – including entertainment. Club Med, cruises, or for the more adventurous, check out Backroads…a bicycle touring company. (I can’t be a hypocrite – this has been on my list for years, so now I have to plan it.) www.backroads.com

–Another with young children – FDR Resort in Jamaica  – each room comes with a vacation nanny to help! www.fdrholidays.com

–If you want to spice it up and visit a foreign country, Canada is close and English speaking. There are fabulous destinations on the east – Montreal..and the west – Banff (Gorgeous!!) and Vancouver. Banff is a national park with plenty of outdoor activities, while Vancouver is an urban trip.

–Travel to cities where there is plenty to do, and close to an airport…Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Boston…

“Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter. When you come close to selling out, reconsider. Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance. And if you get the choice to sit it out or dance…..I hope you dance.”

Take away: Dance. Unquestionably, dance.

Don’t let anyone stop you – a demanding boss or a spouse or partner  who doesn’t share your desire to travel. Make time away from your job. Grab a friend, cousin, neighbor, or go alone.

I could go on with many platitudes to try and inspire you – life is too short, etc. But really – we only have one shot. What are you waiting for? If not now, when?

“Time is a real and constant motion, always rolling us along. Tell me who wants to look back on their youth and wonder where those years have gone?”

Happy New Year.

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