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Looking forward and looking back

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

Last year, I made my first set of travel-related resolutions. My first resolution was to pack lightly by better organizing my clothes. I did use this methodology for several longer trips, and it worked like a charm, especially when I made a list first. I failed miserably when we drove instead of flying, however. For some reason, when faced with all that space in the car, I just lost my packing sense altogether.  My new version of this resolution is to pack lightly—no matter what the mode of transportation and always start with a list.

Another resolution was to exercise when traveling. Unfortunately, the result was a very mixed bag. I packed workout clothes on every trip and used them about twenty percent of the time. Somehow, when that alarm rang for an early morning workout, I tended to hit snooze. 2014 has to be the year I make exercise on the road a habit.

I also resolved to stop forgetting my sundries. I experienced total failure on this resolution. During my travels, I bought half a dozen toothbrushes, which is what I always forget.  Along the lines of sundries, I also resolved to stop bringing home tiny bottles of shampoo and lotion. I can report complete success on this resolution. No more small bottles clutter my bathroom.

As for my short list of places I wanted to visit in 2013, I had mixed success. If you read my column, you know I made it to Hawaii. We had a great two-week trip to two islands, Oahu and Maui. We also had a fantastic, unexpected trip to Sicily, Italy. We made several trips to California to see our daughter, including a nostalgic visit to Disneyland. We visited our first, and probably last, all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. We went to Sarasota, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. Vancouver, British Columbia was a great stop. And then there was all the travel in Michigan.

I didn’t get to Yellowstone National Park, however, and I didn’t drive through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both of those will stay on the list for this year.

Here’s my 2014 resolutions:

  1. Pack lightly.

  2. Exercise while traveling, without fail.

  3. Be prepared and be patient when traveling. Delays and frustration seem to be permanent travel companions. Take a deep breath, read a good, long book, drink a bottle of water, and eat some healthy snacks.

  4. Avoid food on airplanes and fast food on the highway—always more calories than you need and rarely healthy food. Pack nuts and dried fruits.

  5. Leave for the airport with enough time to avoid that mad, stress-producing dash through security and the concourse.

And on the travel bucket list for this year, I have a mix of new and old:

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Prague in the Czech Republic.

  2. Get back to the Florida Keys.

  3. Visit Yellowstone or Yosemite or any one of our fabulous National Parks.

  4. Make that driving trip through the Upper Peninsula and stand on Brockway Mt. Drive in Copper Harbor to watch the sunset.

  5. Spend some time on Michigan’s other coastline along Lake Huron.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” As I’ve learned through all my years of travel to interesting places in Michigan, around the United States and the world, the destination is not really as important as the journey. The journey is really about time spent with good friends and family, laughing, eating well and making new memories. The people you are with, not the things that you see or do, make the best memories. By the grace of God, I’ll let you know this time next year if I’ve kept my resolutions. Happy New Year to all!

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