For my birthday last year, my partner gifted me a world map to put up on the wall alongside my U.S. map. My U.S. map is well-worn and dog-eared at the edges from years of being folded up, consulted, highlighted and tossed into the passenger seat on all of my road trips — three cross-country trips so far between San Francisco and New York City along three different routes, and countless other intra-state and cross-state journeys. I bring my U.S. map with me whenever I’m on the road, highlighting my routes as I travel them. But I’ve yet to do a similarly well-marked jaunt across oceans and international time zones. “Maybe you can start expanding your map,” my partner said when I opened his gift.
I didn’t think much of it right away. But a few months ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning and the first thing my eyes landed on was the world map on the wall next to the bed. And the thought immediately following consciousness was, “We should do a round-the-world trip.”
When I land on an exciting idea, I tend to start doing stuff about it right away; my initiatives are spontaneous and full-throttle, my follow-through a little less so. A lot less so. So even though I’m in no position, financially or logistically, to embark on a round-the-world trip for a year (I decided that a year is the minimum amount of time necessary to really do it right), that very morning I hopped onto the Star Alliance website and spent two gleeful hours making possible itineraries and emailing them to myself. San Francisco to Reykjavik? Addis to Mumbai? Would it be possible to make it down to New Zealand? What if we sacrificed Iceland in favor of adding a leg to Johannesburg? Oooooh, or what if we did an entirely Southern Hemisphere trip and then an entirely Northern Hemisphere trip? Do we need TWO round-the-world trips? How can it be that one trip around the world is NOT ENOUGH OF THE WORLD?!
I probably could have spent a whole day piddling around on that website, but fortunately I had non-hypothetical things to attend to.
Of course, the next day I broke out my travel books and started a Google Doc of global destinations, broken down into categories: CITIES/COUNTRIES, ROAD TRIPS/TRAINS, TREKS, ATTRACTIONS, CALENDAR OF EVENTS, and RESOURCES. Somehow, during my research, U.S. destinations also made their way into my list. Is it possible to go from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Burning Man to Diwali in India on a round-the-world trip? No, it is not, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not going into my Google Doc. INTO THE GOOGLE DOC YOU GO.