“He/She loves me … He/She loves me not!” Accompanied by the plucking of flower petals, this romantic exercise continues until all the petals are gone and the fate of one’s love interest is resolved favorably … or another flower is selected in a classic case of “seeking a second opinion!”
I sometimes wonder if a similar routine is employed by TCC members in choosing a destination or itinerary for “the next trip.” Not that our contest would ever involve such an option as “I should travel … I should travel not,” for the lure of the road is beyond question.
But where to go?
Realize, of course, that our dilemmas are not those of the occasional traveler. For most North Americans, the chance to take a Caribbean cruise, explore the historic cities of Europe or lounge on the beaches of Hawaii would be an offering quickly accepted without much hesitation, often as “the trip of a lifetime!”
Full Disclosure: I’ve done all three in the last couple of years and I’m not “too well traveled” to have enjoyed each of them! In fact, some 65 TCC members from five countries celebrated our club’s 60th Anniversary with a round-trip weekend cruise from Los Angeles to Ensenada, Mexico, in late October. I doubt if many of us earned a “new country” but we all had a blast!
And therein rests the perplexing problem: Should I go have a great adventure somewhere I’ve never been (and thus add to my own “country count”) or should I go back to a place I truly love and could visit over and over again? Remember what Samuel Johnson said about his own capital city, “… when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Don’t we each have our own place just like that?
Most of the world’s people will never visit 100 countries and will still be perfectly satisfied with the travels that they did achieve. We TCCers, on the other hand, usually have traveled for a variety of reasons, counted up our countries one day, somehow found this wonderful organization filled with people just like us … and joined. It is not to be expected that we would somehow quit!
This, in turn, produces the debate: should we travel just to accumulate new nations or should we primarily travel for the joy of the journey or the delight of the destination? Of course, we still acknowledge those who venture beyond the baseline: that’s why we recognize and honor our Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond members.
It’s easy to smirk somewhat condescendingly at globetrotters who race across borders like Wile E. Coyote, collecting more passport stamps than memories. On the other hand, we should honestly ask ourselves: how many of those strange, new places might we have visited if the TCC Country List had not been there to entice us in the first place? And isn’t that the real benefit of The List – to give us an incentive to experience new places and peoples by dangling the carrot of “new levels” to shake us out of our complacent routine?
So, as we approach the end of the year and, perhaps, make some New Year’s Travel Resolutions, I trust that whether we combine the Country List along with our own “spirit of accomplishment” to discover someplace new or guiltlessly listen to the lure of our favorites (the Trevi Fountain coin toss has always worked for me!) we will continue our joy of worldwide travel.
My wish for each of you is Happy Holidays and Happy Trails!