[COLUMN] The bucket list: The world is your oyster — go travel

[Select a handful of those things in your bucket list that have the highest chance of coming to fruition given your time frame. In tech speak, it means before your life’s energy goes into ‘ low batt mode’ and life has run out of sockets to plug into.]

Life is, indeed, “a moveable feast” to borrow verbiage from Hemingway. Travel makes it so. Do it while you can. DO IT NOW.

The pandemic and its Gordian knot of insane and inane restrictions on movement and life showed us how travel and the freedom to move about are so essential to human life.

With everything pretty much put on hold while the world sheltered in place at home caused by that man-made virus from China that wrecked economies, plans and human lives everywhere, the future of human life will clearly not be jeopardized by nuclear power but by stealthy, diabolical biological warfare such as this. This pandemic is a mild test run for what could yet come about in the future. But enough of that…

For now, pandemic restrictions are easing up in many states and some parts of the world. Thank God for that!

There are now two classes of people: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated made apparent by mask mandates, optional for those fully vaccinated and obligatory for those who aren’t, for the time being.

Oxygen is still free so breathe in as much of it as you can now that you are without masks. Just make sure the air quality in your area is good.

Those with the itch to travel are chomping at the bit to scratch that itch. Airlines will try to make up for lost time. Of course, there will always be forces countering the surge back to normalcy like rising gas prices, economic uncertainty and of course, the usual geopolitical shenanigans by the powers-that-be.

Travel companies, airlines and tourist destinations starved for revenue from free-spending tourists for the last year and a half are rolling out the red carpet with hard-to-resist enticements to get back their market share.

I ask friends at random what is on the top tier of their personal bucket list. A consistent response is that they want to travel — to see the world —whether the world as their oyster, is local or global:  just their city, their state, the length and breadth of their native land, or the world at large.

One friend said that she and her family have been to 22 of the states in the US and would very much like to go visit all 50 states. This is at the top of her bucket list. Another said that she would like to travel to Europe except she could not find the time while she is still working. There are those who list the Via Dolorosa in the Holy Land and would like to take the time to travel to pilgrimage sites: Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal, Medjugorje in Bosnia and other sites where the Blessed Mother has appeared to children.

The Grand Canyon is a sight to behold. The Great Wall of China is a must-see. Hongkong rocks and Palawan beckons. Bali says hi. What’s up with Cambodia’s Angkor Wat?

Among the Japanese where the love of nature is deep, one of the more popular trips among the very hip, is to experience, at least once in their lifetimes, braving the freezing temperatures in the Arctic regions to witness first hand the dancing, mesmerizing Northern lights, the Aurora Borealis.  To them, it is a sort of spiritual experience. I’m a warm-blooded creature so I’ll take their word for it and experience the Northern lights vicariously.

Then there are those who have been permanently bitten by the travel bug and have accumulated travel mileage to circle the moon and back.

A married couple I know have made it a point to travel extensively and have visited more than 50 countries thus far, making it a point to spend the Christmas holiday season in a different country every year.

They travel light  (perhaps the first rule of travel) and have become savvy on the art and science of world travel: planning in advance, budgeting, dealing with foreign currency, being aware of the local culture, booking planes and trains and arranging transport, choosing hotels and navigating their way in strange countries. Their experiences over the years can fill a travelogue but they go for the sheer love of adventurous travel, having gone to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas in Peru and other exotic destinations.

There are 3 things required for travel. These include health, time and money.  You need to be in relatively good health to have the stamina for the rigors posed by walking, hefting luggage, prepping and being on your toes for activities and the stresses that come with travel.

Particularly post 9/11, travel has become so tiresome because of tight security measures to counter terrorism. The second factor, especially for those who are still working for a living, is finding the time to squeeze travel in the limited amount of vacation days.

The third factor is, of course, probably easier than the first two — finding the money required to fund travel. If still employed, then you can still make the money to fund the trip. Depending on the destination and the duration chosen, travel can require very little money or a lot of it.

The most basic of travel gear is a good pair of broken-in walking shoes. Your feet will love you for it.

While you can travel alone, it is certainly much more fun and safer, if you go with a traveling companion who shares your spirit of fun.

If you are straddling the issue of whether to travel or not and you have at least 2 of the 3 basic requirements, I say, GO FOR IT, while you can still walk on two feet and have good eyesight and in relatively good health. If this is important to you, don’t hesitate. You can perhaps wangle the time, save the money or charge it to your credit card and pay it down later.

But if one has serious health challenges that require being close to a medical facility, it can be a bit tricky to pull this off as part of your bucket list. It is still possible to travel even if wheelchair-bound or if one uses a walker or a cane, but the level of difficulty for yourself and your companions will be a tad higher. Still, it may be worth a try. As in any circumstance, the mind can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.

A lot of people wait for retirement age to do this because there is available time and more often than not, there is expendable money for travel. The problem in many cases, is that when the time comes, there may be health challenges to contend with

But who says one has to travel far in order to check this off from our bucket list?   You can certainly explore the wonders in your own backyard or in your own neck of the woods.

If you live in California, the possibilities for day trips and short trips are endless. Become a tourist in your own backyard and explore places like there is no tomorrow. There are mountains, deserts, coastlines, forests and campgrounds to explore. There are observatories, museums, restaurants parks and trails to discover. The truth is, we are only limited by our own sense of adventure. There are so many places that can be explored everywhere around the world but it is probably wise to start where we are right now.

Or we can experience things vicariously as we read about travel adventures or watch travel shows or even surf through the internet with the travel guru Rick Steves.

But if life gives you the chance to physically travel and the spirit of adventure is in you, just do it. Getting there is half the fun; being there with all your senses engaged in the moment is the other half.

The best thing about any kind of travel, local, domestic or international, is that it opens our eyes to the richness of our life here on earth. Yup, there is an embarrassment of riches right where we are. We just need to open our eyes and see and take it all in.

Travel widens our horizons and broadens our understanding of human nature. We become aware of people of every stripe, color and persuasion. Above all, we learn to take nothing for granted. We become truly grateful.

We come home appreciating our awfully tiny place in the universe and realize how blessed and fortunate we are to be part of all these. Don’t do it for show to post on social media. Tamp down that pesky ego.

If done in the right spirit, there is something about travel that makes us more deeply thankful of just about everything in a quiet way.

Next week:  Another idea to consider for The Bucket List ….

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications,  Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.

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