As you know if you’ve been reading this site regularly (thanks, mom!), we are planning a trip to the Galapagos in a few weeks. The one thing I keep reading about is how this is a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. To me, this is just code for, “This trip is going to cost double or triple what you’d otherwise want to spend.” Nevertheless, as an evolution enthusiast and a wildlife photography fanatic, the Galapagos is a place I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid.
But it’s that “once-in-a-lifetime” thing that really sticks in my craw. It seems to me the world is a big place, and there are a lot of “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences out there. Even Disneyland uses that sales pitch! But, more than anything, I really don’t like that cliché because it puts pressure on people to need to plan that perfect trip. If you only get a short amount of vacation time, it’s important to make every second count, right? It follows that if you don’t pick the perfect place, it’s all just a waste of time.
In my experience, this leads to decision paralysis. Cassie and I have dealt with this problem ourselves. For our first five years together, we didn’t go anywhere together for more than 2 nights. I remember a long weekend in Sonoma Wine Country, and another in Palm Springs, and that’s it. The reason? We could never agree on where to go. We’d throw out ideas, and that would be followed by research, followed by arguments for and against a place. Every time, the process would end with the trip getting put off.
It wasn’t until an incredible one-day deal on airfare to Europe forced us to make a snap decision to visit somewhere, anywhere, with no planning. “Where do you want to go?” I asked with a forceful tone. “Spain?” Cassie shot back. “Ok, I booked it. We land in Madrid in four months.” Done! I admit I knew almost nothing about Spain (I hadn’t even seen Vicky Christina Barcelona, god forbid!) I just knew that if we didn’t choose quickly, the trip wasn’t happening.
But this is my point… you can have a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience almost anywhere! In Spain, I just so happened to visit the incomparable Alhambra, become addicted to jamon iberico de bellota, and … oh yeah … I also asked Cassie to marry me.
And while you might not get engaged on every vacation, there’s still a great chance that you could end up seeing some remarkable natural beauty, eat some crazy local food, or stumble upon an unbelieveable event.
Your “once-in-a-lifetime” experience doesn’t have to be a big production. It’s really just a matter of stepping out of your front door.
[ Related Post: While I was writing this, Cassie stumbled upon this post about the pressure to plan the perfect trip to Machu Picchu ]