2013: Our Year of the Suitcase

Last New Year’s Eve, Mike and I didn’t clink champagne glasses and say “let’s spend too much money on travel in 2013.” But we might as well have. Taking a family from New York to Japan would throw off anyone’s finances, but add the debut of a book and related conferences to promote said book, a travel blogger conference in Toronto, the end of our 10-year-old Honda Accord (and purchase of a newish car to replace that Accord), two weeks in California, two trips to Montreal in the same year, and a Christmas in another time zone, and, well, the math speaks for itself.

Yet, I feel extraordinarily lucky, and look back at 2013 with a huge smile on my face. I started running 5ks and am running one in Papago Park tomorrow morning. I began a novel. I swam outdoors in Montreal while snow fell over the city. I celebrated my 40th birthday in Japan and walked through blowing pink cherry blossoms along Kyoto’s Philosophers Walk, an image I will take to the grave. I returned to California for another summer respite from East Coast angst. I returned to Toronto after an 18-year hiatus. And last week, I attended the Christmas Eve Mass and bonfires in Taos, New Mexico, which made me choke up because it was one of the most beautiful, heartfelt events I had ever attended. I am ringing in the new year in Phoenix with a friend who has been my friend since we met at an airport 20 years ago. The bank account is low, but the heart is full.

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It would be fun to repeat such extraordinary trips in 2014, but we’re not rich, so this coming year will be the year of this alleged travel diet I keep talking about, yet no one seems convinced, not even me (though I am going to try very, very hard to not book trips). We’ll focus more on microadventures around New York City, and do a mix of returning to favorite places like the Catskills, with one new locale thrown in to keep us on our toes (because we get bored quickly); I’m attending the Iceland Writers Retreat in April, and am bringing my posse along so we can all experience Reykjavik, its sheep and all of Iceland’s volcano- and glacier-carved landscape splendor together. Iceland will be the only jaunt requiring a passport in 2014; the rest of the time we’ll be hovering near the homestead. For 2015, I already have my eye on Italy, Costa Rica and swimming with wild pigs in the Bahamas. So yeah, my 2014 travel resolution to travel less will be a challenge, but have faith. I’m willing to stick to the plan just out of spite!

Happy new year, everyone, and safe travels!

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