While I love my Canadian city, I can hardly wait to go someplace else. As often as possible. Especially in the wintertime. Not to live, mind you; just to visit.
As I sit here in minus 30 degree temperatures, swirling snow banking into huge white drifts against my front door, my car, and my emotions, I yearn for the friendly Down Under temperatures of the places from which I have just returned.
Down Under (Australia and New Zealand), being located in the Southern Hemisphere, is currently experiencing its summer (January), with warm sunny days, and bright blue skies. While here in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, our bright blue skies are usually accompanied by blood-freezing temperatures, well below anything most people can even comprehend.
Cold weather is a good reason for travelling – just ask the Canadian “snowbirds” that migrate to the warmer climes of California, Florida, and Arizona every fall (they even have their own website). But then I travel in the summertime, too, when temperatures are very comfortable.
Because without travel I think I would die, or at least become very ill. And I am not alone in that disease.
I am often asked how one becomes a “professional traveler.” I don’t believe one does “become” such an entity; I believe either you are a traveler, or you aren’t. It has nothing to do with available time, or income; it has to do with something deeply-entrenched in your soul. It’s that same thing that drove ancient explorers to leave solid land and venture out into the vast oceans, in search of the unknown. I tell people that had I been born several hundred years ago, I would have pretended to be a man, just to get onboard one of those explorer ships.
I don’t have to pretend anything today, however; I just need both the time and money enabling me to get the heck out of here. But a shortage of those things never stands in the way of a true sojourner. That’s what home equity loans are for! (My husband and I use ours frequently; it allows us to grab travel deals we otherwise might not be able to afford.) But again, being a professional traveler has nothing to do with income.
I have met many professional travelers, some draped in jewels and expensive luggage, their fingers encrusted in diamonds; some with nary a dime to their name. One such seemingly hapless lad was sitting on the cobblestones near the tracks, in the Dunedin, NZ railway station. When I stopped to ask him where he was going, he replied simply, “I don’t know. I’m just going.” As a kindred spirit, I knew exactly what he meant. Have backpack, will travel.
New Zealand and Australia are two countries that cater to both the well-heeled, and the budget-conscious traveler, like the backpacker. I was stunned to see how many cities and towns have hotels, hostels, transportation, and specials geared especially to the backpacker or low-budget traveler. Many websites are geared to making your low budget travel adventure perfect, regardless of your age. Many seniors rough it around in the Down Under countries, too.
But alas, I must catch up with my day-to-day committments first — deadlines must be met, classes taught, grandchildren visited, and promises kept before I head out on my next great adventure (I am going to try my hand at deep sea fishing off the coast of Texas).
And then after that?
Maybe a South Africa safari. Or a trip to see Right whales near South America. Or maybe a river cruise up the Amazon. Or…well, who knows? Just so long as it’s someplace – that isn’t here.