“Low humidity and gusty winds blew the flames in unpredictable directions and prompted a large number of evacuations," CAL Fire officials said.
Responders had reached 5% containment in the rare large January wildfire, and were in an active firefight on Saturday morning, with widespread evacuation notices still in effect for residents in Big Sur, Carmel and other parts of Monterey County.” – Bay Area News Group
I was in utter shock the morning of Saturday, January 22, 2022, when Gigi sent me this Mercury News article about a fire that was raging just south of us. CAL Fire was calling it the Colorado Fire, named for the Colorado Canyon where the fire originated from loose unattended embers, but locals were calling it the Bixby Bridge Fire for the famous bridge on HWY 1 that was in the path of the fire.
Why was this story so shocking to me? After all, I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Forest fires are nothing new, and this one wasn’t threatening our community. Heck, we couldn’t even smell the smoke from this particular fire.
The Bixby Bridge Fire on January 22nd was so shocking to me because on January 21st, Gigi, Pappy, Fabby, Itsy Bitsy and I had just spent a wonderful afternoon in Big Sur. We had driven home, over the Bixby Bridge just after 4 p.m. that day. We drove over that bridge, past that canyon less than an hour before the fire started at 5 p.m. on January 21st, 2022.
Less than 24-hours ago, a place of peace, beauty, serenity, and splendor that we were making plans to visit again in the next few weeks was suddenly threatened by fire. Whoosh. Like that it could all be gone as we had seen happen with Big Basin State Park in the summer of 2020.
Luckily, thanks to the fast response of CAL Fire, 10 days later as I write this post the Colorado Fire or Bixby Bridge Fire is 98% contained, never igniting Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and all roads including HWY 1 and the Bixby Bridge have reopened. But it is a stark reminder that the beauty we hold so dear in nature, the wonder we seek to experience around the world, the places we want to travel to, and destinations we wish to experience may not always be there waiting for us. So…
What are you waiting for?
There are always a million-and-one excuses not to do something. Arguments, reasons, justifications, whatever you want to call it, life always seems to get in the way of the things we really want to be doing. From everyday little things like wanting to spend more time with family and friends to big things like wanting to save more money or go skydiving. But I feel like travel is one of the things people push off the most. I know that’s true for me.
Even in my family with our TRAVELFUL mindset and constantly on-the-go attitudes, it seems like there are a few trips that just keep getting pushed off. There is always a reason, an excuse, a justification for not booking that getaway, for canceling a vacation, for waiting until next year to plan an adventure. Something is always standing in the way.
For example, we canceled a trip to go to Costa Rica with my family in February 2019 because we were worried about the Zika Virus (we were trying to get pregnant but never conceived, in the end Itsy Bitsy is all we need). Then we were hoping 2020 or 2021 might be the year to go to Italy … but we all know what happened to those plans. Fat Papa and I did our honeymoon in the UK back in 2012, but we haven’t been back to the UK or to Europe since. Why?
Life and no sense of urgency.
We get so caught up in our routines, our stress, our daily drudgeries that it is easy to always think of tomorrow as an attainable and tangible goal. But we forget, by definition, tomorrow is always a day away, always in the future, always just outside of our grasp. And sometimes that is what we need to get through today. We need something we can’t quite reach to either keep us going or to know that it is so far away that we don’t have to think about it and can focus only on what is right in front of us.
That might be well and good for the daily grind and our general survival, but if this pandemic and the last few years of forest fire season have taught me anything, it is that we must start living for more than our daily routines. We must start living for the fun, for the now, for the duck of it, let’s just go and do it!
So here are my 5 reasons why you should wake up, snap out of your routine, and start planning your next big adventure. I don’t care if it is visiting your local State Park or taking a trip halfway around the world. The beautiful thing about a TRAVELFUL mindset is that the destination doesn’t matter, it is what you take away from the experience that counts.
Reason 1. Global Warming and Disasters
Like it or not, the Earth is changing. Now, I personally believe the scientists who have been shouting from the rooftops for decades that our world is on fire, and we need to do something about it. But, even if you don’t believe the data, there is no denying that the beauty this world has to offer isn’t going to last forever. And besides, you never know when a 650+ year old Cathedral will suddenly go up in flames due to faulty wiring.
From forest fires burning down 2000+ year old trees in California to hurricanes reshaping the coastlines in Florida to the melting of enormous glaciers in Alaska, this is just the tip of the iceberg of natural beauty lost or changed, no longer available to visitors and tourists in the United States. Every year across the globe animals, habitats, landmarks, unique spectacles of the world are lost, never to be seen again due to both natural and human disasters.
I’m hoping 2023 will be the year we FINALLY make it out to Italy. I desperately want Itsy Bitsy and Fat Papa to see Venice before it sinks and is no longer safe for tourists. The city’s flooding problem is only going to get worse with rising sea levels.
Reason 2. You Aren’t Getting Any Younger
Sure, you are young and fit now, I bet you even have some good years left ahead of you. But how many? What trips, experiences, or vacations are you putting off because you ASSUME you will still be in good shape or excellent health? Have you started your training to hike Mount Kilimanjaro? At what age do you think your knees won’t make it up the steps of Nohoch Mul, the largest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula? Is your mind, even now, sharp enough to navigate the European rail system?
For three years before COVID, Fat Papa and I used the opposite excuse. Not that we would have more time, but that Itsy Bitsy wasn’t old enough. Now of course I look back on that as an excuse of two parents who were overworked, over tired, and had no idea how to travel internationally with a child under the age of 3. Of course, then there is also the justification about spending all that money on a trip that Itsy Bitsy wouldn’t even remember.
I see both of these arguments as being one and the same, and they both come down to one simple, slap-up-side-the-head answer. Unless you are already making big life-transforming changes, I mean currently in process already working towards a specific goal type of changes, then stop putting off travel because “you are still young.” As someone who has experienced an unfair share of “out of the blue” medical conditions, I can tell you from personal experience that your health and mobility are far more elusive than you think.
Also, who cares if your kid isn’t going to remember the trip. YOU will remember the trip. And YOU are ABSOLUTELY worth it!
Reason 3. Finances – You Don’t Have to Break the Bank
First, you should never go into debt to travel. Every corner of this world has amazing places to visit, things to do, and experiences to have if you know how to look for them. That is what having a TRAVELFUL mindset is all about. Read all about it in my blog post What Does Living A Travelful Life Mean?
Second, people use their finances as an excuse all the time as a reason why they cannot travel. I know Fat Papa and I do … money and not enough time off are our top two reasons why we don’t travel more. But that is a crutch of an excuse. Because you know what we also don’t do. We also don’t budget, set savings goals, plan, anticipate, save for a big vacation.
Until we met out financial planner Jerome Burton with Northwestern Mutual, we vacationed and traveled by the seat of our pants. But with Jerome’s help, we have learned to start setting financial travel goals, we created a travel savings account, and we plan our big trips in advance now so that we don’t go into debt to travel, and we have fun anticipating the trip as we save.
Even if you are not able to work with a financial planner (I highly recommend reaching out to ours, Jerome Burton is AMAZING) you can still make use of some of the advice Jerome gave us so finances don’t have to hold you back from travel.
One, create a household budget and stick to it. Make sure travel is one of your line items. Even if you are only saving a few ducks a month for travel, that’s okay. Over time it will add up.
Two, whatever the trip you are saving for, keep reminders of it in front of you. Create a dream board, get a calendar with pictures of your destination, put a post card on your mirror. Anything to keep your goal front and center.
Three, set up a system for “extras” to go into your travel savings account. Be it big extras like a bonus from work or little extras like Venmo transfers. It is fun to see savings grow over time. It is also a reminder of what you have waiting for you when you reach your goal.
Remember, travel finances are all about enjoying the anticipation. Go ahead and plan your ducking heart out. Clip photos out of travel magazines, skip Starbucks once a week and put that money in your travel fund, ask for airline gift certificates for Christmas. It all adds up to a well anticipated adventure.
Fat Mama Tip: Okay, okay, I know not every one is able to save large sums of money for big vacations. I get it. This is why you have to plan, save, and travel smart.
First, plan an adventure that is within your means and attainable. Even if it is a 5-year goal, that's fine, just make sure it is actually attainable. How? Choose a destination or activity that fits your personal budget and financial reality. Then take advantage of every travel deal you can find. Like those in my post Do Budget Travel Sites Actually Save You Money.
Second, set a realistic savings goal and budget. Even if all you can do is collect the spare change from your purse at the end of each week you will be surprised at how it adds up. Plus, if you keep it in a glass jar you will be proud to watch it grow. This is also a fun activity you can do with your kids to start teaching them about saving.
Third, as difficult as it is DO NOT just book the cheapest thing that comes along. Travel smart by, yes looking for deals, but also purchasing tickets or making reservations with good refund policies. This way if you do not meet your savings goal (or if a global pandemic happens) you will get your money back and be able to rebook.
Bonus tip; if you are one of those people who are impossible to shop for at the holidays but people in your family still want to give you gifts, set up a registry or honeymoon page the way people do when they are getting married. This way your friends and family can give you $10 each for your birthday and help cover the cost of your hotel.
Reason 4. Memories to Last a Lifetime
Think about every travel commercial you have ever seen. Whether they say it explicitly or not, what they are selling you is an experience that will “create memories for a lifetime”. But the longer you put off booking your dream vacation or a trip you have been waiting to take, the less likely those memories are ever to happen. And if they do happen, then you have less time to enjoy those memories.
When I think about all the places I want to go with Itsy Bitsy, all the experiences I want my family to have, all the amazing things I want us to see, I get very caught up in this idea of memory. I want to have these memories. I want to be old and grey and able to look back on a life well-traveled and remember all these amazing things I did with my family.
I love creating “fake memories” about things we will do someday. It can be fun to get ahead of yourself and start planning a vacation that you know won’t happen for years to come. But why won’t it happen for years to come? If it’s because you are working towards saving up for that big trip, great, that is all well and good, but now you need to find other ways in daily life to make TRAVELFUL memories.
From stopping at roadside stands, to ostrich farms, to county fairs, to beach days, to snow days, to whatever your community has to offer ... everyday has the opportunity to be TRAVELFUL without being a full-blown trip or vacation. Everyday has the opportunity for you to create memories to last a lifetime.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying that it is your responsibility to create lifelong memories EVERYDAY. No ducking way am I saying that. I’m just saying that travel memories can happen any day, anywhere. You don’t have to be on a planned vacation, though if getting to hold onto those memories longer is what gets you to book that vacation, then I’m glad for you!
Reason 5. The Unknown
This is the scary one. The unknown. Life has no crystal ball. There is no way to predict the future. It doesn’t matter how much planning you do, how much you save, how healthy you are. Tomorrow is utterly unpredictable.
So, book that trip. Plan that vacation. You aren’t getting any younger. Your kids are old enough. You look great in that bikini. Life will always be crazy. There will never be enough money or time off. But worst off all … you never know what tomorrow is going to bring, or if it will come at all.
Plan your next adventure and go DUCKING DO IT!
Keep Calm and Quack On!