This week, I’m starting a four-week road trip from Austin, Texas, to Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona. It will be my longest trip in nearly a year.
After three years of nearly nonstop travel, I felt a need to catch my breath. I was road-weary.
I rented an apartment in Columbus, my first “permanent” residence since 2014. I emptied my storage locker and found things I forgot I owned. I even bought a car.
Most importantly, I reconnected with family and friends. And thought about what is next.
My new plan is to take a few shorter trips each year, maybe three or four, each perhaps a few weeks long.
I’ll start this winter in the southwest United States for the third straight year.
In the fall, I will tour the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. (Please see the 2018 itinerary here.) More trips may be added to the 2018 schedule.
Now seems like an appropriate time to answer the three questions about my recent three-year adventure I am asked most:
Q. Were you afraid to travel in Europe?
A. No. While many Americans don’t like to acknowledge the statistics, one is at least twenty times more likely to die by gunfire in the United States than in western Europe. On the other hand, Europe experiences more terrorist bombings.
So, take your pick.
Regardless, I enjoy traveling in less populated areas where mass attacks rarely occur. I am no more afraid to travel in Europe than in the United States
Q. Didn’t you get lonely traveling alone?
A. Yes, but I didn’t want it to be an obstacle to having experiences. The advantage of solo travel is that you can do whatever you want on your own schedule. The disadvantage is that you have no one with whom to share the moments.
On occasion, friends have tagged along with me for a few days at a time. Most special was the week my daughter joined me in Cyprus.
And I’ve been fortunate to make a few new friends along the way.
I’ve maintained contact with fellow Americans who were tour-mates in Sicily and the Caribbean, an English couple I met at a B&B overlooking a deer park in Scotland, a folk singer I met at the Edinburgh Festival, and trad musicians who invited me to join them in the pubs of County Donegal three nights running.
Social media has helped make staying in touch with family and friends, both old and new, easier.
Surprisingly, during my travels, I saw my kids more often than when I resided full-time in Columbus. They live and work in Chicago, which I use as a hub for flying to and from Europe. I simply added weeks before and after each trip in order to spend time with them.
Q. What is the favorite place you visited in Europe?
A. Different people enjoy different aspects of travel—art, history, food, scenery, shopping. I immersed myself in all of it. Well, except for the shopping.
However, beyond the must-see castles, cathedrals, and museums, I prefer small villages and remote landscapes.
So my answer is a tie between five stunningly beautiful and mostly pristine areas:
• Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland
• West coast of Norway (fjord country)
• Anywhere in Iceland outside of Reykjavik
• Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland
• Shetland Islands of Scotland
I hope to add some new favorites to the list this year.