Or rather, people who don’t see behind the scenes (in my head) view my actions as compulsive.
What most people don’t see about me is that I’m a studier. I’m careful. I grapple with issues and search them out, sometimes for years, until seemingly, all at once, I make my move. Until I’m ready to do something I usually don’t talk about doing said thing. Maybe I’m slightly supersitious about that… I’ve heard that if you want to make God laugh, you tell Him your plans.
My faith is a huge part of my life. Travel is a very personal, spiritual and faith-building thing for me. I’ve witnessed miracles, large and small and innumerable Tender Mercies at many junctures during my wanderings.
And to a point, I’ve found that quote above to be true. But only to a point. I don’t believe I should tell God anything, instead I ask. And He answers, in His own time and His own way. He wants us all to be happy.
Choosing where and when to travel has always been an interesting process for me. I often have grand schemes for major trips I’d like to take. More than one scheme, more than one place. It’s ALWAYS intimidating to click that “buy ticket” button on a travel website. I’ve definitely had my share of times when I’ve tried to force my way on an itinerary, only to have it end up costing me quite a lot of money, time and resources. I hope that by now I’ve learned to listen to that little voice, call it your gut, or juju or spirituality, whatever you’d like… but when something is off, I feel unsettled. I can never tell exactly why. Sometimes I never find out why. Other times I do. I’ve felt it while trying to book my last TWO big trips.
The first such experience: I was planning my trip to Egypt/Jordan/Malta/Italy. I’d determined to go on a certain date in the spring of 2010. The date worked really nicely with my work schedule and the tour I wanted to take in Egypt/Jordan. The thing is, when push came to shove, I couldn’t pull the trigger and book anything. I had what people of my faith sometimes call a “stupor of thought.” So I went back and worked the calendar again and came up with a plan to leave one week later. This time, everything clicked. I booked my tour, flights, insurance, hotels, etc for a very complex and rigorous travel schedule all over two-day period. (Obviously I’d been searching out routes, etc. for months beforehand). It just worked. When my travel dates drew near, a crazy thing happened: A certain unpronounceably-named volcano Iceland began to erupt, disrupting flights, trains and travel all over Europe. The flight I had originally wanted to take, SFO >LHR had been canceled, as had most and then ALL travel in/out of London. People were stuck for weeks. I nervously watched the news and travel schedules as the volcano continued to erupt for days and days. But I also felt, very matter of-factly, that I’d be going on my trip. The day of my flight to London, I showed up at the airport. The volcano had stopped erupting the night before and the skies had cleared. My flight was among the first to actually fly after the eruption and my entire trip went off without a hitch.
The Second: In 2011, while planning my escapade across Turkey and Greece, I had a similar experience. I went a week later than I’d originally intended. And it made all the difference. I won’t go into specifics on this one, because they’re very personal, but my experience would have been completely different the week prior.
What does any of that have to do with the here and now and being compulsive?
Since 2009 I’ve had a wild hair that’s stuck in my brain: I want to go to Israel in 2012. You know, end of the Mayan calendar and all. Just for fun. But as the year has progressed, I just didn’t see how I could make it work. I’m saving for my big 6-month sabbatical in Europe (next year) and already had made plans for a couple inexpensive, low-key trips to keep me on track with my savings plan. I’ll be heading to Virginia in a couple of weeks to spend time on the family farm. In late August/Early September, my sister is going to be having twins and I’ll take a week-ish off to help her out, and I was planning to go and visit a friend in Bonaire over the Thanksgiving break.
I just didn’t see how I could make Israel work too, timing-wise or budget-wise. Last year I priced out a trip to Israel and it would have cost nearly $4k for one week!
So yesterday I saw a tweet from a fellow traveler about how fares to Israel are really low right now. I checked it out, and low and behold: the dates I could go in November were actually CHEAPER than flying to Bonaire.
What do you think I did? Within four hours I had found a friend to split the cost of accomodations with me and booked that flight. We found her a flight from DC for $711 that arrives an hour after mine at TLV.
This all happened yesterday. Less than four hours from idea to execution. But more than three years from inception to execution. Timing is really everything.
I’m thrilled with this. Truthfully, I can’t believe it really happened. The trip is booked. And in fact, what I’ll pay for my flight + accomodations (thanks to airbnb) is still nearly $300 less than my flight would have been to Bonaire.
All in all, minus food and any tours, I’m only spending around $980 for my flight and two weeks’ accommodations in the heart of Jerusalem.
Now we’ll see what happens in the next few months. Syria is volatile right now. As is Egypt. Israel has always been. If all goes well, I’ll be exploring the holy land in November.
Have you ever experienced something similar in your travels/life?