“Now Hiring: Candidate wanted to take a $1 million trip around the world — for free. The applicant will spend a year eating at the finest restaurants, sleeping at five-star hotels and enjoying the world’s most elite nightclubs and resorts. Applicants should love good food, fine culture and ‘exceeding extravagance.’ Ability to is a plus. Couples can also apply.”
If this offer seems too good to be true, it isn’t. This is an honest-to-goodness job ad, funded by luxury vacation companies. Upon further reading though, I find that I’m under-qualified. I don’t have the “discerning taste” they are looking for. “The ideal candidate would be well-versed in the world of high-end hotels, restaurants and experiences and be able to immediately tell a 1978 DRC from a 2001 Lafite.” Wrong gal here, that’s for sure. I’m not sure if they are referring to wines, jets, or poodles. Either way, I definitely don’t qualify. Years of traveling with 460 air conditioning (you know, all 4 windows open going at 60 mph) in a burgandy 1984 Chevy Caprice Classic with 1 purple door, wandering from campsite to campsite until we found an open one, have made me a traveler with very low expectations. We drive back home to Michigan over 1500 miles every summer, and instead of being horrified, I am amused and impressed by the ingenuity when I find the stack of paperbacks jammed under my motel bed to keep it rock-solid steady.
Growing up, our family vacations always seemed spontaneous and unplanned. For 4 kids in the back seat, sometimes that made for long journeys as reservations were not made in advance and campsites would fill up. I vowed that my life would be different once I grew up. When we were planning our low-budget honeymoon, I began by researching all the places that could be seen, listing dates and matching them up with locations. Because I love to travel so much, I never want to miss anything. My husband quickly dissuaded me from the idea of a honeymoon with an itinerary. I kept the list in the back of my head, though, just in case we might need it. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Instead of rushing from place to place trying to check things off my list, we let each day unfold like the present it is supposed to be, and every day was an adventure. Did we see everything I thought we should see? Not by a long shot, but even as short and low-budget as our honeymoon was, I re-learned a valuable lesson. Family vacations had never been about getting to a particular place, but about being with one another, sharing that journey, and discovering things together. Like the time we happened upon a pond in the middle of a forest. Since we didn’t know it was there, of course we didn’t have fishing permits or fishing poles. Instead, I learned that my dad was pretty good at making fishing poles with branches and some string using his pocket knife, and my mom could find wild herbs that made the first fish we’d ever caught taste pretty darn good. I don’t think we’d still be talking about that trip if we had come prepared with fishing poles.
So I won’t be applying for the million dollar trip around the world. Not just because I can’t tell the difference between a 5 star and a 4 star hotel, but because it has never mattered to me so long as I have my family or friends with me. However, if anyone is in need of a travel writer who comes with an open mind, 3 kids, and a husband who can fix anything, feel free to give me a call. We’ll be the ones arriving in a rusty Ford pickup, with all 4 windows open to the wind.
Today I am thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to travel with family and friends, for a fabulous honeymoon with a guy who is as open to adventure as I am (as long as we can get there in a timely fashion), and for kids who are great travelers.
If you have had a trip that didn’t work out as planned, or a travel story that was an adventure, I’d love to hear them. Please share them in the comments section.