September 01, 2013

Confessions of a Travel Addict

Thomas C. Warren

I can’t tell you how many people on a daily basis ask either Mary Ann or me, “Have you been on any good trips lately?” Surprisingly, we really don’t spend a lot of the year traveling. We just seem to go often. We have never been travelers who take off in the winter for four or five months to Arizona; never had a desire to own a second home in Palm Springs; never (God forbid!) had any desire to own and drive a humongous 40-foot, quarter-million-dollar motorhome—you know, the ones that sit for 335 days a year in your driveway and should require a special license for old geezers with poor reaction time and require more strenuous testing than a commercial driver’s license!

So, just how do you get a reputation for being what I would call a “travel addict?” It all starts with becoming anxious when you do not have some trip planned. In order to calm the addiction, you really need to become a travel planner. Putting together the potential adventure, at least in my mind, is often as much fun as the travel. Mary Ann says every good marriage has a travel planner and beautiful travel companion. Get going by buying the guidebooks, search the destinations on the Internet, talk to others who have visited there, chat with travel agents (even if you book it yourself on the Web), read travel literature, and then put together the plan!

Of course, for a plan you need to select where you would like to travel in the world (or just in the good old United States). Most people who get somewhat senior put together a “bucket list.” Long before that term became so popular, I was developing a list in my head as to some of the neat places I would like to visit. Then pick one! Do some research, buy some travel magazines like Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, International Travel, National Geographic Traveler, or Budget Travel, to mention a few. Decide how long you want to be gone and how much you want to spend.

I have always been considered a frugal traveler, and I enjoy finding a good deal when I can. This started out in earnest when I realized I could not get away from the court for long periods of time, thus limiting our travel to 10 days or two weeks. I found that there are companies that cater to this need (e.g. www.gotoday.com or www.gate1travel.com). Travel agents also have vendors that specialize in such short trips and offer, for example, a week in London, Paris, Rome, or Ireland.

It is amazing that many people don’t explore beyond going to Disney World or Las Vegas, and I am always stunned when I hear how few Americans have a passport. When discussing travel costs, it surprises me how much you can spend on going to Orlando, Anaheim or Las Vegas. Often I find that various trips to Europe or Central America can be done for less money! Packaged trips that combine airfare, hotel, and maybe a half-day city tour can be very reasonable. Also, these days, cruises are a great way to explore in such places as the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Travel agents have available incredible bargains using the cruise ships for your vacation.

So how often does the “Travel Addict” travel? We try to get outside the United States two or three times a year, and to enjoy a couple of long weekends to our favorite cities in the States. To enjoy our retirement fun, we will get away in the winter for four or five weeks, usually to a different destination each year. To learn more about the Third World, we have visited San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (three times); Panama City, Panama; Oaxaca, Mexico; and all of New Zealand. Next year, we will take a humanitarian trip to Rwanda in Africa, which will be followed by a safari in Kenya and Tanzania, with a wrap-up for a couple of weeks in Cape Town, South Africa. Hmm . . . maybe our travel these days is not so very frugal!

We’re now at 53 countries and counting. But I do sometimes receive a bad time from my friends when they find out that Luxembourg was a gas stop and we stopped at McDonald’s in Andorra.

Next time you see me, ask me if I am really addicted to travel. Oh—but you might have to wait to see me until after our summer cruise in the Baltic, which will then be followed by a drive around Northern Wales.

Thomas C. Warren

Thomas C. Warren (tmawarren@broadstripe.net), retired judge of the Chelan County District Court in Wenatchee, Washington, mostly resides in Chelan, Washington, unless he’s somewhere else in the world.