Although I have friends who have completely discarded the exercise of making resolutions at this time of year, I still find that hanging a new calendar on the wall (sometimes you just gotta see that whole month on paper) is a practice that begs introspection. I like to think about where I’ve been and where I might be going.
I do know where I’ve been; I’m not sure about where the coming year may take me. And while some find this cause for anxiety, I find it a bit exciting. I like to think of the possibilities.
For many years, my family has had to plan ahead and navigate around school and employment schedules. Now we have arrived at a time when these factors are less important and it feels good. But it’s still fun to plan a bit and at least make a wish list of destinations and some goals about how to get there.
At the top of my list is Botswana.
I’ve researched Africa and found that Botswana is noted for its lack of conflict, commitment to the environment (38 percent of its lands are protected), excellent game-viewing and welcoming people (no visas required for U.S. residents).
Botswana also is the setting for Alexander McCall Smith’s “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” a book series that I love.
The author did a lot for putting Botswana on the public’s travel radar, so I’m hoping that, if we go, we won’t see a lot of others like ourselves.
Also on the list are Iceland and southern Chile and Argentina.
All three countries appear on recent popular must-see lists, but my incentive has been fired by friends who have been there. It’s mostly the outdoor splendor they describe that has the allure — the mountains, meadows, glaciers, ocean — and the wildlife.
Last on my list, for now, is a road trip through North and South Carolina, Georgia, and perhaps Florida — St. Augustine and the Keys. It’s mostly the history that calls us to these places, as well as a kangaroo preserve. (Stay tuned.) Though I’ve visited all these states before, it’s been a while and there is more to see, including friends and family.
If time permits, I’ll add Washington, D.C.
One goal I’d like to accomplish this year: Learn to pack light.
My dream has always been to travel for weeks with only a backpack and perhaps a purse, but those days may be gone.
I do think I could probably get by with just a carry-on and a backpack. I’ve been researching this, too, and everyone has their packing tricks.
In general, most recommend traveling to someplace warm (summer clothes don’t take up much room); packing lightweight clothes (wash and dry easily) and those with a limited color palate (everything goes with everything). Take items that serve more than one purpose and wear everything twice anyway. Take no more than two pairs of shoes and wear your hikers on the plane.
Leave your jewelry at home, as well as most electronics. The latter can eat up time that you’d otherwise spend exploring, talking to locals or just getting deep into the present — wherever that may be.
E’Louise Ondash is a freelance writer living in North County. Tell her about your travels at eondash@ coastnewsgroup.com
CORRECTION: In my Dec. 23 column, I incorrectly identified the downtown San Diego Public Library (opened in 2013). It is part of the city’s library system, not the county’s library system.
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.