Take The Trip
By Holly Wren Wren International
The 2020 New Year found me carefully nominating focus words to center my thoughts and energies towards this year. After much deliberation, my spotlight word of choice was ‘Pause’. Yes, Pause! Unbeknownst to me, I was only two months shy of experiencing the greatest pause I may ever know, perhaps one of the greatest the world will ever know. A pause that has literally grounded all.
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of the past months, I have recognized a calm that accompanies a slower pace and simply acknowledge the abundance that has and continues to surround me. Family time without distraction is what I cherish most and hope to recall from this time for years to come.
With nothing but time on my hands, I often reflect on how lucky I am to have traveled so extensively. I feel so much gratitude for each of those experiences and the memories that coincide. This peculiar time in our world would have me realize that travel as I’ve known it is not a guarantee and I am grateful that I took advantage of every opportunity to travel. More importantly, I did it with the people I love. Yes, in those moments where something is taken away, we are reminded of how much we need and desire it most.
The world is slowly opening to us again. One thing more apparent than ever, and my advice to all is this: Don’t wait to take the trip. As an industry veteran with 27 years of curating itineraries, I have yet to hear a client complain about the time or money spent on a trip after returning. What I do hear is how they wish they had taken the trip sooner or taken trips more frequently. I hear that they are glad they took the extra time to do this or spent the extra money to do that. Time and money will come and go but travel stays with you forever.
Years ago when Christmas lost a sprinkle of its magic, we decided to give our girls the gift of travel instead of things. In the early years, we kept the location a surprise. We would wrap one gift for them to open Christmas morning, something of a clue as to where we would be going. Afterward, we would pack our bags and head to the airport for a Christmas Day departure. As they’ve grown older, they don’t appreciate the surprise (i.e. last-minute packing) of it so much and we now plan the trip together. As their gift to our family, each of them plans one day of the itinerary. Some of the memorable days planned were a Beatles-themed tour (Abbey Road inclusive!) of London planned by my music obsessed daughter and another was a morning spent planting coral in Moorea (in the South Pacific) which was planned by my environmentally conscious newlyweds. My girls aren’t able to recall all of the presents they received over the years, but they remember every one of the Christmas trips we took as a family…gifts that cannot be grown tired of or worn out.
16th Birthday in Iceland
Another tradition we implemented as our girls grew older was on their 16th birthday they got to plan and take a trip alone with their Dad. When they graduated from high school, they would plan a trip to take with me. We found ourselves having dinner on the Seine near the Eiffel Tower in Paris with our oldest and hiking the ancient ruins of Acropolis in Athens with our youngest. One summer, a 16th birthday and high school graduation happened simultaneously. Our girls were halfway around the world from each other trying to decide which water was the clearest; diving the turquoise warm waters of Bora Bora or snorkeling in a dry suit between tectonic plates in Iceland. Maybe more important than the trip itself, I recall conversations with each of them that may never have happened had we not been removed from familiar surroundings and circumstances…the gift of our travels given to me.
AS 2020 HAS NOT- SO-GENTLY REMINDED US, TOMORROW IS NOT PROMISED. THE ONLY THING WE EVER REALLY OWN IS OUR MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES.
As for my husband and I, our favorite travel tradition is planning a trip each year to a place that neither of us has been (which is becoming more difficult, him having traveled to 126 countries and 84 countries for me). There is something renewing and exciting in experiencing a city or country together for the first time. Having to navigate and discover together teaches us all over again about ourselves and each other. Another unexpected gift that comes from travel.
As 2020 has not-so-gently reminded us, tomorrow is not promised. The only thing we ever really own is our memories and experiences. So when you can’t decide if you should plan that trip or wait until next year, remember this: You have 18 summers with your children, one high school graduation with your baby, one 25th wedding anniversary to celebrate with your partner. Whether it’s a road trip nearby or a short flight to the ocean shores, you’ll never regret going, but you’ll always regret not going. Don’t wait. Take the trip!