Over the years I have accumulated what seems like a ton of stuff. Greeting cards, keepsakes, certificates and other items are all kept in boxes and storage containers between my mom’s place and mine. Gradually I find myself disposing of certain items, their importance diminishing as time progresses. Do I really need to hold onto that perfect attendance button? Exactly. Toss that joker. There are other items that, regardless of time, will always retain their value in my eyes.

This is one of them.

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This globe was my first major purchase in life. Yes, my FIRST! One day my mother and her two sisters were furniture store hopping, a past time in which they indulged often during my younger years. I ABSOLUTELY hated going with them but at 8 years old how many other choices did I have? Plus, I loved hanging out with my mom and her sisters who made me feel as if I was my grandmother’s fourth daughter. However, these furniture store days were the worst for me. I’d often bring a book or comic book along to occupy my time as they “ooed” and “ahed” over Duncan Phyfe styled cabinetry or dining room chairs with Queen Anne legs.

It was too much for the 2nd grade me.

But one day we entered a store containing an item which caught my eye. I was fascinated with maps: old maps, new maps, colonial maps, world maps – you name it! I especially liked maps like these but they were pretty expensive in those days. On this particular day I spotted a globe that I didn’t want to walk away from. I asked my mom if I could have it. She explained that if I wanted it then I’d have to use my birthday money to purchase it, to which I swiftly agreed. That day we left with a globe that I thought was just a piece of furniture that I could call my own for the low low price of $52 (we still have the receipt!) but it was so much more.

For years I’ve stared at that globe as I day dream of visiting the places I saw featured on my local public television station. I saw Rick Steves travel through Europe as he talked about “blending in with the locals”. I watched Ian on Globe Trekker go to various parts of Africa, Australia and South America, consistently pushing past conventional comfort zones to experience other cultures. I envied (confession time) Samantha Brown’s visits to some of the best hot spots and plushest hotels in the world on the Travel Channel!

I wanted to go! When would it be my turn?

In 2012, the odds were ever in my favor, allowing me to hit up New York City for the New York Times Travel Show (where I met Adam Richman from the Travel Channel), Chicago and Dallas. In 2013, I was blessed with the chance to experience Africa for the first time with a trip to Nigeria.  Thanks to a few amazing opportunities I’ve been able to visit a few places, but there are so many more.

Here are a few I’d love to visit this year if possible:

1. Japan

2. Chicago, Illinois (2nd time)

3. Austin, Texas

4. San Francisco, California (2nd time)

5. Seattle, Washington

6. Vancouver, British Colombia

7. Miami, Florida

8. Banff, Alberta

9. Belize

10. England (2nd time)

Some of these places I visited years ago while others have remained on my wishlist for quite some time. Experiencing travel is so important to me but I often get caught up in the every day stresses of life, forgetting to set aside money so I can indulge in something so integral to who I am. So this year will call for focus regarding my finances in order to make this happen.

ImageFrom left to right: Me in the display window in a local mall. Top row: Paris (1999), London (2008), JC Penney’s (2013) Bottom row: Los Angeles (2010), London (2008), Chesapeake Bay (2012)

Do you enjoy traveling? What places are on your travel bucket list? Where are you traveling to this year? List them in the comments below!

For the month of January I will attempt to trudge my way through posting via Jeff Goins’ 500 Words Writing Challenge. Won’t you join me?

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