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Carpe Passport (or, Seizing Travel Opportunities Wherever They May Lead You)

This would not have happened but for someone else’s plans.

I’m off again! After almost two years of being US-bound and, well, a lifetime of not visiting South America (I assure you it was not a deliberate slight), I’m about to depart on my second visit to South America in less than two months. It’s not completely accidental.

I’d been thinking for some time about my recon mission to Ecuador, when I was granted a coveted spot on a travel-agent-only South American tour offered by G Adventures. It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, to see how one of my competitors – um, I mean, “partners” – runs their tours, while getting to visit Chile and Argentina for the first time. Originally I thought I would combine the Chile/Argentina tour with my trip to Ecuador – two trips for the price of one round-trip ticket! But then I discovered that it’s so expensive to fly from Ecuador to Chile that I could actually buy two round-trip tickets to South America for about the same price. And three-plus weeks seemed like an awfully long trip, even for me. So the end result was my Ecuador trip last month, followed post-haste by my departure for Chile next week.

While perhaps planning back-to-back trips to South America is not ideal from the perspective of trying to share my travel love with all parts of the world (Asia, I’m coming, I promise!), it’s a good reminder that sometimes we find our travel plans, and sometimes our travel plans find us.

Show of hands for anyone who’s been invited to join friends or family on a trip to someplace you’d never thought of going before. I know it happens a lot. I’m a big supporter of seizing opportunities (no surprise there), particularly those related to travel. But sometimes not all opportunities can be seized. How do you decide whether to carpe that trip?

Trips with friends and family or other groups are fun, and some of my best trips have been to places I wouldn’t have gone but for someone else’s initiative. It probably would’ve taken me many more years to make it to Australia, if not for a friend’s wedding, and I certainly would not have been to Turkey yet, if my grandmother hadn’t picked that destination. They were both fantastic trips, and I’m glad serendipity led me to both places. Particularly if you find yourself suffering from travel inertia – the inability to get a trip planned, maybe because you’re too busy or you can’t decide where to go – then accepting an invitation to join someone else’s trip is probably the best way to break that pattern. But even for those of us with busy travel calendars, an unexpected travel opportunity can inspire you to stretch your boundaries and explore a new part of the world.

On the other hand, if you have limited travel funds and have been saving up for months (or years) to fulfill your dream of visiting Paris, don’t blow that dream with a week in the Caribbean just because your friends are going. If the invitation is less “inspiration” and more “peer pressure,” just say no.

In the end, you have to follow your heart and go places that speak to you. Just keep yourself open to the possibility that you might visit your “must see’s” of the world in a different order than you planned.

The blog will be on hiatus again for the next two weeks, but you don’t have to miss me too much – as always, I’ll be on Instagram and Facebook to share Chile and Argentina with you. Follow the links on the right to follow Mockingbird around the world!

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