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No Big Deal

Where to?

Let’s say you want to take a mini-vacation – a long weekend or a short week – and you want to take it NOW. You don’t have much time to plan. Quick, where are you thinking about going?

Admit it – you were thinking domestic, right?

It’s okay – most people, when they’re trying to come up with an “easy” trip to take, focus on close-to-home destinations in the United States. International travel has unfortunately gotten the bad rap of being complicated, expensive and, well, kind of a big deal. In other words, not the sort of thing you do on short notice for short periods of time.

Friends, it’s time to include your passports in your mini-vacation plans.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with domestic travel; there are truly amazing places to visit in the US. But it’s a different kind of travel experience. The reason I adore (and constantly, insistently advocate for) international travel is that it really is broadening (pardon the cliché) to experience different countries and non-American cultures. And pushing yourself out of your comfort zone (for example, by going somewhere non-English-speaking) is good for the mind and the soul.

To convince you that it’s totally reasonable to travel internationally even for short trips, I’ve anticipated your top three arguments against it:

1. It’s complicated and time-consuming to prepare for an international trip.

I used to think this, too – until I had to prepare for a trans-Atlantic trip in about 2 hours. The experience taught me that it really doesn’t take any longer to prepare for an international trip than a local trip. (It also taught me that it doesn’t matter where you’re going, with only 2 hours to prepare you’re definitely going to overpack.)

More recently, of course, I’ve also discovered the countless (countless!) merits of escorted group tours (ahem), where someone else does all the planning for you and all you have to do is show up. Unescorted tour packages (which put together hotels, transportation and some sightseeing) are also a good way to minimize your pre-departure preparations. And of course, putting together a trip is an absolute breeze if you use a travel agent (double ahem). Actually, I should have led with that. Just call your travel agent. It’s the opposite of complicated and time-consuming!

2. It’s more expensive than domestic travel.

Well…not necessarily. Certainly Paris is going to be more expensive than Topeka. (Sorry, Topeka.) But you’d be surprised by the price-accessibility of some international destinations. You’ll probably also be surprised by how expensive some domestic destinations are. It will cost you more to fly from Atlanta to Martha’s Vineyard than to fly from Atlanta to Quito, Ecuador. Seriously; I just checked. And the wine will be cheaper in Quito, too.

3. It takes too long to get there!

I get it: a four-day trip hardly justifies a 14-hour flight. Fortunately, there are plenty of places remarkably close to home that can deliver some foreign culture. For a little taste of Britain, go to Bermuda (about 2 hours from the east coast); for something that feels French, try Quebec City (ditto). And of course, Mexico and Central America are at your fingertips as well. You could leave home at breakfast and be in Belize in time for lunch. (Again, seriously.) And did I mention that the flights to both Quito and Belize are non-stop? It will take you no less than 3 planes to get to Martha’s Vineyard. That’s hardly an efficient use of your limited time.

Today’s Big Travel Truth is this: as long as you have a passport, international travel is just as easy and accessible as domestic travel. If seeing more of the world is on your Life List, there’s no reason to limit your international travels to your “special” once-a-year trips. And in fact, the more you travel internationally, the more comfortable you’ll become with it, and the less it will feel like a big deal, which means you’ll do even more of it… it’s the happy opposite of a Catch-22.

So the question now is, where do you really want to go?

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