These Must be the Places: 2018 Edition

 

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It took less than four weeks to schedule out all the vacation time I have for the year.  In reality, it took less than four days, but I am who I am.

People accuse me of not having a “real job” or that I have unlimited vacation time.  I don’t. I’m lucky enough to work at a place that sees me as more than a number.  We’re a small company which means everyone knows traveling is one of my biggest passions. It is something I will always make a priority.  And if push came to shove something I will always choose.

Knowing this, they not only tolerate my vagabond side they embrace my free spirit.  Adam (my boss) gets as excited as I do for my trips.  He’s always telling clients about my next trip. He knows that allowing me to take a few trips a year allows me to focus on the company the rest of the year.

With that in mind the more notice I can give Lifted Logic, the better.  Which is why after I got back from Costa Rica I started thinking about the year ahead.

I considered quite a few places to check out in 2018.  I knew instead of doing one 35 day trip (like Asia last year) and one 10 day trip (Costa Rica) I was going to do 3 or 4 shorter trips. I daydreamed about places like Chile, South Africa, Iceland, Guatemala, New Zealand, Egypt, Japan, Ecuador, Lebanon, South of France, and Morocco.

All appealed to me for different reasons.  Some for the scenery, some for the culture, and some because I had a free couch I knew I could crash on.  Full disclosure, I’ve never needed much of a reason to go somewhere. Once, I ended up in Santa Barbara because a girl I met in line for the bus at a music festival told me I could crash on her couch if I was “ever in the area”.  Be careful what you say to me, I may take you up on the invitation (thanks, Emma <3).

It’s no surprise I like to go to places a little off the beaten path.  I like the look on someone’s face when they ask “why would you ever go there?” Based on past experiences, I know that those places are usually the ones that stay with you.  They’re different.  They challenge you.  They help you realize there’s no right way to live and that’s something I am always pursuing when I travel.

I enjoy solo travel as much as traveling in a group (maybe more so).  I enjoy each for different reasons so, as odd as it may sound to some, that never factored into my decision.  If I want to go somewhere I’ll go; whether it’s just me or nine of my closest friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about my 2018 trips, but picking these destinations reminds me how many other places I want to go and I’ll have to wait.  Regardless of what anyone says, FOMO is real.  Choosing one thing always means missing out on another.

Below are the places I’ll be visiting, the dates, who’s coming with, and why it made my 2018 list.

Portugal

Lisbon

Location: Lisbon
Date: June 21-June 25th
Crew: Me, KB, Haider, Pat, Steph, Zoja, Scott, Jessica

The Reason:

Because I saw an opportunity.

Originally I was flying from the States to London and meeting up with my friend Seif before heading to Russia for the World Cup.  We moved the dates of our trip back a week. This meant Seif was going to miss Russia v Egypt game in Saint Petersburg (Seif is from Egypt originally so this is a big deal).  In classic Seif fashion, he told me he wasn’t missing the game and was going to Russia early, I could meet him there.

I wasn’t heartbroken at not having to spend time in London.  Honestly, not one of my favorite places.  I started researching flights to Russia.  I had to have a layover somewhere in Europe.  So like all good travelers, I started asking myself where do I want to go for a weekend that is (kind of) on the way.

It wasn’t a hard choice.

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If I can surf, I’m there…

Lisbon has been a city on my “short” list for a few years now.  I didn’t get a chance to go when I backpacked Europe in 2014 and haven’t had a chance to since.  I’ve heard amazing things from each of my friends that have gone. I constantly hear: the food is incredible, it’s cheap, drugs are decriminalized, it has the art, architecture, and culture I love, rooftop bars, and last but not least, it has surfing.

I didn’t have to try too hard to convince KB that Lisbon should be our first stop.  I reached out to a few friends that live in Europe and now we’re planning to meet up for a weekend.  We’ll only be there for three days but that’s plenty of time to enjoy Lisbon and catch up with some old friends.

In the words of Seif, all you have to do to enjoy Lisbon is ‘follow gravity’.

Russia World Cup 2018

Moscow

Locations: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Other Russian locations TBD
Date: June 25th to July 8th
Confirmed Crew: Me, Seif, KB, Sims

The Reason:

Because why the fuck not.

This is the major trip of 2018 and I can’t tell you how or why it’s happening.  The World Cup has been on my bucket list since I wrote it years ago.  But it’s also true that I don’t love soccer (not a top 3 sport for me). I was in Europe during the 2014 World Cup and the atmosphere was truly amazing.  The games were being played in Brazil, but the environment is something that stayed with me.  I promised myself then that if I ever got the opportunity I would attend a World Cup match.

Seif and I were discussing a South Africa/Egypt trip when out of nowhere he asked if I’d be down to go to Russia for the World Cup. The World Cup was something we both wanted to do and agreed there was no way we were going to Qatar in 2022.  So it was Russia or wait a decade.  Waiting is not something I’m good at.

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Seif and I on one of adventures

One of my many flaws is that I don’t say no to much and a few days later I was putting in the vacation request.  The next thing I know, in typical Todd fashion, I’m inviting people on the trip with me (not really thinking anyone would come).

Kelly Blake (KB) who’s never been out of the country claimed a spot in the group.   The final spot in our foursome is going to my friend Sims who is the only real soccer fan in our group.

I’m excited to cross a big item off my bucket list, make more memories with Seif, show KB the world, and see if Sims can pull off furs in July.

Burning Man

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Location: Black Rock City, NV
Date: Aug 26, 2018 – Sep 3, 2018
Confirmed Crew: Me, Zoran, Priya, Seif, Shreya, Neil, Aubrey, (to name a few)

The Reason:

Because once wasn’t enough.

As amazing as Burning Man was in 2016 I could have done it better.  Not that there is a “right” way to do Burning Man, but the first time you go it’s overwhelming.  There is so much going on all the time.   It’s a sensory overload of sorts.  No amount of reading or watching videos can prepare you for it.  It’s not like other festivals (it’s not even a festival).  There is no start time or an end time.  There aren’t organized activities.  There are no rules. It takes 4 or 5 days to adjust to the level of freedom you have.  By the time I started feeling comfortable it was almost over.

The biggest lesson I’ll be bringing back with me in 2018 is to be present and enjoy what’s in front of me (This must be the place).  If you find something once odds are you won’t find it again. I spent too much time in 2016 looking for things and people I’d found the day before instead of exploring and finding new stuff.

I know this year I’ll have a better idea of how to prepare, what to expect, and how to let go.

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Ready for round 2…

More importantly, it’s the only full week that both Zoran and Priya have vacation at the same time in 2018.  (It’s tough being a resident pursuing the admirable career of doctoring)

Simply put, if Dr. Zoran is going, I’m going.

After all, we made a promise after we went in 2016 that we would take a year off and return in 2018. A promise is a promise.

Greece

Santorini sunset at dawn village of Oia Greece

Santorini sunset at dawn village of Oia Greece

Date: October 4th to 15th
Location: Athens, Santorini, Other Greek Islands TBD
Crew: Me and Sandi Clause

The Reason:

Because my mom deserves to see the world (and has an exceptional memory)

When I told my mom I was taking a month off to go to Asia in 2017 she asked if she could come.  I told her “Not a chance.”  She looked at me with that sad, offended, make you feel terrible look that I believe all mothers have mastered.  I explained to her that backpacking Southeast Asia for a month was not her type of trip.

Sandi has never been out of the country. Maybe I’m a bad son, but I didn’t think a trip involving $7 hostels, overnight trains, and unlimited rice wine was the best first trip for her to take in her 50s.

 

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Look out Greece here we come

 

I flippantly told her we could do Italy or Greece in 2018. It was mostly so she’d stop looking at me with those sad eyes.  I started planning the Asia trip short after and completely forgot about the promise I’d made.

A few weeks later (yes this was in 2016) she started sending me stuff for Greece. At first, I was confused.  Then I remembered and realized it was really happening.  No backing out.

I haven’t started to plan it yet, but I booked our tickets to Athens so it’s a thing.  It’s cool to see my mom this excited about something. She’s already asking me which suitcase she should bring and if she should get a new camera.  I make jokes about it, but bringing people along on my trips is one of the things I enjoy most. The desire to share the experience is one of the reasons I write as well.  Making memories with a person you care about and seeing it impact their life never gets old.  You get to see them outside of their comfort zone and exploring the world for the first time.  Seeing the other side of the world through the eyes of someone you love is something I hope everyone gets to experience at least once.

Portugal. Russia. The World Cup. Burning Man. Greece.

With 2018 destinations set it’s time to start planning…for 2019.

Where will you be going this year?

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

 

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