Well, the day after I posted the last blog was the same day I decided where I would go this winter but I’m not giving it away just yet! There were a few spots on my mind and the only criteria I had was that this year it had to be a country I’d never visited. Oh yeah, it also had to be a place that would be warmer than Chicago in January and February! Here’s a cool map of some of the countries I’ve been to and a visual realization that there is still so much world to see!

The dilemma for someone like me is that every single country sounds fascinating, so making a decision is difficult. I also never do any real research before I book my travels because I don’t want to get turned off by negative reviews. Some of my favorite travel moments happened in places that other travelers advised me to “give it a miss.” I have a general idea of the region of the world I want to explore and then narrow it down to a few countries. Maybe I will stay in the same place the entire time. Maybe I will check out some surrounding countries. It all depends how I feel once I arrive. What I don’t like are those crazy itineraries where you are visiting like 8 European cities in a week! I’ve seen situations where backpackers on fast-paced tourist circuits don’t even know what country they are in but they can tell you all about the beach parties and how much local beer they consumed (usually they are wearing a T-shirt to prove they’ve been to the country, and it’s usually got a local beer logo on it to prove that they are amazing at drinking). I digress…

The thing I love best about travel is finding those places that will exist with or without tourism. To go someplace that is simply a city, or a town, or a jungle village with nothing of note other than the fact that is exists on a map is in many ways, the perfect kind of place for me. I don’t want to be part of a tour, or visit the “top ten ____” of just about anything, anywhere, ever. What I want from travel is simple: I want to observe the quotidian activities of people and experience in some small way the way people live when there are no tourists disrupting that everyday behavior. I want to ride every bus, eat at every small roadside stall, observe the soothing sound of a street sweeper’s broom and marvel at the industriousness of an umbrella repair man making an honest living in the streets. Those are the moments I will carry with me far longer than anything my travel guide considers a “must see”. Seeing the world with this lens makes every single place the best place to be, so don’t linger too long on details and research and where everyone else is telling you to go or not go. Just go!

Stay tuned for more about the anatomy of travel next week.