Travel planning is one of those things I do when my desk at work gets too full and the problems threaten to explode my head.   Left to my own devices,  I will surf travel websites for ideas and day dream about being anywhere but here.

Who wouldn’t?

Sometimes, I get great ideas from my friends.  For example, when our friends bought a place in Belize, I began to research ways to get there.  Last summer, I heard about a friend’s vacation to the Big Island, and it reminded me of my personal goal to see all 50 states before I die.

My father was stationed in Hawaii for a brief time before he met my Mother.  He told stories of swimming with Duke Kahanmoku and of the rain storm that hit every afternoon at 5:00 p.m.   He loved Hawaii.  And I think that he believed that if he could make it to Hawaii, he could make it to the other 50 states.   I recall on road trips, we made sure to take a few hours out of our way to get to Rhode Island and Vermont, to cross them off his list.

When he died in 2004, it seemed sad that he was missing Alaska and Oregon, although when you consider that he’d make it to much of Europe, Asia and Russia, and some of the Carribean, 48 states isn’t too bad.

My Mom loved travel as well, although they could not have been different types of travelers.  While my father enjoyed meeting locals and seeing natural sights, Mom liked to go shopping and see amazing architectural sights.  And if there was a baseball team, she wanted to see a game.

I like seeing natural sights and learning about history.  I’m fascinated by the history of tourism.  Why do we go where we go?   I want to understand the significance of a place.  I don’t shop.  I take pictures.  I eat.  I take in the view.   I leave my messy desk behind for the energy of wherever I am.

For our vacation this fall, I realized that I wanted to cross something off the list of big dreams.   My big dream vacation list is pretty big, although I’ve crossed off a few places, such as Paris, London, and the Southern Carribean.  Remaining on the big list is Alaska, Hawaii, Bermuda, Belize, Greece, Brazil, Argentina, Scandinavia and Iceland.   I was thinking that Alaska, Bermuda or Belize might make good fall vacations, and I spent some time pricing cruises.   The prices were not exceptional, and I could not get my non-scientific pleasure formula to work.

About a year ago, I stumbled across a unique fact about myself.  I always want to travel.   I also always set a budget of $2000-$3000 for a trip for the two of us, inclusive.  I never spend more.   Rarely, I can find a vacation for less.  For example, it is entirely possible to book a five night cruise for two people with a balcony stateroom and drive to the cruise port for under $2000.   However, if I find a vacation that will cost less than $2,000 and I cannot commit to it, it’s not where I want to go.

A year ago, I was looking at a trip to Las Vegas.  It was a difficult time in our life, and I wanted to get away.  The average price of hotel and airfare was $600 a person for four nights.  I couldn’t pull the trigger.    I kept looking for a $400 trip.    Las Vegas wasn’t the answer.

So, when I found $800 cruises to Bermuda, and Belize and $600 Alaska cruises, I was a little surprised when I couldn’t commit.  These were places on my big list, after all.  And they were all within budget.   Something wasn’t working.   I kept looking for cheaper ways to go on the same trip.

In the process of looking for travel bargains, I opened up a spam newsletter from TravelZoo, and my eyes stopped on a posting for a vacation to Hawaii.  It was cheap!  Oh my gosh.  I ran over to Expedia and plugged in my vacation dates.  I picked the Big Island, because I wanted to see Volcanoes National Park.  My heart racing, I waited for the results to populate.  When they did, I realized that Hawaii was our fall vacation.