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Do you love to travel? I do. I love nothing better than seeing someplace new. I moved to Florida because I found my little heaven on vacation. It is still never an official vacation for me until I grab a real estate booklet and pretend to move there over at least one lunch. I love to live “like a native” even if it’s getting harder to do so.

Let’s face it, everywhere you go there is a Starbucks, a Best Buy and Vietnamese manicure shop. Regional accents are being homogenized into one mid American boring patois and the Travel Channel and the internet tell us everything we will see before we get there. People are, by and large, people. The bed and breakfast owners in New Orleans retired from a corporate job in Virginia, the fishing boat captain in Key West is from Yonkers. We get Lays, Coke and Red Lobster at home, we don’t need to travel for them.

So, what is it about seeing someplace new? Old buildings are old buildings, rocks after a while are rocks and after a few drinks, every beach bar is another beach bar. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I think I’ve finally figured out what makes TSA lines and traffic snarls worth the effort:

I like the person I turn into when I travel. I become someone who appreciates every moment, who feels every new feeling, who loves being on an adventure.

The memories, the stories, the spirit of a place last a lot longer than the tee shirts and hangovers. Trips are an adventure, the unknown element is what makes them fun; that’s why I could never do a “tour” or have a pre-planned agenda. Vacations are when whimsey take over, when spontaneous joy happens, when the little unexpected memories sprout up out of a spur of the moment walk or turn down the wrong road. The memory of these adventures can last generations.

When I travel, I become spontaneous and happy. I am the guy I wish I could always be.

Food happens on vacation, especially if you can find unique and delicious regional dishes, meals you remember forever. Music can work that way too. You’ll always remember the Zydeco music that called you inside a joint where you ended up staying all night, the concert you drove a few hours to see, the song that comes on someone’s radio as you get your first kiss on a beach. You’ll never quite recreate these moment either. In ‘real life” we are just remembering the original feeling, not actually feeling it again. Accept when we do and that is VERY special.

It’s the energy of New York City you bring home, the end of the road feel in Key West, the quiet desperation in the Las Vegas casinos. It’s the knowledge that you walked where John Lafitte walked, drank where Ernest Hemingway did and, ahem, slept where George Washington did. I love how I become a historian and sociologist when I travel.

It’s knowing you are safe, you are going back home that allows you to revel in the new, the stories you’ll have, the memories you’ll carry. It’s the knowledge that you fly home on Sunday and you’d better maximize every minute of every day before your vacation is over.

It’s more than spending your vacation in gift shops and taking pictures, no, it’s about feeling what life would be like if you got a temporary do over, if you got to be a native of someplace other than where you are already a native. It’s about living life knowing every moment is precious, each experience is new and adventures are always there for the asking.

Let’s see whimsey, spontaneity, adventure? Maybe I don’t have to leave town to find them! Who knows, I might be called to fly home on Sunday.

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