Life is but a dream…

“Nothing makes time pass or shortens the way like a thought that absorbs in itself all the faculties of the one who is thinking. External existence is then like a sleep of which this thought is the dream. Under its influence, time has no more measure, space has no more distance.” ― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

I have this inner battle everyday between my left-brain self and right-brain self. My left-brain powers through hours of work, without a break or stretch, and does not allow my mind to wander. My right-brain, on the other hand, craves walks in the sunshine, forces myself to go eat lunch in the park instead of at my desk, and constantly daydreams about far off lands to add to my bucket list.

I think what people daydream about says a lot about who they are. As far as most people I encounter from 9 – 5 are concerned, I am a highly organized, selfless individual who plays by the rules and sticks to a plan. But anyone who knows me outside of work knows that I am a laid-back, free spirit who likes to avoid committing to plans and will take a spontaneous adventure on any given weekend.

Instead of dreaming of white picket fences, summer novels and online shopping carts, I am in a place where my daydreams are filled with visions of the Great Pyramids, Southeast Asian beaches, European chateaus and open American highways. I recently saw this video on BuzzFeed that described trips “you need to take in your 20’s”, and it got me to thinking… This is the time in my life where I don’t have obligations to prevent me from exploring the world, so why not take advantage of this time by traveling to destinations I constantly dream about? I have put together my own Top 5 list of places I want to visit before I enter my 30’s (eek!), and I plan on making them a priority before I wake up in a big ol’ house, with a white picket fence, perusing Gap’s website and picking out NY Times Best Seller’s for my next family vacation.

5. Road trip from California to Illinois on Route 66: I used to go on road trips with my family as a kid, but the farthest we ever made it was Colorado. Considering the fact I went to college there and did the CA – CO drive about a dozen times, I’ve been in search of a cross country road trip that would take me to parts of this country I wouldn’t normally see under any other travel circumstances. The historical Route 66 goes through 6 states: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Although I have been to Arizona a zillion times, I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. New Mexico offers amazing art, Texas triumphs in food and live music, and I don’t know much about the other states scattered throughout the Great Plains, but I know that this will be the only way I ever experience them. Besides, what is better than the open road with good friends, sunflower seeds and beef jerky?

the open roads of Route 66

the open roads of Route 66

4. The Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt: The Great Pyramids, which happen to be the last standing Ancient World Wonder, have been at the top of my list since I was a child. I always knew I would make it out to the Homeland, however during my Birthright trip last summer, I did not have the time to extend my trip and visit Egypt. The security of the country has always been a concern as well, of course. But this is something I have always had my heart set on, and I will make sure that if I don’t travel anywhere else in the world, that I visit this amazing example of human strength and architectural innovation.

The Great Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramids of Giza

3. Climb Machu Picchu in Cuzco, Peru: After crossing Asia, Europe and the Middle East off of my list of continents to visit, I decided that South America would be my next continent to tackle. I am a bit of a history buff, and there is definitely something alluring about South American cultures and architecture. Like the Great Pyramids, the Mayan ruins are another fantastic example of strength and innovation at a very early point in history. But when my Dad told me about his trek to Machu Picchu in his 20’s, I knew this was something I had to do at some point in my life. Since I am such an avid hiker, this will be the ultimate outdoor adventure!

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

2. Culinary expedition in Italy: I have done a ton of research on traveling to Italy [courtesy of Eat, Pray, Love], and it is definitely towards the top of my list. Of course it would have been smart to check it out while I was in France last month, but again, my career doesn’t allow me as much freedom as I would like, so I stuck to one country. In any case, everything about Italy appeals to me… the food, the fashion, the men, and the language are all contributing factors to my obsession. I would love to get a train pass and just cruise through the different regions of Italy, experiencing all the wine and pasta my heart desires. Besides, with cities as different and special as Tuscany, Sicily and Florence, who wants to choose just one?

Sunset in Florence

Sunset in Florence

1. Take it easy in West Papua, Indonesia: My friend Tim King, who also happens to be a photographer (and an amazing one at that – peep his work here), recently posted photos from a secret location with the most picturesque landscapes I have ever seen. Similar to the Caribbean or Thailand, this magical place instantly grabbed my attention. After much begging and pleading from his fans and friends on Facebook, Tim revealed the location of his most recent adventure and I was surprised I had never heard of it before. With jungle excursions in the highlands and amazing surf and dive spots scattered along the beaches, it is still surprising that this place isn’t nearly as popular as neighboring spots like Bali and coastal Thailand. The Western-most place to visit in Indonesia, West Papua is the perfect place to unplug and get away from it all – hence it making the tippy top of my list!

The gorgeous beaches of West Papua, photo courtesy of Tim King

The gorgeous beaches of West Papua, photo courtesy of Tim King

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