Blame it on my Business Management degree, or the ten years I spent working in the tech sector, but I’m a spreadsheet jockey. When I plan my travel for the year, I like orderly lists in rows and columns sorted by date. I realize my travel writing lifestyle can appear serendipitous from the outside, but really it’s a carefully formulated strategy planned months in advance. Each destination serves a purpose, either a confirmed story assignment, or an experience that I strongly believe will lead to an assignment, an award-contending story, or an open door. And yes, every destination means something to me personally. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to go, like the Galapagos, or a place that suddenly gets into my head and I can’t get it out, like Iceland. Sometimes it’s a place I’m afraid of—like Afghanistan—that lures me because the story is just too damn good not to tell.
As for numbers, I did 20 trips in 2013. My sweet spot seems to be 1-2 adventures a month. Any more, and I start to burn out, any fewer and I get restless. I just got back from my first trip of 2014. I spent a week in New Mexico to ski Santa Fe, Taos, and Red River, and indulge in as much art, architecture, and southwest-style food as I could find. What I found was so much more—a richer history and more vibrant culture than I’ve felt anyplace else in the U.S., and more fascinating people in one area than I think I’ve met in my entire life. It was a hell of a way to kick off the New Year. If New Mexico is representative of the quality of the rest of my 2014 travel, this will be my best year yet. Here’s what’s on the spreadsheet so far:
Salida, CO—Ski Monarch (Feb)
Aspen, CO—Ski Aspen (Mar)
South Korea—Bike 120 miles from Seoul to the traditional folk village of Andong (Apr)
Santa Fe, New Mexico—Bike the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway from Santa Fe to Albuquerque (May)
Utah—Stand-up paddle the Escalante River 70 miles to Lake Powell (May)
Montana—Bike the Road to the Sun in Glacier National Park before it opens to car traffic (May)
Alaska—Stand-up paddle board among the icebergs of Kenai Fjords National Park (June)
Do keep me apprised of any other interesting story opportunities and destinations—especially for the second half of 2014. So far, I’m considering returning to Rwanda in November.