Planning a trip by filling in the blanks.

posted in: Trip Planning | 0

Road map of arizona with markingI just love it when I mention a place I want to visit and people tell me, “You don’t want to go there.”

Of course I do.

North Pole or North Korea. Kazakhstan or Kansas. There isn’t a square inch on this planet that I don’t want to see.

Now I understand that I have limited time, and visiting some places may not be worth spending the time I have left. And, we definitely have limited travel funds, so we might want more bang for our travel buck by avoiding some places.

But don’t tell me that I don’t want to go there. Of course I do, because I’m driven to experience new places. Even if they turn out to be ho hum, or even dreadful.

But this little tirade is just background for explaining another fetish of mine.

I have a Rand McNally Pocket Road Atlas, with yellowing and tattered pages, that I’ve been toting around since the ’80s. After we travel on roads we’ve never explored before, I trace the route in the atlas with a blue pen. Some of the pages, especially the western United States, are webbed with blue lines. I also mark up hiking maps and maps of other countries.

rail car with travelinas
Abandoned rail cars, Jacumba California, discovered by filling in the blanks on our map.

This does two things:

  1. Chills me out when I’ve got the travel blues.  I can get a little moody when we haven’t traveled for awhile. The atlas, and other maps that I’ve marked up, reminds me that I have been chipping away at the unexplored square-inches of this planet.
  2. Gives us new travel ideas. The areas between the blue lines represent the unknown. So when we’ve got some free time and we’re itching to take off somewhere, we can look at the map and say “Hey, we’ve never been to Borkedybork (or wherever).Let’s go check it out.”

I like the simplicity of the printed maps, but now you have Google maps and all types of websites that let you map your road trips, bike rides and hikes.

So if you’re stuck for ideas when you need a vacation, or don’t have the funds for some far-off adventure, pull out a map (or go online) and find that blank spot. You may find a gem or a dud of a travel destination, but at least you’ll know. What’s more, you’ll then have the power to say “You do/don’t want to go there!”

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