Happy Top Five Monday, travelers! Although it has been a slow summer/fall adventure-wise at CCC, Kelly and I recently cured all of that with the arrival of our long-awaited Pride & Prejudice tour of Great Britain. Faithful readers and anyone who has ever spoken with either Kelly or me will recall that this trip has been atop both of our bucket lists since…well, basically since we met and discovered our mutual love for all things Bennett, Darcy, Pemberley, and Colin Firth. The genesis of the trip was our desire to see in person the sights and places that inspired this most beloved book and its modern retellings, but being faithful CCC-ers, we also wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to add a few new countries to our tally. The result was a fortnight that exceeded even our expectations for a fantastic vacation. A week after returning, most of my down time is spent looking back at the pictures and thinking how a-mah-zing everything was. (Seriously – Kelly and I are genius travel planners, think of us for your next adventure if you want it to be awesome!)
The grand tour in pictures. Clockwise from top left: the Assembly Rooms in Bath; the Derbyshire countryside; Conwy, North Wales; castle hill in Edinburgh
All of this awesome got me thinking about secret dream vacations and why most people never experience the same level of awesome. The reason this little nerdfest was so perfect to Kelly and I is because it was designed entirely to our unique nerdy specifications. I propose that despite individual preferences and independent-minded travelers, most vacations, trips, honeymoons, and other travel fits within generally accepted guidelines and characteristics. (If you’ve always wanted to go to Paris, it’s probably because of a love of art at the Louvre, or pictures of the Eiffel Tower, an extreme food and wine fetish, or a combination of all of the above, and a trip that you plan to Paris will include these things.) But everyone has their own list of places/books/movies/games with which they can “nerd out” big time. Many will talk a big game about one day making a pilgrimage to the “Lord of the Rings” New Zealand, or the hometown of a favorite athlete, but too often these trips remain fantasy.
So therefore, let my top 5 post today serve as encouragement to walk the walk, put your money where your mouth is, and start planning your own nerdfest dream vacation! If you like mountains, see the tallest peak on each continent. If architecture is your nerd paradise, find the oldest/tallest/smallest building. If Canadian red-heads are your thing, visit Anne’s Green Gables. If you’re a Star Wars fan, go…see some Star Wars stuff? I don’t know, there’s got to be a desert where they filmed or a world fan appreciation museum or something, right? Anyway, if you can dream it you can do it!
Top 5 Reasons to get moving on that nerd’s dream vacation:
1. You’re not getting any younger.
I know this isn’t easy to hear, but it’s true. Someday very soon you’re going to be looking back at your travel days in the past tense, and would you rather see unchecked boxes next to the trips you’ve always dreamed of, or awesome pictures of the trips you did take?
2. It’s easier than you think.
So, maybe you’re reading this thinking, “But my dream is to visit the setting for a very important and obscure book that no one else has heard of and there’s no way to plan a proper vacation around it.” Trust me, no matter how obscure your interest, you can design a trip because the only person you have to please is yourself. There is probably even a fan out there who loves Important Obscure Book just as much as you and has started a business taking other fans and easily-duped tourists on his themed tour of said location.
3. It’s not as expensive as you think.
Or maybe you’re reading this thinking, “Yes I totally agree with you, Leslie, you’re so smart and awesome! But I have a very fulfilling but low-paying job saving the world, three kids, and a house with a leaky roof. There’s no way I’ll be able to afford my dream vacation.” Boy, do I know how that is. Except the three kids and leaky roof part, but we all have something keeping us out of the Scrooge McDuck realm of wealth. The great thing about nerdy dream vacations though, is that your deepest darkest nerdiest dreams aren’t going to change. Whether you leave tomorrow or next year, you will still enjoy it every bit as much. This allows the freedom to save for as long as needed. Also, you won’t be tied to the typical tourist traps that add the most cost to trips (monument entry fees, museum entry fees, looking at something that’s been there for 1,000 years entry fees, etc.) The important thing is to keep your eye on the prize and commit to a goal.
4. The opportunity for a truly unique experience.
If it’s your deep dark nerdy dream that’s driving the experience, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it in a way that no one else would, and that’s strangely satisfying. The keys to a guaranteed success are as follows:
- Find a nerdy partner – this must be someone who enjoys your nerd dream just as much as you, and will be just as interested in each nerdy detail. You can admit up to three nerdy partners, but cap the group at 4 people max to prevent groupthink taking over.
- Plan ahead – this is probably the only time you’ll be in your dream fantasyland, so you’re going to want to see everything there is to see. It would be a shame to make the trip to Yoda’s house and only find out later on that Luke Skywalker’s light saber was in a house just up the road! (I don’t know, I haven’t really watched Star Wars so I’m guessing what the cool things would be.) Do the research ahead of time!
- Document the trip – if you’re like me, it can be tough to remember what you had for breakfast this morning, let alone a week or more of once-in-a-lifetime nerdy experiences. Kelly and I made nightly (or every other nightly) notes in my iphone about what we saw and the funny encounters we wanted to remember. Not only does this help trigger your memory later on, the notes written after a few pints at a Welsh pub can provide welcome amusement!
5. Stick it to mainstream travel.
This one’s for the hipster readers. Who says you have to see/pay for the monuments and museums in the world’s capital cities? Go to Italy and don’t see the Colosseum. Go to New York and spend no time in Times Square. Damn the man! Save the Empire! The point of a nerdy vacation is not to see the TripAdvisor top 10 of attractions, but to shape your own top 10, and again, this is satisfying to hipster and non-hipster travelers.