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TSQLTuesday #134: Give me a break

January 12, 2021
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This is my 6th TSQLTuesday, and it’s a subject close to my heart this month: travel.

Travelling is awesome

As I wrote about in a previous TSQLTuesday blog, I really like to travel. I have a big list of places I want to see, as a big part of my epic quest of awesome, and I know I’m never going to get to see everything I want to. Obviously money and time are factors in how often I can get away, and so after the Everest trip in 2019 I’d set myself the fairly modest goal in 2020 of visiting Rome, to tick off the Colosseum, Vatican City, and take a day trip to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I also wanted to visit Stonehenge, as it’s in the same country which means I can make it a weekend trip and see some friends in Bristol at the same time.

Reassessing plans

Clearly the Rome trip never happened. It became quite obvious fairly early in the year that travel to Italy was a bad idea, and I came to terms with that pretty quickly. I held out some hopes for the Stonehenge trip, but in the end the situation never felt safe enough for that kind of frivolous holiday.

Instead I spent the year getting some things sorted in my home life, and that included a big think about my plans for the future. I plan on writing a more detailed post (or maybe several) about the process I went through to do that at some point, but I won’t go into it too much detail here. One of the things that came out of that was I had a serious look at my finances for the first time in a long while, and looked at the types of holiday I want to do, and how regularly I could afford to do them.

Categorising holidays

As a data person, obviously I needed to split the holidays up into categories:

  • Weekend trips – things like the trip to Stonehenge, usually in the UK but could be in Europe, little to no time off work and relatively inexpensive. I can probably absorb the cost of one of those into a month’s budget (or maybe spread across 2 months) by cutting down on other expenses like meals out/takeaway and not making any other big purchases. These are holidays I don’t have to plan for.
  • City breaks – these are trips up to a week long, where I travel to another city (probably in Europe) and see stuff. They obviously need a bit of time off work, won’t come with too much of a plan, but will need some organisation and saving beforehand. The Rome trip I planned was a good example of one of those.
  • Adventures – these are trips like the trek to Everest base camp, or the Vietnam experience I talked about in my other blog post. They last anywhere between 1-4 weeks, will be booked as a tour with a set itinerary, usually involve changes of location, and often need me to buy quite a bit of gear. These obviously come with a fair price tag and require some significant organisation beforehand.
  • Crazy adventures – Never done one of these yet, but it would be a combination of city breaks and adventures strung together in one holiday.

Next trip

Having taken stock, through about some of the holidays I wanted to do soon, and mentally assigned them some categories, I decided I could probably bump the next holiday I take up from a city break to an adventure. There were a couple of factors in that, but the main one was that the extra year of not doing anything was an extra year to save and get myself in a good financial position to absorb a holiday like that into my budget.

I had a think about what exactly I wanted out of the next holiday, especially given what had happened on the Everest trek. One of the things I decided was it needed to be a physical holiday, I think I need to prove something to myself that I am still capable of these more physical holidays. I also decided I wanted to go somewhere warm, after the cold of the Everest trek. With those criteria in mind I settled on a trek through the Jordan desert to Petra and the Dead Sea. There are a few different options for that type of trek, but this one looks pretty representative of what you get.

The whole trip looks very exciting, and as a bonus I get to pretend I’m in the Last Crusade.

Other next trips

I also plan on doing Stonehenge this year, provided things get better in time. I know a few people who may want to come with me, and I have friends in Bristol so I can catch up with them at the same time.

Beyond that I might try to fit in a city break in Berlin to see my sister. A few people I know rave about the city so I’d like to see what it is that makes it so special, and obviously I want to spend some time with my sister after not being able to see her for so long.

Grand plans for the future

For a long time I’ve had a crazy adventure in mind. I want to start somewhere in South America, maybe Brazil, and travel north. Start off with something like an adventure tour in the Amazon, maybe one where you canoe down the river for a week, and see some of Rio. Then travel through different countries to see places like Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, and the Paricutin volcano, eventually entering the US. From there I’d maybe rent a car and spend a couple of months visiting different cities in the US and seeing places like Death Valley and the Grand Canyon, before finally heading north to Canada where I’d see the Northern Lights.

This is probably never going to happen, and may well end up being broken down into several different holidays, but it’s definitely a nice dream to have.

Why plans for the future matter

I think it’s important to have these types of plans, they give you something to look forward to and something to strive for. These things are especially important in the strange times we live in now, but they were also important before and will continue to matter when the world gets back to normal. I know that when work gets bad (as it does sometimes for all of us) and I feel like I’m not making any difference, I can remind myself that even if I’m not achieving stuff at work I am getting myself closer to my next epic adventure.

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