Tranticipation: Defining the Joys of Trip Anticipation

Time to put on my travelin' hat
Time to put on my travelin’ hat

Tranticipation (noun): a made-up word formed as an amalgamation of the words ‘trip’ and ‘anticipation’ designed to define the often intangible feelings of hope and positive expectation that precede a trip abroad. 

For those of you who have followed this blog for awhile (or read my book You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper), you know by now that I have a penchant for inserting my own made-up vocabulary to describe various aspects of the travel process (for a somewhat exaggerated example, see the post Maximization and Other Made-Up Travel Philosophies). As I near the homestretch before embarking on my latest voyage to Scandinavia, Italy and the Netherlands, I again find myself needing to invent terms in order to explain the oh-too-subtle-nuances of a travel junkie about to get a fix. If you know what I mean (or would like to) read on for the what, where, and how that makes tranticipation such a desirable experience – even if I only made up the term this morning.

What’s In Store?

There are always a lot of ‘whats’ that stoke my tranticipation before leaving on a trip. In this case, some of the whats that are busying my mind are: What will Sweden really be like on the summer solstice? Will I ever be able to eat a Swedish meatball, fish or walk into an IKEA without being reminded of the time I will have spent there? If I duck into the kitchen of a restaurant in Gothenburg, will the (presumably) Swedish chef really be a crooning clown with a ridiculous accent, or have the Muppets been lying to me all along?

There are so many open-ended questions; so many answers to be discovered that can only be satisfactorily resolved by actually embarking on the voyage and exploring the multiverse of possibility firsthand. And that’s just for my first night!

Where’s It Gonna Be?

Inevitably, in every voyage, there is that one place where you’re taken by surprise at how lovely/interesting/fascinating/insert-favorite-adjective-here a location can be. Usually it’s someplace you didn’t even expect. Acute tranticipation has me wondering where in the next few weeks that place will be. Will it be at some random lookout point over the Norwegian fjords? Will it be sitting at a terrace with a bottle of wine on the Amalfi Coast? Or perhaps strolling across the quaint canals of Amersterdam?

The fact is, there’ s no way to pinpoint that amazing place ahead of time. That means that half the fun is discovering where on the trip that inevitable moment decides to reveal itself. Tranticipation indeed.

How Will This Play Out

You never know how a trip will go before leaving home. The same can be said – and more – about how a trip will affect you even after you return. For instance, I find myself wondering how I will view New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park – which at this  moment in time is what I consider the most beautiful place on earth – after being exposed to its more famous counterparts in the far northern hemisphere. Will I have a new favorite?

I wonder how I will feel about the magnificent Italian island of Ponza now that I return for a third time, though under very different circumstances than the previous visits. Will it still seem a home away from home for me, or have my travels since then eroded my emotional ties to the place?

Such uncertainty breeds tranticipation, which as mentioned before, can only be sated by the act of traveling. So as I head off for Europe, perhaps you too can relate to the sensations described here, even if you didn’t know what it was called. And I also hope that you too get the chance to add your own definitions, as I set out to expand my own.

Is there an aspect of tranticipation that you feel before a trip? Please share by commenting below.

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Snapshot of My Bucket List: Where and Why

Cross another one off the Bucket List
Cross another one off the Bucket List

Just today it dawned on me that every single blog post I’ve written has covered someplace that I’ve already been. For a change I thought I’d put down in writing some of the places I’d still like to get to. Of course, my list (and everyone else’s, I suppose) is always subject to change – you never know when you’ll see that photograph that will rocket that previously unknown destination to a top slot. You also never know when that proverbial bucket might be kicked. So with those caveats in mind, I present to you a snapshot of my bucket list at this particular moment in time and perhaps it might inspire you to form one of your own.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

In my head I like to think of myself as being in the mold of Indiana Jones – I love traveling to exotic places; history fascinates me; I even have a fedora. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to a landmark such as Angkor Wat – a sprawling temple complex of stone ruins rising out of the steamy jungles of southeast Asia. I had a taste of that in Ayutthaya, Thailand, but it would seem that Angkor Wat is the definitive ancient temple ruin and the photo opportunities alone urge me to return to the region after a 12 year hiatus. Probably not going to get there this year, but it still ranks high on my list.

Petra, Jordan

Speaking of Indiana Jones, how could anyone see The Last Crusade and not be inspired to visit Petra? While the chances of finding the holy grail are unlikely, the landscape – carved out of rock by the ancient Nabateans – is 100% real. Ever since I saw that on full moons it is possible for a nighttime tour, I have kept the flame burning for a visit to this ancient wonder. Now if only that whole ISIS thing would just settle down…

Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Even for places off the beaten path, the islands of Fernando de Noronha off the northeastern tip of Brazil would be considered as way, way off the normal tourist circuit. For me the appeal is partly the remote and thereby rather untouched nature of this Atlantic archipelago, and partly the dream of scuba diving in its pristine waters – preferably among the many dolphins that frequent the area. It would require some dedication to get there, but like anything else of any value, I’m certain the extra effort would be worth it.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

The first time I heard of Ngorongoro Crater was in a magazine (the Awake! I believe) and the overview combined with the pictures depicted a veritable paradise on Earth. Many years later it was a featured destination on my favorite reality show The Amazing Race, and seeing the lush greenery and wildlife encounters was enough to seal its place on my bucket list – even though I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on several safaris. Add in ‘nearby’ attractions such as Mt. Kilimanjaro and the exotic island of Zanzibar and all it would take is the slightest opportunity for me to convert this wish into reality. That and a bunch of time and money.

Iceland, like almost all of it

Years ago I was planning a trip to Europe and intended to fly on Icelandair, the national carrier of Iceland who would have very graciously allowed me a free stopover in their country. While circumstances eventually led me to take another carrier, by that time I had already done the research on Iceland, and in doing so, convinced myself that this land of fire and ice was worth more than just a ‘stopover‘. When several of my friends made the trip there and shared their photos with me, my wanderlust was sufficiently stoked to include Iceland on my bucket list for the foreseeable future.

In the Queue

As I mentioned before, this is a snapshot of my bucket list. This reflects the fact that I already have a trip to Norway/Sweden/Italy/the Netherlands planned and therefore the wonders I hope to experience on that trip have gone from ‘bucket list’ to ‘itinerary’ – much to my delight. After that I don’t know what will come next. I might even wind up somewhere else. But that’s the great thing about bucket lists – so long as the ‘bucket’ hasn’t tipped over, there’s always time to add and subtract.

Do you have a bucket list? Please share your top slot with the rest of us as well as your reasons why by commenting below.

I would also like to mention that my fellow blogger Bianca Mazziotti has posted a review of my book You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper on her inspirational blog Stumbling for Balance. Her blog is full of positive thoughts on a variety of subjects along with a number of original poems. I encourage you to take a peek – I’m sure she’d like to connect with you.

Share Your Love For All Things Travel With A Gift From!

Whether it’s a custom tee, bucket list design or personalized departure or arrivals board, Custom Travel Art can create the perfect gift for the traveler in your life – even if that traveler is you! Browse our collection now for the perfect travel gift.

Dude, Where’s My Ranch? – Review of Rancho Cortez, Bandera, Texas

Rancho Cortez, Bandera, Texas
Rancho Cortez, Bandera, Texas
Dude Ranch:

n. noun

  • 1. A resort patterned after a Western ranch, featuring camping, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.
Not even two months after my move to Texas, I felt compelled to seek out a more authentic ‘Texan’ experience than just shopping and eating my way through Houston. So when my parents came to town for a visit, I knew the time was right to head out to where the stars at night, are big and bright (clap, clap, clap, clap) deep in the heart of Texas. Nothing better encapsulates the image of Texas more than staying on a ranch (except, perhaps, clapping along to the aforementioned song). So as I planned our jitney into the famed hill country, I settled on a place called Rancho Cortez, located on the periphery of Bandera, Texas – the self-proclaimed “cowboy capital of the world”. As it turns out, I chose wisely, and the experience had was both fun and authentic. The following is a breakdown as to why. The Ranch
Check in at the General Store
Check in at the General Store
Bandera is set some 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio. It features a small main street brimming with Western facades and numerous souvenir shops to go along with a few eateries. Rancho Cortez is perhaps a ten minute drive out of town, nestled in the rolling hills that characterize the region. Coming from Houston, ANY hill was a welcome sight, as a little topographical variety is good for the soul. Check in takes place in the main office/general store that looks like it was lifted right out of a ghost town. Here you can buy sundries and souvenirs – including an authentic cowboy hat, which I might add, will actually come in handy during your stay. Guest cabins of varying sizes dot the property, many of which are great for families as they contain kitchenettes and bunk beds for the kids. There’s a large barn structure housing a game room in the event that you’d like to stay indoors (?!) as well as an outdoor pool. A covered hot tub is available for a post-ride soak, and since the ranch also doubles as a fitness spa (with extensive programs and training) there is a well-equipped fitness center and an indoor pool as well. Meals (generally included depending on your package) are served in a no-frills dining hall where you can interact with fellow guests, or even ranch owner Larry Cortez, whose Texas-size personality feels right out of the movie City Slickers. The food is basic but tasty, and I was glad I was not here on a fitness program, as those guests had a far more restrictive diet. Of course, the real reason for visiting a dude ranch is the horses, and I am happy to say that all of the many horses I encountered were well-cared for and in good health. It was easy to see the handlers’ genuine respect and concern for the animals, and this of course assuaged my guilty conscience for having some poor horse have to walk around with someone the size of me on its back. Which brings me to the next point… The Horseback Riding
Horseback riding, Rancho Cortez
Horseback riding, Rancho Cortez
Guests are divvied into riding parties so that there’s never an exceptionally large group out at one time (and so that the horses are not overworked either). The guides will lead the posse through groves of trees, expansive meadows, and lovely hilltop vistas. Rides will last about an hour unless prior arrangements have been made. As any non-rider can attest, an hour is enough time to enjoy the experience without feeling overly saddle-sore. For guests on the all-inclusive package, they are entitled to two rides a day – plus a hay ride through the property, which at times will include a visit to the impressive herd of cows on site. Off the Horse Activities Since horseback riding will only take up about two hours of your day, the ranch does offer other diversions to pass the time. There’s a scenic trail that winds across the hill overlooking the property, where at the top guests can play in the obstacle course put there for those on a fitness package. Or you can do what I did, which was to walk past and shake my head at doing that stuff under a hot Texas sun.
How to catch a woman - Texas style
How to catch a woman – Texas style
The ranch hands will also tutor interested guests in the art of roping. It took a little while but eventually I got the hang of it. In the event that I were tasked with lassoing an absolutely stationary colt from a few feet away, I’d feel pretty certain about my chances of success. As for moving targets, not so much so, though one of the cowboys very nonchalantly lassoed my wife mid-step and attempted to teach me how to do it. Call me a Neanderthal, but it dawned on me that such a skill would be quite useful, not to mention a very effective way to meet more women after she leaves me for lassoing her in public. DSC_2836Perhaps the most enjoyable of all activities offered at Rancho Cortez takes place at dusk. This is when they get a fire started in the stone fire pit, allowing guests to pull up their chairs and enjoy the ambiance as the stars start blinking on one by one. On some evenings they have a singer drop by, who will regale guests with folk songs and other ditties accompanied by guitar. Between the twang of the voice, the crackling of the fire, and the mix of starlight and firelight, there’s no mistaking that you are truly (clap, clap, clap, clap) deep in the heart of Texas. The Conclusion I came to Rancho Cortez for a genuine, non-touristy ranch stay, and I didn’t leave disappointed. The price was quite reasonable, the staff friendly and personable, and the scenery was all I could hope for. I would heartily recommend it to anyone seeking a cowboy experience in the Lone Star State. In fact, I can’t wait to receive other visitors, as it will give me an excuse to come back. Dude, that’s something to look forward to.

Share Your Love For All Things Travel With A Gift From!

Whether it’s a custom tee, bucket list design or personalized departure or arrivals board, Custom Travel Art can create the perfect gift for the traveler in your life – even if that traveler is you! Browse our collection now for the perfect travel gift.

Fresh From the Blogosphere: Reviews of You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper

You Can Keep Your Adventure bookWell friends, it’s coming up on a month now since its release and some of my fellow bloggers have weighed in about my travel/humor guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper. I wanted to share this with you in the event that a) you haven’t gotten around to reading it yet and b) you would also like a glimpse at some other blogs that deserve your attention.

At the end of my last post I included a link to Kate Denny’s review of my book on her excellent blog Travel Far, Eat Well. Today I’d like to share two more with you.

The first is by Manny from The Greenwich Mummy blog. Besides being a delightful person, she covers a wide range of lifestyle  subjects from her Greenwich (London) base. Whether it be parenting advice or just something to do for the weekend, she knows her town and is happy to share it.

The second is by Carl from theoldfellowgoesrunning. His blog deals partly with running, and partly with many of the myriad topics of everyday life – all through his unique and genuine perspective. He’s a genuinely nice guy, and I’m not just saying that because he reviewed and recommended my book 🙂

I hope you take the time to check out my fellow bloggers’ sites and if you haven’t already done so, my book You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper – you know I’m just going to keep bringing it up until you do.

Have you read my book already? Leave a comment about what you did or didn’t like!