This is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project, a daily blogging challenge with a prompt for every day in November 2011. Check out the prompt at the bottom of this post to find out how you can participate!
It’s Thanksgiving, so what other prompt could we offer than the idea of giving thanks for all that you are grateful for this year. Whether you’re somewhere far from home or surrounded by family, friends, and a desiccated turkey carcass, here’s hoping you had wonderful Thanksgiving and have much to be thankful for this year!
Growing up, I’d never thought of myself as particularly lucky. I came from a lower middle-class family and was raised by a single mother who sacrificed much to send me to a private school which, while offering an excellent education, left me surrounded by affluent students whose lives I imagined to be so much better than my own. They drove BMWs and went to Mexico for spring break. I drove a 12 year old rusted Mustang and spent spring break working minimum wage jobs. I knew there were a lot of people who were less fortunate than me, but as a selfish and sheltered 16 year old, I still lamented the things I didn’t have, and was always envious of my classmates.
Time and life experiences taught me just how lucky I really was – lucky to have one parent who did everything she could to give me a good life, lucky to have shelter and food and clothes, lucky to have a good education. Traveling the world – and seeing how some people live on so little, how some people struggle to survive, and how some people have to fight everyday just to be in control of their own lives – has brought my good fortune into even sharper focus.
On Thanksgiving, and every day, I’m grateful that I was born to a loving family, to a father, who, despite his many mistakes, would give everything he has to see me happy, and to a mother who always did the best she could and put her own life on hold to give my sister and I better ones. I’m thankful that I live in a country (though far from perfect) where I can choose to be who I want, do what I want, and go where I want. I’m thankful that the place I was born and the family I was born into allowed me to gain a valuable education, so that I could find a job I love and do it well. I’m grateful that though the economy is struggling financially (as I am at times) I’ve been able to cut expenses and live frugally so that I can still afford to travel. I’m thankful for good friends and an amazing husband.
Bad things happen; people lose their jobs and have their hearts broken. Loved ones die and people get sick. Life doesn’t always go as we plan and things don’t always work out in our favor. But if you have a roof over your head, food to eat, the freedom to make your own decisions and a family that loves you, you’re more fortunate than a lot of people on this earth. And if you have all that and the money to go out and see the world, well, then you have even more to be thankful for. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving and my family’s old tradition of going around the table with each person listing what they were thankful for, here’s a list of things I’m giving thanks for this year.
1. As mentioned above, an awesome husband who makes me laugh everyday, a crazy family that has always been there for me, two cuddly cats that make perfect office-mates, and friends I could not imagine life without.
2. A passport that allows me to go just about anywhere in the world, planes and trains to take me there, and the internet to make booking trips as an independent traveler easier than ever.
3. Swiss fondue, a cheese-lover’s dream come true.
4. Street food; not only is it often the best food, it’s the cheapest. Doner kebab, tacos, crepes, sausages, currywurst. . . .
5. Xanax. The only thing that keeps me calm on a plane.
6. Good friends and family scattered throughout the globe, always willing to meet up for a drink or welcome me into their homes.
7. Free wine tastings in Traverse City, Michigan. Free beer tastings in Kansas City. Free port tastings in Portugal. Any kind of free tastings. Okay, any kind of tastings. Free is a bonus.
8. Unexpected upgrades.
9. Bike rides along the ocean in California or down a mountain in Switzerland.
10. The Pacific Ocean, particularly on Highway 1 driving south to Big Sur, California.
11. Friends who have vacation days, and who love to use them to travel with me.
12. A “magic bag” carryon that seems to expand to carry whatever I need without requiring me to check luggage.
13. Smartphones that keep me connected no matter where I am.
14. Supersoft hotel beds covered in pillows – especially after several days spent sleeping on hard hostel beds that only have one pillow.
15. Swiss trains that take you anywhere, quickly and on time, including to the top of a mountain.
16. Central America – always warm and welcoming (and cheap) when it’s freezing in Chicago.
20. The kindness of people all around the world.
21. A comfortable bed and a cozy apartment I love coming home to.
What are you thankful for?
30 Days of Indie Travel Project: How to Participate
We’re inviting bloggers from around the world (that means you, too!) to join us in a daily blogging effort designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.
We’ll share some of our favorites via Twitter and Facebook throughout November, as well as a round-up article at the end of the month, so if you’re playing along make sure to let us know – use the #indie30 hashtag on Twitter, and link to the 30 Days of Indie Travelpage in your post so we’ll be able to find it.
Find out all of the 30 Days of Indie Travel blogging prompts so far – it’s never too late to join in the fun!