When I'm working with a client, I usually ask them: "On your favorite trip, what was your most joyful experience? What made it your favorite trip and why?" This helps me to get to know them as travelers, and it gives me an idea what sort of experiences will enhance their custom trip or vacation. It got me thinking about my most joyful recent travel experiences.
I will admit that I am a little bit of a chicken. And a safety nerd. So it was a little surprising (okay, it was shocking) to my children when they saw this photo of me on the back of a motorcycle. I LOVED THIS EXPERIENCE. We toured Cape Town, The Amazing Race style, on the back of motorcycles and side cars. During the tour, when my nervous-Nellie-side started bickering with my Adventurous-side, my Adventurous-side kept winning with the argument that This Is Exhilarating! This is so fantastic I cannot believe how much I love this and I don't want it to end and I'm ALIVE!!!!! It was a very in-the-moment experience. (This memorable, wonderful day was thanks to our beloved partners in Africa, Africa Inscribed. Do not think about visiting Africa without my help through my connections with these incredible travel partners. And if you are not a chicken, there's always shark diving.) Just for the record, my Amazing Race partner, Janet Matheson, (dear friend and colleague from Brownell) and I, won the Amazing Race that day. We can compare times if you go. It's on! ;)
It's almost impossible to select just one animal experience that was most joyful, so Patrick the Wombat is representing many animal and bird sightings and encounters. To learn of a country's efforts in protecting a species, to see leopards mating in the wild, to see a kangaroo for the first time, to see kookaburra, koalas, baby elephants, an injured King of the Jungle, a Tasmanian Devil, an ostrich on a beach, a whale, a baby giraffe, a Kingfisher. (To protect against poaching, we cannot talk about rhinos here. But we can talk about them over the phone.) Gorilla trekking may put me over the edge... The moments with animals, whether from afar or up close, will stay with me forever.
Sensory pleasure. I'm a sensory person, so any destination that fills my senses is a joyful experience. This photo, too, is a representation of many experiences that gave me joy. I love sensory destinations with abundant natural beauty, architecture, outstanding food, and culture. This is in South Africa, and it was pure magic. Such beauty, combined with education, wine, olive oil, friends, and nature, the joy lays on me like a blanket.
The unexpected and unanticipated moments may not bring joy in the moment, in fact those moments can be surreal. The joy comes later. This unexpected, and later joyous moment, took place in Zimbabwe. I mentioned that I'm a big chicken, so having the opportunity to meet a cheetah was not at the top of my list. But by last year I had flown in helicopters with glass floors, ridden on motorcycles, touched the tusks of elephants, and snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef; all out of my comfort zone. It was a million degrees fahrenheit, and my ankles, which are usually my best feature, were matching the elephants. But how could I pass up the opportunity to meet Sylvester? He lost his family to the lions at the age of four days old. Somehow the lions did not find him, and with his eyes still closed, a tracker (named Sylvester) found him. He was then raised under the loving guidance at Vic Falls Wildlife Trust. As I learned his story, I was given the opportunity to sit by him for a photo. In that brief 30 seconds, which typically entailed the human looking at the camera, I felt him look at me. And so I looked at him. I don't think I thought anything, or felt that perhaps I might have been nervous, until later. It just was. And the moment was caught by his keeper.
My friends whisked me away to Whidbey with Champagne and pom-poms. Not all travel is to exotic or to far-away destinations. Sometimes the joy comes in a weekend getaway or a night in a cabin. Grab a pal, your spouse, your sibling, your parents, and celebrate life. The time is going to pass, no matter how you spend it, so make some time to enjoy one another.
When you fall asleep at night, or when you need a happy thought, where does your mind go? One of the most lovely ladies, a dear client, enjoys the anticipation of planning a trip as much as the actual trip. Her work can be sad, so having a trip to plan, and anticipate, gives her joy.
I, like my client, find great joy in the anticipation of a future trip. This summer, our daughter will be wed on Lake Como, Italy. In a family ceremony, my Abigail Joy will marry her beloved. My mom, Lynette Joy, will travel with my dad to celebrate the union, and I, Kristen Joy, along with Kirk, Wolfie, and our loved ones, will gather in ceremony and celebration.
Joy is all around us. What will your next experience be?