Do you have a bucket list? Or an experience jar?

The bucket list is that forward-thinking aspirational list of places you want to see. Inspired by the idea that somehow one must knock things off a list while they are still able is great, but I find the thought that there is somehow a race and a scorecard involved a bit distressing.

Instead, why not frame it from the perspective of filling an experience jar? This concept comes courtesy of my daughter, as a gift this past Christmas to commemorate in a reflective way all the fun we had traveling in Europe this past summer together. She placed folded up pieces of paper in a mason jar, each with a word, phrase or sentence that immediately evoked a special memory that we had created and shared. In addition to a selection of photos from the trip to go with it, the jar now sits proudly on my dresser, poised for me to take a dip occasionally and retrieve a morning smile. (And in case you’re wondering why our faces look like “they are on fire” in the above photo – it was the glow of a setting sun in the hills of Tuscany, plus just a general glow from within enjoying some Mom and daughter travel time together!)

Creating experiences is at the heart of traveling.

While photos certainly document the beauty of our journeys, and our time and placement in them, words evoke stories and moments that often defy image capture. By placing them in a jar to be relived with reflection it allows the experience to continue giving, rather than being checked off a list. And if it was an experience shared with another person, there is a shared bond in those words and phrases have in giving meaning to something between you exclusively.

Sometimes a little re-framing can do us good. So what will you add to your experience jar this year?

2018 was a year that allowed me a generous amount of travel, not only for business, but also for pleasure. The pleasure side of the ledger included a spring motorbike trip on historic Route 66 through the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park with my husband. Later in the spring I joined 10 girlfriends for a surfing and community service trip to Nicaragua, a country now mired in political unrest, and unsafe to visit. And then in the summer, I took my daughter on an epic 3-week Europe tour where we joined my son and watched a couple IDF race events he was competing in.

So far 2019 will include a Hawaii Big Island tour with my husband and a camping/safari learn to kitesurf excursion out of Noosa, just north of Brisbane in Australia, along with other touring in the land down under that will take me to Sydney, Perth and Melbourne during the month away. That’s the big trip for 2019, but there will be other small stuff like Montana and Yellowstone in the fall. And yes, there may be a motorcycle involved… Stay tuned. In the meantime I will continue to pour over photos and research on safaris in Tanzania for some point in the future. Southern Europe and Spain may well come calling before that.

One thing I’m really looking forward to with the kitesurf adventure is the opportunity to add a little “reality” back into Instagram. Both myself and the girlfriend I will be embarking on this adventure with are pretty fit and youthful in our thinking, but there’s no denying the fact that there are some miles and experience on our bodies. Tread worn, but by no means worn out – quite the opposite. We both muse at the beautifully staged Instagram photos and stories posted regularly by exceedingly skinning and gorgeous 20-something girls on white beaches in tropical locations to #inspiringtravelwomen. We suspect our stories and photos will be a tad more realistic – shaken & stirred, tossed & tumbled but hopefully not tangled. At the very least we’ll add a dose of reality back into Instagram and Facebook which I suspect will resonate with the community of readers here. And of course, there will no doubt be stories…

So what hashtags should we use? #InstagramREALITY  #InspiringREALtravelwomen come to mind, but I’m open to ideas! Email me at mary@carryonqueen.com if you’ve got something brilliant, or leave a comment. This could be fun!

Thinking about planning an escape? Feel free to do a little initial research with us. CarryOnQueen.com receives a small affiliate reimbursement at no cost to you which helps us fund the production of content to share with you here.



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