An exercise in optimism

By Caitlin Kelly

I have my new passport in hand now — and it’s good for ten years.

I hope I am!

Lake Massawippi, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada

Acquiring a new passport really is an exercise in optimism, as international travel, (all travel, really) always requires three key elements:

Good health

Jose and I are now at an age we read the obituaries and keep finding people our age, and younger, who have lost their lives prematurely, most often to cancer and heart attacks. We pray for continued good health, without which travel — let alone anything else — is out of the question.

Co. Donegal, Ireland, June 2015


This is such a privilege!

So many people work in jobs, sometimes multiple jobs, that allow them little to no paid time off, or are too scared to actually take their paid vacation or — worst — insist in answering work-related demands even while they are supposed to be resting and recharging.

Jose and I both work full-time freelance and are only paid when we work; i.e. no paid vacation days, ever. Every day we take off without pay means we have to make it up somehow, since our overhead costs are fixed.

A cup of tea at the Ritz in London, January 2015

Disposable income

Another mark of privilege.

Many people just can’t afford to go anywhere a passport is needed, i.e. to leave the United States (or their home country) — poorly paid or unemployed or beggared by debt service.

We don’t have children or dependent relatives, so we have more options in this regard.

Of course, travel and adventure can also be found and enjoyed close(r) to hand, exploring your own neighborhood, town/city/state/province. Both my native Canada and adopted U.S. are enormous, tremendously varied and filled with alluring places to visit.

The places in Canada I still want to see include Newfoundland, P.E.I. and some more of the Far North.



In the U.S., I hope to visit Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and several more national parks. I really want to do a driving trip the length of California. I’d like to visit Portland, Oregon, where we have several good friends.


It’s a very long list of places I’ve yet to see, including Japan, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, South Africa, Namibia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, islands of the South Pacific, Antarctica, Lebanon, Greece, Croatia, Finland, Iceland and Morocco.

Where do you want to travel to next and why?

16 thoughts on “An exercise in optimism

  1. Funny you should mention it, my dad and I are actually planning a trip together. We’re still in the early stages of planning, but it looks like we may be going to either Massachusetts or Colorado. And get this: depending on where we go, we will visit one or two haunted places. My dad is getting out of his comfort zone! And either way, I’m very excited. πŸ™‚

  2. Living in Europe we are lucky to be able to take short breaks to amazing places without breaking the bank. This year we’ve decided to do something completely different though: we are going to Curacao for Christmas with my Canadian family. Other than that, the Maldives are high on our list and we want to do a longer trip to Australia and New Zealand one of these years.

    1. Sigh…:-) It’s one of the greatest advantages of European life, not having to cross an ocean to get somewhere!

      Curacao sounds fantastic as do the Maldives. I read travel sections avidly, and the Maldives get a lot of attention.

      I did get to Oz and NZ in 1998. Well worth it. I preferred NZ.

      1. Unfortunately the flipside is that if I want to see my family and friends back in T.O., I do have to cross an ocean. Interesting your feedback on NZ — if it were up to my husband we’d give Oz a miss and go straight there. Thanks for sharing!

      2. True. I have long planned to retire, even PT, in France — but not a fan of long flights and have good friends in Toronto and B.C….and some in NY. We’ll see when that day comes. (Vite, vite!!!!)

        Skip Oz. I didn’t like Sydney (gasp) and loved Melbourne but found NZ (I only did North Island) much better — very kind people, gorgeous place, great food.

  3. i’m so glad you have your new passport in hand, with times like these, nothing is certain. like you, i have many places on my list, some near, some far. in the states, the next thing i’d love to do is a cross-country train trip. also the pacific northwest, new mexico, and the carolinas. would also love a canadian train trip, also victoria and banff. cuba, iceland, viietnam are still on my list as well, the more i see, the more i read, the more my list grows. )

    1. So true!

      That train trip is a MUST do. So so beautiful. It really is one of the highlights of my life (and it only happened in an emergency because I had to get fast and affordably from Ohio to B.C. for a surgery for my mother, then back to NY.)

      New Mexico is simply spectacular…Jose was born and raised in Santa Fe so we’ve been there a few times. I love it. (The Georgia O’Keefe Museum stands on his former home, his father’s church and rectory.)

      Banff is also amazing — only 2 hrs out of Calgary, so super accessible. Treat yourself to the Banff Springs Hotel. πŸ™‚ I did a week there in March 2011.

  4. I’ve never been to Asia. Would love to visit Japan and Vietnam.

    Not interested in Australia. I could be mistaken, but I see it as a blend of the States, Canada and Britain.

    Dying to return to Barbados in the winter months. Used to go there with my parents.

    Never been to any of the Scandinavian countries. Would love to visit Stockholm….but I keep ending up in London!!

    In the winter, I’d like to view the northern lights in Norway. And lastly, visit the Baltic region and Riga, Latvia where my grandfather is from.

    1. Yes to Japan, for sure. Everyone I know who’s been there RAVES about Tokyo….13 hrs from NY. Oy!

      Australia was not my favorite — after 21 hrs in the air.

      Stockholm was fantastic (in November!) and I am dying to return in summer.

  5. Marion

    Would love to revisit the States and explore some eastern places like New York, Washington and Boston and maybe head south. In the good old days (2015) had wonderful 2 months exploring the South West and visiting friends in California and Illinois. Now it feels a bit uncertain to attempt your borders even if you are white, older and from a supposed friendly country. But who knows what craziness. Canada looks tempting, back to Europe – sigh – time, money, health. Meantime we’ll jump from New Zealand to Australia this winter and explore Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

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