Under the microscope: To do or to have done?

Far Horizons by Randy Keck

For countless trips around the sun, my discourse on subjects of interest to international travelers has required constant diligence to keep from lapsing into preaching to the choir. It is my choice to risk that, on this occasion.

Many ITN readers are among the most traveled humans on the planet, while countless others aspire to be included in that grouping. Few of us have completed all of our international travel goals, despite our efforts and intentions, and, for many, even coming close to completing these goals poses an impossible challenge in terms of time and resources.

However, I would ask you this. Is there a special destination that you have been putting off visiting or an activity that you have been waiting to do but for which the right time never seems to come?

Answering this question typically leads to an exercise in values clarification.

The question

Regarding an “if only” trip, the first question of self counsel is, ‘Do I really want to do it?’

It is the case, sometimes, for any number of reasons, that a person is convinced he or she needs to undertake a particular journey.

Perched at the top of many travelers’ lists is ‘taking foreign language instruction outside of the USA.’ But there is a big difference between wishing one had certain foreign language skills and having a true desire and the commitment to undertake the study required to gain such skills. After all, during the time you’re in class studying, you could be out touring instead.

For some, watching a cute, “feel good” movie based in Provence or Tuscany is followed by the desperate yearning to travel to that precise destination to take a cooking class.

I would surmise that, for most, it is because they enjoyed the emotions and, especially, the passions that the movie caused or allowed them to feel. They would like to be seated at the congenial table enjoying the alluring French or Italian meal, languishing in the convivial atmosphere, regardless of whether they had a hand in the cooking or not. Count me in!

Many dream these types of dreams, yet relatively few actually follow through with them.

The test

Arriving at the bottom line regarding the validity of an item on a travel wish list is really fairly simple, although reaching the answer can sometimes be a bit painful.

Is this experience something you really want to do or is it, more, something you would like to have done? An important part of self discovery is gaining a true understanding of the difference between the two goals. The first reflects a passion and thirst for the experience. The second is more of a desire for an impressive travel résumé.

Being able to acknowledge when the latter is the case can greatly assist with the “clarification, letting go and moving on” process. This type of epiphany is a good thing, so welcome it.


A year from today, the Earth will have completed another trip around the sun. If you have a travel aspiration that you have been putting off, one which passes the, above, declared test of passion and thirst for the experience, and if it is within your means, then what are you waiting for? No, really! What are you waiting for?

May you commit as the sun rises and experience before the sun sets.

Keck's Beyond the Garden Wall

❝When we learn about the world, the experience is of no small value
When we learn about ourselves in the process, the experience is invaluable ❞
— Randy Keck