A couple decade or more ago during the work-lull between Christmas and New Year's Day I began making up a travel wish list. It was most often scribbled on a scrap of paper that I tucked in my desk drawer. In most years I never looked at it again until the next year when it was time make up a new wish list. It was my adult version of a letter to Santa Claus, dutifully filled out but never mailed. Even so, in most years, I'd always get to cross at least one destination off my wish list.
Then one year Sally McKinney, a writer I worked with as a photographer, casually asked me where I'd like go on assignment in the coming year. I did a mental review of the travel wish list tucked in my desk drawer and came up with Hawaii, Montana, Russia, Brazil and half dozen other places that consistently fascinated me. The reasons the locations made my list were varied and random. Montana was the only state in West I hadn't visited and Hawaii was a placed I'd been many times but knew it had much more to offer than I'd so far discovered. I'd been drawn to Russia since my childhood because my brother had studied Russian in college and Russia's featured prominently in my childhood consciousness as our Cold War nemesis. Brazil was a new fascination, though the Amazon River caught my attention during a movie titled "The Pirates of Blood River" that featured prominently in my nightmares well into my adult life.
I noticed that something amazing happened over the next 2-3 years. First Sally called to ask me if I''d like me to photograph for her in Hawaii for a food and wine article. Then 6 months later the annual trips Montana for newspaper articles began, the first about the Robert Redford movie "A River Runs Through It." Soon she asked me to collaborate on whitewater rafting story in Costa Rica. Costa Rica wasn't even on my wish list but I an not dogmatic about these things, I am pretty flexible about my list which is good because the company I worked with in Costa Rica hired me the next year to go Russia for them and another company saw my images from Russia and hired me to photograph their river cruise in Ukraine.
Of course there were several assignments that weren't on my wish list but they should have been, places like Finland and South Beach, Florida that should have been on that list and return visits Alaska and New Mexico. There were many minor successes along the way. I crossed off all but 3 US states from my travel list and got the opportunity photograph the Sandhill Crane migration in my home state of Nebraska and to take a llama tour in my adopted home state of Colorado.
A couple years later Sally called with a 10-day assignment in Brazil. In one of the saddest, most regretted decisions if my travel life I turned this job over to an associate because I already had a better paying gig in Colorado. Be forewarned: don't mess with the TravelWishList gods because it took me nearly 10 years to get another opportunity to travel to Brazil.
You might have thought I'd be bright enough to see the connection between sharing my wish list with Sally and higher incidence of hits in my list but I guess I am a liiiitttllle sssslllooooow. I put it down to Sally simply being aware of my preferences and nothing more.
I pretty much went back to putting my wish list in the desk drawer, keeping my travel dreams to myself.. That was until Twitter caught my attention in 2009. For some unknown reason I began sharing snippets of my desk drawer list in tweets. But this time I saw the global significance of casting my #TravelWishList to the winds and waiting for the travel gods to hear my travel prayers.
Now this year I am codifying it and sharing it far and wide. I am breaking it down into 13-4-'13 top travel destinations for this year. I'm also listing 6 islands and 6 places in the US that I have never visited. So that makes 25 places. As a bonus I'm listing 6 places I have already visited but long to visit again. Plus a list of a few places in Colorado and neighboring states that are my favorites and one place in Colorado, that 35 years after moving here, I have yet to visit.
Here is the list of candidates (in alphabetical order) that I came up with from which my 2013 Travel Wish List is selected. Are your favorites on the list?
#Alaska #Antarctica #Argentina #Austria #Azores #Bali #Bhutan #BoraBora #Botswana #Brazil #BritishVirginIslands #Canada #CanaryIslands #Chile #Cuba #CostaRica #EasterIsland #Egypt #England #Estonia #France #Fiji Islands #Galapagos Islands #Greece #Guam #Iceland #India #Ireland #Italy #Jordan #Kamchatka Peninsula #Kenya #Kyrgyzstan #Madagascar #Maldives #MarquesasIslands #Mauritius #Mexico #Mongolia #Morocco #Myanmar #Nepal #NewZealand #Norway #Panama #PapuaNewGuinea #Peru #Portugal #Romania #Russia #Seychelles #Islands #SouthAfrica #Spain #Sumatra #Sweden #Switzerland #Tahiti #Tanzania #Trinidad & #Tobago #Thailand #Tibet #Togo #Turkey #Venezuela
Curious facts: There were no places on my list that started with D, H, L, O, Q, U, W, X, Y, or Z. Do you have recommendations that begin with this letter?
The letter with the most destinations in "T" with seven. "S" is second with six.
Eleven are in the Pacific and fourteen on the Pacific Rim. North America had the fewest locations with 3 but if you count the Caribbean you get 6 and what continent is Iceland associated with anyway? Seventeen are in Europe. Seven are part of South America. Nine are in Asia. Two are in Central America. Eight are in Africa. Twenty-two are islands.
Sally McKinney's recent article about Dancing in Peru on Your Life's A Trip Blog - What If Something Happens?
Jerome also writes for Travel Boldly and blogs and tweets all over the web.
Photography and text copyright Jerome Shaw 2011 / www.jeromeshaw.com.
This article and photos may not be reposted or reproduced without prior written permission from the author. Please contact Jerome on Twitter at @JeromeShaw or find him on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Travel.Writer.Photographer