Complete my bucket list? It’s more likely that I’ll be Dancing with the Stars.
When I completed the first draft (on the back of a Red Robin cocktail napkin), I was giddy with possibility. That was ten years ago and life is constantly putting up roadblocks.
Since I lack a trust fund and have a full-time job, both my money and vacation time are limited. I’ve managed to pull off a couple – an Alaskan cruise, house boating on Lake Powell, hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail – but I’m accepting that many on my list aren’t going to happen. Unless I strike Mega Millions gold.
But I’m not ready to admit defeat and believe there’s a way to bucket list vicariously. To prove my theory, I’ve turned for assistance to Joy Weese Moll, a librarian book blogger and Huffington Post contributor.
Boomers and millenials are beginning to panic about their bucket lists. With limited time and money for travel, is it possible to complete a virtual trip-of-a-lifetime at your local library?
Of course! Armchair travel is a long and grand tradition, presumably going back to a time when ramblers shared their adventures beside a campfire in front of a cave dwelling. In modern times, we can make virtual trips using stories, photographs, music, and film from the library.
Tell me more about the resources you can find at the library to create a virtual bucket list adventure.
Look for coffee table books with large-scale photographs, nonfiction books (I especially like books written by journalists or historians), and novels set in that virtual destination. Many libraries have books in multiple formats these days – print, large print, audio, e-book, and e-audio book. Choose your favorite!
Besides books, many libraries have substantial video collections that include documentaries and foreign films. Libraries also provide CDs so your reading can be accompanied by music of the region.
Take a look at the databases and software offered on your library’s website. You can collect magazine articles about your destination, explore interactive and multimedia encyclopedia entries, and maybe even learn a new language.
I’ve taken a couple of big, bucket list trips and was overwhelmed. Would a virtual adventure help me develop any skills I could use to ease my planning anxiety?
I can think of three areas where a virtual trip can provide confidence for a real one:
Packing. The more you know of a place, the better you’re able to make decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. Even fiction can help, here. If a character is constantly running in and out of a pharmacy, then I know I don’t have to pack my whole medicine cabinet just in case of a minor medical emergency.
Place-finding. By reading a book with a map in hand (or on the computer), I familiarize myself with the landscape. My ability to use that map is improved – and, also, my ability to find my way based on the map in my head.
Communicating. Travel, whether virtual or real-life, exposes us to new cultures. The more we understand different cultures, the better we can communicate with others, even across language barriers. French movies, for example, show all the steps of a polite interchange with a Parisian shopkeeper – several steps more than we typically take in the U.S.
I’m ready to go! Can you give me some itineraries for virtual bucket list adventures?
Sure! How about a visit to the Galápagos Islands? You’ll want to read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin – I promise it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. The Galápagos: Exploring Darwin’s Tapestry by John Hess, a stunning coffee table book with excellent scientific explanations, is a helpful companion to Darwin’s own words. For something a little different, try Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Galápagos, where a vacation cruise becomes the apocalyptic event for a new turn in human evolution. Film documentaries on the Galápagos are readily available – check out the one distributed by BBC World.
Alternatively, let’s take an exotic journey along Asia’s Silk Road. Let’s start with a musical soundtrack for this one – Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet by Yo-Yo Ma. Add a classic poem – “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Coleridge. Now let’s put a little realism onto our dream; two books I’d recommend are Marco Polo: The Journey That Changed the World by John Man and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta by Jen Lin-Liu. Now, we’ve got all the atmosphere of traveling the Silk Road, complete with food!
I’m ready to go! No packing. No worries about using up all my vacation days. There’s just one problem. I’ll have to clear up those pesky overdue book fines.
Joy’s Book Blog hosts British Isles Friday every week featuring book and film reviews, photographic trip reports, and other posts by a variety of bloggers about Great Britain and Ireland.