noun - a strong desire to travel.
"The true fruit of travel is perhaps the feeling of being nearly everywhere at home." -Freya Stark
"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The affair is to move." -Robert Lewis Stevenson
Have you ever had the desire to drop everything you are doing and find a road you have yet to travel on? Have you ever found yourself en route to your next appointment or driving to work and wondered where the freeway might take you if you didn't stop driving until you ran out of gas?
When you find yourself comfortably settled in your work/school/life schedule is when your Wanderlust starts calling. A gradual tugging at your soul reminds you that you have never set foot east of the Mississippi River in your adult life. A fractured need to stop looking at the same four walls day after day festers and blooms, consuming your mind until your cubicle walls are plastered with travel brochures from Turks and Caicos, French Polynesia, even from the frozen tundra of Alaska, just to placate your eagerness to be anywhere but here.
So what do you do when Wanderlust traps you in a bubble of distraction? The answer is simple- just go. Or plan to go anyway. Oftentimes planning a vacation, foreign or otherwise, is as satisfying as going on the trip itself. Now, honestly nothing is going to compare to feeling new sand beneath your feet, but I promise there are other benefits to planning your hypothetical vacation. Here's what you do:
Step 1: Get your passport!
If you don't have a passport or if your passport has expired, get it, renew it, cherish it as you would a gold bar. That is the key to your freedom to travel. It takes months for processing here in the US (I don't know what it takes if you're from a different country). But nothing will stop you in your travel tracks faster than not having a passport handy.
Step 2: Choose your destination.
Do you dream of white sand beaches? Mediterranean breezes and sipping sweet drinks by the pool? Or do you dream of adventure? Chasing adrenaline highs from Zip-Lining through a rainforest canopy or white-water rafting? Do you want to be able to comfortably communicate with the locals or do you want to submerge yourself in the culture and learn a new language? Is this a family friendly vacation or an adult only destination? These are all things you consider when you start planning.
Step 3: Choose where you'll stay.
Trip Advisor is essential to choosing not only your hotel stay, but to check out activities in the area. With traveler photos and advice from real travelers, you can plan every detail of your stay. Just don't forget to plan for free time too! And on that note, don't be afraid to go off book when it comes to your actual vacation.
Step 4: Price it out.
This is not exactly an enjoyable part, but it's the part that will make your dream vacation attainable. Once you know how many dollars you're going to be spending, you'll know how many dollars you need to save. As your savings grows, so will your anticipation. What I like to do is save all of my change - it usually gets lost in the couch anyway, right? Side note: Take the time to roll your change and take it to the bank instead of going through Coinstar. They'll take 10% of what you have and you'll be 10% further away from your goal.
Step 5: Practice!
This, my dear, is the best part. Sometimes you need to take small steps to get your momentum going. Search your area for something exciting like a local waterfall hike or the World's Largest Ball of Twine. Nothing is too lame or too close. Get into the habit of breaking your daily monotony and discover something new. And not some new restaurant or a new version of the same thing you've already been doing. The goal is to put yourself in a new situation. Once you get your wheels turning, there will be no stopping you when you're ready for your dream vacation.
Review: Paper Towns by John Green
Margo Roth Spiegelman - Margo Roth Spiegelman is the kind of girl you reference by her full name with a kind of reverence. Her resume of trouble reads like an adventure novel, getting backstage at a concert without an invite, finding a way into Disney World after hours, and traveling hundreds of miles away from home just to see if someone would find her.
Quentin "Q" Jacobsen - Q is a high school senior destined for mediocrity. He follows the rules, gets good grades, is an ideal son to his parents, and is in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman, his neighbor that he hasn't spoken to since he was a kid. His life is predictable and he was satisfied with the monotony until Margo Roth Spiegelman showed up at his window in the middle of the night with black face paint and a plan of revenge.
Marcus "Radar" Lincoln - Radar is best friends with Q and Ben. He spends most of his time editing a website called "omnictionary", which is similar to Wikipedia. He has the most insight into the motivations of his friends and helps Q come to terms with accepting people as they are. Also, to his embarrassment, his parents own the world's largest collection of Black Santas.
Ben Starling - Ben is also one of Q's best friends, but he's also kind of an asshole. It's his last year of school, and his singular motivation is to get "honeybunnies" and a date to Prom. Even when Margo Roth Spiegelman disappears, his first priority is going to Prom, and luckily for him he lands a date with Margo Roth Spiegelman's friend, Lacey Pemberton. At a Prom afterparty, he breaks the record for the longest keg stand in Winter Park History.
Lacey Pemberton - Lacey was Margo Roth Spiegelman's best friend before her disappearance. Lacey starts hanging out with Q and his friends when they go looking for her, and eventually becomes Ben's Prom date and girlfriend.
In the beginning of the novel you're told Margo Roth Spiegelman is Q's miracle and you think to yourself, how could a girl be someone's miracle? Surely this is just a boy with a devastating crush on the girl next door and his sense of what a miracle is must be delusional. But as you get to know Margo Roth Spiegelman, you start to understand why she was Q's miracle.
I think Paper Towns really reaches into the insecurities and inevitabilities of adolescence. From Margo Roth Spiegelman's need for recognition to Q's reluctance to take chances, this book zeroes in on the change from being a teenager to becoming an adult. For Margo Roth Spiegelman it's about moving forward to accept you as you are, and for Q it's about being bold enough to spend time outside of what is cookie-cutter and take chances to find out what it really means to live.
So I understand Margo Roth Spiegelman being Q's miracle, but I also think that Q was Margo Roth Spiegelman's miracle, because he showed her that people can let you down for not being who or what you expect them to be, but you also let yourself down for not accepting them as they are, because sometimes that's exactly who you need them to be.
Book Club Discussion
Below I have put together some questions for discussion. Feel free to answer whichever you want and respond to other readers' comments. If you have any other questions for discussion, feel free to post those too! Click on the topics on the right to find the forum for Paper Towns.
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