2011 YIR: Travel

I like statistics. Numbers, percentages, graphs, random factoids–they tickle my brain. So I guess I could report some statistics on my travel experiences from the last year. If had design skills, maybe I’d make an infographic. I love infographics too.

I have put about 15,000 miles on my car in the last 12 months (usually, I only put about 12,000 in a year). This included two and a half round trips between Virginia and Michigan and a round trip to the UP. I would say I have 175+ hours of road trip time (not all in my car) since the end of July alone.

I’ve flown almost 28,000 miles this year, 33 individual flight segments. All on Delta except a last minute trip to Maryland earlier this month. Not that much air travel compared to some people in my circles, but this year is definitely first or second in terms of amount of air time I’ve had.

I took a train this year too. I think only once (well, twice if you count each leg of the round trip, three times if you count each segment). In Norway, this November.

No boats this year. Oh wait, yes! I went on a Lake Michigan brunch cruise for Vanessa’s bachelorette party this summer.

If my calculations are correct, I’ve spent 98 days (that’s almost 27%) sleeping away from home (which also changed over the year). That doesn’t include several day trips. I think this means I’ve spent close to a third of the year on the go. No wonder I’m always tired. February, August, November, and December are the months spent with the most days away.

My travels this year took me to 24 states and three countries. I’d not been to two of the countries before: Norway and the Netherlands. I don’t know that the Netherlands counts…I was in the airport the whole time. And I’d not been to four of the states before: Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Mississippi. I’m excited, now I only have 13 more states to go before I’ve visited every one in the country.

Of my trips, the most celebratory were the weddings: Vanessa and Moses, Keren and Casey, and Walter and Alie, all within 8 days of each other in June, and Sebastien and Candis in July.

The most random was the CAMPUS Winter Retreat in February at Camp Au Sable. I was still living in Virginia and had a paper due the following Tuesday. The trip to the CAMPUS Fall Retreat was a great trip, not as random, but I brought my younger cousin Kelly along, so it was a great time.

The most inspirational was to Norway, meeting young people from all over Europe wanting to do something in their home countries and on their continent. This is what they have in mind to do.

The most epic was to New York City (well, Long Island). My mom, my aunt, my grandma, and me. Three and a half Cubans locked in a car for 24 hours (round trip) over 6 days. We survived.

The most awesome: The UP. Seriously, Lower Michigan is pretty, the UP is gorgeous. I love it. And watching my friends run a half ironman triathlon? It was AWESOME!

The longest was to Arizona. It was also the best all-around in terms of experiences gained, new cultures exposed to, and ministry and service.

The most relaxing was to the Outer Banks in North Carolina on a beach vacation with three good girl friends from law school.

The most clandestine was…oh wait, I can’t tell you that.

And the funniest? Quick trip back to Virginia in October. One word: eyeballs.

The problem with statistics is they do not capture individual experiences. And neither does a rough summary of the numbers of my year’s travels. Space does not allow for detailed accounts of each of the trips I went on. But I think the biggest thing I learned on these trips is “why travel.” I mean, have you ever asked why bother going? Until this year, I don’t think I had. But when you’re spending multiple weekends in a row on the road, you can’t help but to wonder what the utility in expending the time and energy to go somewhere else is.

Especially when you realize all of the technological advances we have today: Skype, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, conference calls. Can’t we just find a technological way to communicate? But this year I realized the reason we travel is because there are certain things that cannot be achieved over the phone, by email, through letter. You literally need to go there–whether it’s to take a vacation or seal a deal. It’s about that personal contact with the other.

In the wake of the Christmas season, I guess this hits even closer to home. God continued to interact with humanity after the Fall through His word and by His prophets. But that wasn’t enough. So He traveled from heaven, took on humanity, and lived with us. And He will continue to keep our form throughout eternity.

So next year (eh, this year now, I guess), when I’m tempted to complain about traveling, about how tired I am, how much I want to be home, I’ll remember that Jesus made even greater sacrifices to come to this earth so we one day may be with Him. If my travels can help people come to understand the incredible move He made just a little better, it’s well worth it.

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