In the James Turrell Skyspace at San Francisco's cool de Young Museum
Months ago, a New York Times writer asked me to comment on the trend of people traveling as a way to mark special events, such as birthdays. I wasn't convinced it was a trend, but I agreed anyway. (It was the Times!) Then, in the middle of the interview, I remembered that I was about to go to L.A., with friends from Boston, to celebrate two birthdays. I went from being a skeptic to being a poster child.
Now, looking back at 2007, I realize that the vast majority of my trips were as much about being with people I care about as they were about the destination. I took my sister, Molly, on her first trip to Europe. My friend Shawnda and I had a hoot driving around southern Wisconsin (more on that in an upcoming issue). And I spent Labor Day weekend exploring San Francisco with my partner, Adam, and his grandmother, Marilyn. (I should be such a traveler when I'm in my 80s.)
The trend is clearly about much more than just birthdays: Travel is an ideal way to carve out time so we can focus on people who matter to us, without the constant distractions of daily life. The fact that families are more spread out than they used to be is certainly a factor in the trend. Besides, meeting up somewhere new is exciting for everyone, which helps explain the rise of destination weddings—I went to two of those this year—and girlfriend getaways. When you travel, you tend to savor every moment in a way that you don't always do at home. Best of all, no one has to act as the host.
From all of us at Budget Travel, here's hoping that the coming year brings you many opportunities to spend time—traveling and otherwise—with the people you love.