GeoVisions Blog

You Say Goodbye And I Say Hello (Part II)

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Jan 16, 2014

Image of someone saying goodbyeOn March 5, 2007, I wrote a Blog post entitled "You Say Goodbye And I Say Hello."  I was on an airplane when I wrote the post, and it was all about how difficult it is to say "goodbye" to those we love when we travel and at the same time, how exciting it is to be headed to a new place.  When you volunteer abroad for a few months or teach abroad for a year ... saying goodbye is different than leaving for a 5-day cruise. Imagine my shock the other day to find that since writing that post, 5,893 people have read it.  It is the 4th most popular article we ever published, and our Blog is in its 7th year.

A few days ago I was lucky enough to stumble upon a post I really liked.  It was on the National Geographic Blog, Travel With Heart.  The post I liked is entitled, "Dreaming of the Devil: The Joy Of Going Back".  It was posted by Ben Long on January 10, 2014.

Mr. Long begins his piece with, "It’s not true that travelers have a “list” of places to see and, once they’ve checked off every box, hang up their knapsacks. When you’re traveling, you’re constantly adding to your list. Every casual conversation with fellow wayfarers introduces a world of possibility when your life is strapped to your back."

I had just written a post at the end of December about my Travel Patty awards and the dubious things people do with travel.  One was "country counting."  You know, those people who want to see every country on the planet and the only reason is to say they were there.  Maybe just a stop over on their way to somewhere else.  But they can honestly count that country.

I take issue with that practice because at the very least, we always want to leave something better than we found it and saying you were in a country for 24 hours really isn't doing that.  It's basically telling me how far you can pee, and challenging me to pee further.  As I get older, it is crystal clear to me ... it is never about the quantity, it is always about the quality.

So ... there are some places I've been that are places where I want to return (many times).  Perhaps I'm interested in how the place has changed.  Or I want to see if I can capture the feeling I remember when I was there the first time.

But Mr. Long's article got me to thinking about those "Country Counters" out there and all those people who keep moving forward without taking some real quality time to take a few steps back.  Not that everyone should lead their life the way I lead mine ... God forbid.  But you can go home ... even if for a very short time.  Yes, it's true ... you say goodbye and I say hello!

Here is my top five list of places I want to wander again.  If you don't mind, would you use the Comments section below to put a few of the places you want to return to, or have?  I'd like to publish a long list of the places where others have said goodbye, but where you want to say hello (again).

  1. Dingle, Ireland
  2. Boscastle and Tintagel, England
  3. Beirut, Lebanon (and while I'm in the area, I'd love to visit Damascus, Syria again)
  4. Steinach, Austria
  5. Kyoto, Japan
Take a look at Mr. Long's article while you're at it, please.  He presents several great reasons to return to those places where you've traveled ... to say "hello."

Tags: Travel Ideas, Destinations

Peek Travel App - Book Amazing Activities

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Dec 18, 2013

So ...

You're in the middle of Conversation Corps-France, living in Lyon, and your host family has told you it's fine to take a 3-day weekend to Paris.  You text your friend who is on the same program in a small town nearby.  It's a perfect opportunity to get to Paris by 10:00 a.m. on Friday and return to Lyon by 8:00 p.m. Sunday night.  And you have a travel buddy.

So what are you two going to do?

Ah ... you check the online GeoVisions community and chat with people who are already in Paris (or who have also spent a 3-day weekend there) and you check in with our office and your local coordinator about things to do.

Peek AppThen your friend takes out her iPhone and taps her Peek app.

"Peek is your one-stop shop to discover and book amazing activities! The New York Times called Peek 'a site you want to visit again and again', and TIME Magazine selected it as one of its top travel tools. Whether it’s going swimming with sharks or eating your way through a local culinary walking tour, Peek has selected the highest quality activities at the best prices guaranteed. "

When you first open the Peek app, you’ll take a quiz to discover your travel persona. Then you’ll receive personalized activity recommendations, handpicked by Peek just for you! 

This app is the perfect companion to a GeoVisions program.

Don't have an iPhone?  If you have any tablet or laptop while your're traveling, this link will take you to the desktop site and you can use Peek there.  In Paris already?  That's OK.  Book activities on the go.

CEO Ruzwana Bashir was named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in 2013.

Only London and Paris is listed as cities abroad right now.  Peek has focused on areas of the US for its launch. Give them a little time and more International sites will be available.

What other areas would you like to see Peek add?

Tags: Travel Ideas, The Well Prepared Traveler, Destinations, Travel Apps

10 Reasons You Should Take A Gap Year

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Dec 02, 2013

Gap Year students in PeruIn an article I saw on the Huffington Post by Suzy Strutner, I was interested in why students should take a Gap Year.  Suzy lists the 10 Reasons You should Take A Gap Year in her post.  And at the end of the post she gives the top 10 destinations for a Gap Year.

Reason number one is college performance.  US News writes that "College admission officials have become more accepting of the gap year over the past several years. Some even encourage their admitted students to take one. For more than 30 years, Harvard's acceptance letters have included a suggestion that students take time off before enrolling."

Reason number two is that the Gap Year might help you decide what you want to do with your life or what you really do want to study in college.  Academic Advising at the Univeristy of Oregon suggests that "Many students are undecided about their majors when they enter college - and many who are decided change their minds more than once before they graduate (an average of three times)."  Think of all the time and tuition money you will save if you take a Gap Year and realize what you want to do before you start your first class.

Anyway, Suzy lists out eight more reasons to take a Gap Year in her post.

If anyone is interested, here are the top 10 destinations for Gap Years.  We added the programs we operate in each of the countries, where applicable.  A $ symbol indicates participants earn a salary or stipend during the program:

  Conversation Corps
  Paid Teacher  $
  Summer Camp Counselor  $

  Au Pair  $
  Environmental Issues 


South Africa
  Lion Conservation
  Protecting the Cheetah 

  Conversation Corps
  Health and Wellness
  Kindergarten Community Work 


  Conversation Corps
  Keeping Children Off The Streets 


New Zealand
  Au Pair  $
  Protecting The Environment 


Read Suzy's article on the Huffington Post

Tags: Travel Ideas, Destinations, Gap Year

What Is Your Ultimate Travel Destination?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Nov 21, 2013

travel mapWhere do you want to go?  Where have you been?  Have you read 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz?  Did you find yourself adding destinations of your own?

I just looked at my profile over on Where I've Been, and I was shocked to see that I've only been to 8% of the world.  I'd think on my bucket list would be a goal of 20%.  And even then ... to see only 20% of the planet on which I live?  How disappointing.

I was fascinated to read a post on National Geographic entitiled The Ultimate Travel Destination: Home.  In the post by Robert Reid of Reid on Travel in Travel with Heart on October 11, 2013, he makes a case that the ultimate destination is ... home.

Of course, I find it very cool that Mr. Reid is from my home state of Oklahoma.  Tulsa to be exact, where I'm going to be spending my Thanksgiving week.

As Alain de Botton put it in The Art of Travel“The pleasure we derive from journey is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”  Reid goes on further to write, "That’s a mindset that can only form abroad – like a muscle built from exercise — and that finds its greatest purpose once back home."

Read more from the original post...

What do you think?  Do you agree that the ultimate travel destination is home?  What is home, exactly?  What is your ultimate travel destination?

Tags: Travel Ideas, Travel Is Transforming, Destinations