I’ve rarely been so sorry to be right.
January 2020, at our annual Rick Steves’ Europe annual guide conference, they asked me to say something about preparing tour members for the crowds. Those were the days-months-years of thriving throbbing mass tourism, crowds stretching down the blocks to fill museums, cathedrals, and restaurants to their concrete gills, and a big part of a guide’s job was keeping people sane in the fleshy press. Apparently some of my people had reported that I’d helped with that, so they asked me to say how.
I can’t remember everything I said, but it included that massive crowds were a symptom of safety and at least reasonably abundant economic wellbeing. I think I said something like “The only things that will reduce these crowds are fear and hardship, so war, natural disaster, pandemic, something like that. So I encourage people to be grateful for the crowds.”
Did I jinx it?
This morning I’m resisting the same superstition. But I can’t hold it back. It’s just too good. Should I stop? Delete this draft? No. Let’s go for it. It’s time. Ready? I am.
I leave for Europe in two hours. In about a week I’ll start my first tour in 2.5 years, and keep it up for two months, taking people from my old stomping grounds in Belgium, up to Amsterdam, down to Rome, across to Paris, and so many wonderful places in between. I expect to cry regularly, particularly on the 21-day route.
After that, I’ll take a week to research a second independent tour I’m putting together (hopefully for a proper debut soon!), and then I have a one-way ticket to Kyrgyzstan. Because it’s time to travel again. Time to expand and reach out, learn and push what was comfortable, time to let new places into our minds and hearts. I might come back in July. Or October. I don’t know yet.
I don’t really sleep the night before a trip begins. But when I woke up this morning with that Tom Petty travel verse in my mind, it was a good day already.
It’s time to move on. Time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing.
But under my feet, baby, the grass is growing. So it’s time to move on. It’s time to get going.