Direct from the District
Ok, this is the plan.
My goal is to visit all 56 international destinations served by Washington, D.C. In his book, The Happiness of Pursuit, Chris Guillebeau recommends placing a time limit on the quest, as a strategy to actually accomplishing the mission. I've thought about this in regards to my quest - how many trips is it reasonable for me to take a year? How will I afford it? On the one hand, if I make it too broad (such as before I die, which will ideally be in about 50 years), it won't make as compelling reading if I try to do it before I'm 40 (in 18 months).
These are the parameters of the quest I've come up with - I reserve the right to tweak them as needed, the further we get into this project.
1) Fly directly to 56 international locations serviced by the DC-metro area airports.
2) Spend a minimum of 24-hours in each location, in which I must sleep, eat, and have at least one cultural experience.
3) Before or during each trip, I will read at least one book (other than a guidebook) about the location to give my experience a little bit of a deeper context.
3) Document the project through updating this website and social media.
4) As a secondary project, document direct domestic flights and land travel trips possible from DC.
5) Complete the project before my 45th birthday - which is 6 years and a few months away.
I haven't quite worked out the financial logistics yet - but I have a knack for finding affordable plane tickets, and given this project, I assume I'll get a lot better! To meet the goal, I'll need to visit 1-2 locations a month, on average.
Up until recently, my goals have largely been career-oriented. So intense was my ambition, I managed to complete two Master of Science degrees and work for 15 years in positions that I loathed before it occurred to me to do something else. When I was 37, I realized that if I didn't make changes, I would be in the exact same place when I was 40, which was terrifying, yet motivating. I quit my job and began transitioning out of the career entirely. After wandering the career wilderness for the last year and making some overdue lifestyle changes, it comes down to this: writing about travel is what I've always wanted to do. If not now, then when?
But why DFTD?
Direct international flights are desirable for obvious reasons. Less airport agony, more travel fun!
There is a romance about hopping on a plane and getting off somewhere new and exotic. It reminds me of staring up at the Destinations/Arrivals board in European train stations. The opportunities seem endless - should I go to Prague, or wait, what do I know about Luxembourg?
When I first started planning this project, I was delighted to see the diverse locations I could fly to directly from D.C. Researching the cities I was less familiar with, I saw that Saudi Arabia, a country not known for accommodating solo female travelers, had three cities on the list. That's when I realized that this project could also be a study of our world's interconnectedness. Even if the technology is able to bridge geographic distances, cultural gaps and understanding still persist. And isn't that why travel is so important?