THE BLOG
06/22/2016 02:15 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2017

More Travel Less Armchair

Plan, do, and savor.

The urge to cast a wide net across the world and reel in travel experiences remains strong. Travel is one of the most powerful ways to leave one's comfort zone in a calculated way and be transformed for the better.

I hate to admit that anxiety surrounding this desire has crept in the last 12 months. Suppression of yearning finds me day dreaming or traveling in place through adventures in food, foreign film, art, world music, wine and bubbly.

Ditch the couch. See the world.

Pursuing novelty without physically going far from home provides partial relief, taking less time and money too, but not always. In my own few years of traveling and writing about travel, I have done enough surfing of the web to know there is that moment of truth when conflating armchair travel with the real thing is ridiculous.

Manage the fear, trade in analysis paralysis and venture out. Skipping the action piece is insufficient. Managing anxiety with a research fueled vivid imagination jazzes up the routines of daily life. Some relief is provided, though over-delayed gratification can become boring, and misses the point if not acted upon.

Exposure Therapy for Armchair Travel.

A well-established practice in the cognitive behavioral therapy tool box is Exposure Therapy to deal with incipient and entrenched anxieties. The idea is to submit oneself to whatever frightens one in a safe environment.

Processing the physical and emotional fallout, often with a therapist, is the healing part. Going into states of trauma and coming out can be challenging and refreshing. In this way, one is ready to take on new challenges with better attitude and energy.

Repeated working through trauma lessens its, makes room for new experience, builds confidence, and ultimately wears down the fear until it is manageable. Wiping out fear entirely is not desirable either, doubtful and not the point of this exercise. Keeping ones' cool separates serious travelers from sightseers.

The map is not the territory.

Traveling can be better in retrospect. The power of the positive re-frame, is notable in the film "Life is Beautiful." To be both the little boy and the father comforted by his stories, is to allow oneself to bridge the chasm between expectations and reality. You may suffer disappointments while traveling.

Ultimately you are free to have an experience any way you want it. As happiness scholars attest, people get along better when they share stories. Reminiscing about the past creates happiness; looking forward to and planning for it even more so.

Before internal conflict over leaving California carves out space in me, I prefer to nip the dissonance in the bud. Testing anxieties with interstate trips, intermingled with forays into Mexico, and bigger trips abroad is worth the wait.

5 Ingredients for an ideal itinerary.

Scenery must be drop dead gorgeous. Some sites have been visited and are worth returning. Keen to remember comfort and joy begins and ends in the privacy of your own mind, I admit to aspiring to expensive trips. Questions of value arise. Splurging is tolerated when worth it.

In the end, misery will visit paradise if it is in you. Do not get me wrong, knowing a cozy clean bed and bathroom awaits after a day on the road makes travel easier. To feel alive, in touch with the creative spirit, whole and free is the sweetest spot.

1. Glamping, or lazy camping brings one closer to nature to feel small in a good way. It inspires awe without the effort of pitching a campsite. Lobbies are for lounging afternoons into evening, or after a party at a hotel.

2. Vineyard Hugging Hot Springs - A close runner up is viewing snow-capped mountains while soaking. Slay me. Have you heard, sitting is the new smoking? Getting the kinks out of sitting - an occupational hazard of mine - is a challenge I like to undo on time away.

3. Farm to Table Cuisine - Food eaten and wine imbibed where it is grown is a blessing. Wine tasting in vineyard gardens is exquisite across the board. Grape growing areas are conducive to lovely local produce.

4. Road Tripping - The journey is the destination. It is grand to have the option of starting and stopping, or taking detours, when you want or need to. Trains and ferries are nice too. Driving trips make it much easier to flaneur and take along the family pooch.

5. Art Museums - An entire subculture of excellent smaller regional and private museums exists, often in the middle of nowhere, from Marfa, Texas, to East Hampton, Long Island. The Fred Weisman awaits close to home.

Wish List Itineraries

#1
Luxury Camping at the Resort at Paws Up has it all from a great name and location to a personal camping butler. Take a horseback ride before or after fishing, hiking, plein air painting and writing around a campfire.

Off campus, the nascent wine scene of Missoula could be interesting in the Anthropocene. Nearby Quinn's Springs looks great on a budget.

#2
Spa-tels in Desert Hot Springs and the impressive Palm Springs Museum of Art, Pappy and Harriet's for dining and dancing to live bands near Joshua Tree.

#3
Lake Tahoe in summer is delightful. Driving between Yosemite and Death Valley, squeezed into the snow tipped Eastern Sierras are wild flower havens, the Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties. Notable parks are small, like iconic Red Rock Canyon, not as bright as Sedona, or much of Utah (St. George, Mt. Zion) with beautiful drippy rock formations.

Indian Wells Brewing should not be missed for artesian well water sodas and beers before tent camping at historic Keough's warm springs and/or drive two hours further on at Benton. . On the way to Tahoe you can lunch at Epic Cafe in Lee Vining, overlooking Lake Mono.

Drive home through Placerville and El Dorado wine country. Notable was Findleton and Illuminare. Artichoke pesto and raviolis in lemon sauce is four star dining for a two star price at Crystal Basin Bistro.

#4
For break away weekends, hands down our destination is Paso Robles. The Paso Robles Inn is intriguing. The Franklin scene is native, the River Oaks pristine. Sycamore Springs down the road in Avila is worth the detour.

Setting the intention for 2017

#1
Next year one should be able to water taxi from San Francisco and bike the Napa Valley Vine Trail before heading to Calistoga for a mud bath.

#2
For Mexico, further exploring Baja Wine Country, where Napa was 20 years ago, is on the agenda.

#3
The TGV direct from Paris to Le Cite du Vin next year will deliver one to an exciting new wine museum in Bordeaux, a city making a comeback. From the Cite looking like wine swishing in the glass to an exhibit I must see, the re-creation of a first century Roman cantina, the excitement is palpable. A few glamping sites are available on Glamping Hub.

#4
Last, but not least, is the La Brasca family reunion in Sicily.

A trip back to South America beckons, as does Africa and India. It will be my pleasure to let you know how it goes.

Disclaimer Alert: At no time this blog be taken as a substitute for psychotherapy. If you, or someone you know, is suicidal do not hesitate to reach out to a professional or trusted family member or friend for help.

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If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.