Travel Shortlist – MALTA: Why I Want to Go

Travel Shortlist – MALTA: Why I Want to Go

​I would love to visit Malta. You may be thinking, “Never heard of it!” or “Why Malta?” Well, read on friends and I will tell you why Malta is in the top ten of my Travel Shortlist

​Located off the coast of Sicily in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, the Maltese archipelago is comprised of several islands, three of which are inhabited. These three islands, Malta, Gozo, and Comino, are delightful destinations for tourists with their high coastline cliffs and captivating historical charm.

In additon to Malta’s beaches, I would definitely want to visit the Azure Window. This iconic limestone formation is located in Dwerja Bay and sits in the famed Inland Sea. Also on my list would be the salt pans, located around Xwieni Harbour. I would love to kayak the Blue Grotto and swim in Comino’s Blue Lagoon. I would definitely take in the ancient ruins of Mdina as well as the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples, which are some of the oldest prehistoric structures in the world. Also of interest to some of us: Malta and Gozo were used as locations for filming Game of Thrones!

Unfortunately within the last few years, the Azure Window has begun to show stark signs of deterioration. Despite NGO warnings to make it a no-go zone before it is completely lost, the Malta Tourism Authority hasn’t the resources to enforce this request.

While visiting Malta, I would want a luxurious apartment on the beach or in the heart of things where I could wander the cobblestone streets. Or perhaps I’d prefer somewhere quieter with amazing views of the countryside. To find the perfect accommodations in Malta, I would depend on Chestertons. Wherever I stay, I know that everything is only a bus or ferry ride away on the islands of Malta.

This is an editorial collaboration that contains affiliate links but opinions are always honest and my own.
Are you convinced yet? Have you been to Malta? Comment below with your suggestions of things I shouldn’t miss while visiting Malta!  

Bucket List, Schmucket List!

If you love travel, you most certainly have places around the world that you dream about visiting. Perhaps this is a place you have always longed to go or it may be brand new to you. You also probably have some activities you want to try or some other goal to accomplish in your travels; this could be bungee jumping or sandboarding, or maybe it’s living abroad for a period of time. For me, it’s snorkeling and scuba diving… but more on that in another post! 

I definitely have a list like this, that holds all of my wildest travel dreams. Some folks call this a bucket list while others despise this term! I am not a huge fan of it myself and so have been searching for another way to refer to it. I have lots of to-do lists but those seem like such a drag, so I decided not to call it that. I read some other blogs about this very topic to get some ideas. Bailey from Travel Heals blog makes a strong argument against the term “Bucket List”. In her recent HuffPo article, Sierra Donahue of Take Me With You blog hits the nail on the head with her criticisms of “To-Do List” and Beth of Wanderlust and Lipstick even gives you some alternative ideas to “Bucket List”. Perhaps I should go “Awesome-Kick Ass-Adventures-To-Go-On List” like Tom and Anna from Adventure in You blog!

For now, I will simply settle on Travel Shortlist.

I am a person of action, a creator. I make things happen and “shortlist” feels actionable and intentional. It feels like I can achieve the things on it. And SOON. I am a planner and a visual learner, so putting goals down on paper always helps me to believe I can reach them (and I do as evidenced by the three degrees, home, and successful career!). I’ve decided to put a time frame on the items on the shortlist of 3-5 years. That way I feel I am accountable for reaching those goals in a reasonable amount of time. But because I want to see just about every corner of the Earth and I clearly can’t achieve all that in five years (remember that job and mortgage I was talking about before?), of course I had to create a Longlist for things that are further away for me, or frankly, less important to me. But since all of my goals didn’t fit neatly onto these two lists, there had to be something in-between and that one I call my Midlist.

​So I thought I would give you a peek at what’s on my Shortlist, Midlist, and Longlist – they are not comprehensive because, well, I have to sleep at some point today. I thought sharing them would be even more encouragement for me to complete them. In addition, I’ve decided to start blogging  about the items on my lists to share my research and planning process, as well as the great resources that I find along the way.

​I purposely am not numbering the items on the lists and they are presented below in no particular order (except for being short, mid, or long goals). This is because I am also an opportunist and if the occasion arises for me to go to a place on the Longlist ahead of originally planned, you bet your ass I will do it – and you should too! This is another reason I decided to label these lists as I did: I didn’t want to be tied down by a to-do list or put things on my bucket list off until it’s really too late.

Shortlist:

  • Namibia
  • Start heading north on the continent of Africa
  • Start exploring Canada
  • Learn to drive manual transmission vehicles
  • Work on my French
  • Brazil
  • Zipline
  • Learn to snorkel
  • Malta
  • Ireland and Scotland – and tour castles!
  • See a New Orleans Saints game, with Drew Brees as QB, in the Superdome
​Midlist:

  • Continue going north in Africa and exploring Canada
  • Germany and France – WWII history (and more castles!)
  • Cuba
  • Norway
  • Croatia
  • Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos
  • Sleep in a castle!
  • India
  • Alaska
  • Learn to scuba dive
  • Morocco
  • Spain
​Longlist:

  • I will always travel to Africa, so keep going!
  • Live abroad
  • Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal
  • Bora Bora
  • Maldives
  • Madagascar
  • Go deep sea fishing
  • Silent retreat
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

What is on your travel list? What do you call your list? Do you assign time frames to the items on your list? Comment below to let me know, I would love to hear your ideas!

8 Things to Do When You Can’t Travel!

Wish you were traveling but stuck at home? Not all of us are able to make travel our full-time jobs. If you are like me, you’d always rather be traveling, but need to do the 9-to-5 gig to pay the bills. So what to do with the time between trips? Read on for some suggestions!

1. Why, plan your next trip, of course!
Wanderlusters always have a few trips in the hopper, am I right?? So, get to planning! Make a spreadsheet, go to the library for the latest travel guides, and get to the GlobalETA Library to start researching where to go next and what you can’t miss while there! For me, the planning of the trip is almost as fun as the trip itself. Almost.
​2. Record and/or organize the memories from your last trip!
Take a ton of photos on your trips? Well, there’s usually some organization that needs to happen when you return so you can find those photos and share them with others. So download those pics, rename them, put them in folders, share them on social media. Perhaps you scrapbook or blog, well, get to it! Write those stories and share those photos so that you can re-live those memories for years to come.
3. Make that money!
No matter how frugal of a traveler you are, it always takes a bit of money to take that next trip. So whether you have a regular gig like me, freelance, or temp it, get that money! Come up with creative and intentional ways to pay down the bills from that last trip and save up for the next. Have a garage sale, pick up an extra part-time job, or start to monetize your blog – the time goes a lot faster when you keep busy and are working toward a tangible goal.
​4. Explore your own backyard!
Most of us take for granted the amazing, often hidden, gems in our own hometowns. But what seems ordinary may be extraordinary upon further investigation! So get out there and try that new restaurant, take in a local game, take that day trip to the museum or historical site to which you’ve never been, or go on a hike in a local park or nature reserve. Take your camera and you will be amazed that you don’t need to go far to feel faraway.
5. Take a class!
Nowadays if you want to take classes, there are a ton of options and you don’t have to spend a lot to do so. Perhaps the local community college is offering a photography class or you find a great audiobook or online program to learn a new language. Local sporting goods stores, libraries, or non-profit orgs often offer classes for free or for a small membership fee. So don’t just watch the clock waiting for the time to pass, find something you can learn about that will make your future travels more fulfilling!
6. Get active!
Hand-in-hand with exploring the area in which you live or taking a class is getting active. Perhaps you already have a gym membership but if not, get outside and try something new like kayaking, yoga, or rock climbing. Granted, some of these things will cost money to get started but if you just want to dip your toes in, you can usually find affordable rental options instead of dropping a wad of cash on something new that you’re not even sure you will dig. This is especially fun with a friend, partner, or pet, so grab your bestie and jump in!
7. Watch travel shows or films!
Weather or funds not cooperating for you to go exploring? There are whole channels devoted to travel and exploration, so you can certainly distract yourself from not traveling or learn about a new place by watching a fun show or new documentary. From adventure tales, to endurance sports, to classic Richard Attenborough nature documentaries, there are innumerable ways to get your travel even if you are stuck at home. Check our our list for some rainy-day movie ideas.
​8. Read travel books and blogs!
I’m a librarian, so of course I am going to encourage you to read! But even when you can’t get to a new place yourself, a great travel book or blog can make you feel like you are there. Whether it’s a new bestseller, an old standby, an audiobook you listen to on the morning commute, or your favorite traveler sharing photos and tips, travel books and blogs can inspire and delight. Need some ideas? Talk to your local librarian and check out our travel book lists! We also have a massive list of the best travel blogs out there, so take a look!
​These are just a few ideas to pass the time when you are unable to travel and find yourself wanderlusting hard. What have I missed? What do you do between trips to make the time go faster? Give us your ideas in the comments below!

Quietude for the Literary Traveler at Gladstone’s Library

Travel is a busy affair. We rush to catch planes and trains. We march at a fast pace through a new city hoping to see as much as possible before our visit expires. We consume new experiences and food. Always with forward motion.

I had just spent two weeks doing just that. First Belfast, then Edinburgh, and then a hike along Hadrian’s Wall. Pressing on to London with the sightseeing, a Harry Potter geek-out and an East End walking tour. I’m not complaining, mind you. It was a great trip. But after all of that rushing around, I needed some down time. And I got just that at the Gladstone’s Library in Wales.

Gladstone and His Library
William Gladstone was a long time Member of Parliament and Prime Minister of the UK during the mid to late 1800’s. He had a vast and varied appetite for reading, accumulating over 32,000 books in his lifetime. He had a strong belief in the power of religion which shaped his participation in politics, his advocacy for emerging democracies and his support for human rights.

Gladstone’s library is the UK’s only Prime Ministerial library and one of the world’s few residential libraries that isn’t appended to a university. The library houses Gladstone’s collection along with 250,000 other printed works. They have a writers-in-residence program, conference facilities, host a book fair and offer regular multi-day courses on literary and language topics. The Victorian building houses the library collection in the the west wing and the east wing is home to 26 rooms which are available for accommodation.
Sleeping in the Library
I’m a book nerd, recovering bookseller and a literary tourist. So when I first heard about the library, I was beside myself. A residential library? Where do I sign up? The UK trip that I had been talking about doing for years suddenly got prioritized because now I could append my own library slumber party onto the itinerary.
My fellow residents were the bookish usual suspects whom you would expect to find at a residential library. A corporate group on retreat. A woman working on a project for her ministry. A volunteer cleric (and fellow Camino Pilgrim) who was providing religious and gardening services. And a professor from the University of Texas who had just finished up a seminal work on how zombies in our pop culture represent the collective trauma of a post 9-11 apocalypse. But, of course. ​
We were each there for our own reasons but we were bound together by the library. My own purpose at the library was to have no purpose other than to be at the library. After two weeks of running around the UK, I just wanted to sit still. And so I did. ​
Shhhhhh…
What astonished me about the library was its peaceful quietude. You expect libraries to be quiet places but this one offers absolute….total…silence.
While in the library, I would hear the occasional scrape of a chair, or the rustle of papers. But I could go for several hours and hear nothing but the rush of my own pulse.
That silence combined with the physical beauty of the library and the comforting presence of the books served to put me in a most tranquil state of mind. While in the library, I read the book “How to Be Bored” by Eva Hoffman. The author advocates for unplugged idleness, creative pursuits and contemplative concentration as means to stay balanced. She also espouses reading as a way to help the mind stretch and roam. The message of the book and the quietude of the library served as good reminders to me that we should all take moments to slow down and do a check-in with our interior state.  A temporary retreat from the hustle with time for contemplation will act as a restorative for the creative juices.
“Books are a delightful society. If you go into a room filled with books, even without taking them down from their shelves, they seem to speak to you, to welcome you.” – William Gladstone
I came away from the library reminded to slow down. I came away wanting to seek more comfort in the solitude of books. And now I’m determined to spend more time in libraries. ​

Have you been to Gladstone’s or another library that you loved? Where can you find peace, serenity, or inspiration while traveling? Please leave us comments or questions below!
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