No, I've not been lucky enough to be gifted that wonderful amount of money - not yet, at least :) You know me, I'll 'never-say-never' for stranger things have truly happened in life. I have, however, just had a customer in who has been lucky enough to receive such a gift from a family member (a living family member, it's not an inheritance so nobody has had to die for her to receive it). She was telling me how she's not got a clue how to spend it.
After she'd gone I made myself a coffee and thought about how I would spend it :) I could pay off my debts (although they weren't really mine to begin with - they were thanks to the ex who stitched me up) but I figured I'm set to pay them for life anyway, so I'd just as well keep them. I could put it in a savings account because once my Mum passes away (unless I meet a rich man, or one with a home I could move into) I will be homeless. Even that wouldn't sway me. After sitting there thinking about it (for all of 5 minutes) I realised I would use it for holidays (after giving my Mum 10% of whatever I was given - just because we only get one Mum and mine has had to struggle almost as much as I have).
I then sat and thought about whether I would do several shorter trips over the course of a few years, of if I'd want to rent a Winnebago and do a whole year in one go, fitting in as much as I could. £100 per day for food, fuel and sightseeing would be £36500 for a year. Of course there would be flights and other bits on top but I reckon for £40000 I could easily do a years travelling in one go. I'd never do it that way because I A) have the shop, B) couldn't leave my Mum that long (she misses me when I do a long weekend) and C) I have my dog, so in the end I worked out I would do 5 road trips over 3 years, each consisting of 3/4 weeks at a time. I would forego a day or two's food (buying some bread, butter, ham and cheese to live on) so that I could upgrade the flights to Premium Economy (the extra leg room on a 10 hour flight would be greatly appreciated). It would mean sharing a room with whoever ends up being crazy enough to travel with me, but I'm sure we could get over it easy enough.
Obviously, my first trip would be the one I started all this social media stuff for in the first place. The one I have been busting my balls (not that I have any, but the saying doesn't really work any other way) for over the past 11 months - yes, it really has been nearly a year since I started all this. At the rate it's taking me to get the funds up together, I might just about be able to get out there in 2040, unless of course some kind benefactor heads on over to one of the 2 fundraising sites I have set up; this one, or this one :) If anyone reading this knows of someone, feel free to pass the details along :) They can also donate directly to me, via my paypal account if they want to cut out the middle man. I am fully aware what I have just done is a shameless plug; you need to be aware I gave up feeling any semblance of shame when I set the fundraising pages up. Life is too short and if I can't afford it myself, then maybe someone out there with some funds to spare will help make the dream a reality. If I don't at least ask, then I will never get. I don't want to sit on my cloud when my mortal time on this planet ends and say to myself "I should have just gone for it". I'm here, now, going for it. I have nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain.
Anyway, let's get back to what I would do if I was to receive such a windfall. My mid-west trip (that is already planned - see above :)) would come first, without a shadow of doubt. Next though, I'd go North East. My grandfather was born in Salem, MA so I'd love to go there, pay my respects at his grave. Sadly, I never got to meet him; we don't even believe he knew I existed (that's a story for another day). I have a cousin in Boston so I'd start there, spend a few days with him, taken in a Red Sox game (that is definitely high on my bucket list). It's weird because I always liked the Red Sox long before I knew I had family from the area. I'd take a quick trip down to Providence, RI (so I could mark another state from the list). From there I'd head back up north, to Salem, then follow the coast up into New Hampshire (stopping off to meet other relations in MA on the way). I have 2 cousins in NH so would hook up with them, as well as visiting one of the towns named after my own local city over here. From there it would be sinful to be so close to Maine and not visit, where I would have to take in the Stephen King tour. I'd then head off through Vermont en route to New York (state) and a visit to Niagara Falls. Heck, things are going so well for me in my life right now, I may even work out a route/plan for this trip, so I'm prepared when the time is right :) It stands to reason I would need to travel in the fall; I've seen photo's of the amazing colours, so to witness them first hand would be phenomenal.
I would use £650 of the money to purchase the camera lens I would dearly love - it would make my photo's a lot better than they are :)
3 of 5 would take me down the bottom to Florida. I have a cousin there, also. It's meant to be every kids dream to visit Disney; not this kid, but if I was down that way I'd visit - I might wait until 2020 when they have their proper Star Wars section ready. My brother went a few years ago and enjoyed, it so if he liked it, I should do. I'd want to ride on a swamp boat for sure :) I'd hop on over to the Kennedy Space Centre too ( my brother was lucky enough to see a rocket launch) and do all the tourist bits. I also have a friend from school in FL so would hook up with him at some point. From there I'd head up the East Coast, taking in Savannah, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, being sure to travel a little further to cross the state line into North Carolina (it's another state to mark off the list). Places I've heard of, that I know take their place in American History (whether that be "good-or-bad" is a matter of opinion). I'd take a jaunt through Chattanooga (just because it's so well known) before arriving in Nashville, TN. The final leg would take us up to Memphis (and a visit to Graceland) before heading back down south where we'd depart from Atlanta, GA. I could get 7 states out of that trip, and with the Arkansas state line being so close to Memphis, I could potentially notch it up to 8 :)
4th - although I'd like to do it 3rd - would start in Washington. I'd do all that needs to be done, before heading to Gettysburg, via Wilmington, DE - there's nothing I particularly want to see in Delaware but for the sake of a 100 mile detour, it gives me another state to knock off the list. We could actually make a day trip of it. I'll be honest; I'm not entirely sure where I would go from there. I'd have to see what the person I was travelling with would want to do. We could go North to Chicago, or West to Oklahoma. The possibilities are endless and would need a bit of researching to find out where would suit us best :)
Last, but not really, as there would still be states needing to be visited, would be South to Middle. I'd start in Phoenix and head on down to Tombstone (via the Gila River Reservation, to visit a friend). I'd love to travel East from there but it would mean long driving days, so instead I'd head in a Northerly direction, revisiting some places I've been before (the pre-photography days). That would mean I could find time to hike through Bryce Canyon (quite possibly the most stunning place on the planet - in my humble opinion). To be able to visit there with the photography knowledge I now have would be just perfect. I'd even be kind and stop off at the Grand Canyon if the person I was travelling with wanted to; it's not somewhere I am keen to revisit but it's not all about me (oh wait, yes it is, it's all about me :) ) We'd then be left with 3 options; a long drive to Denver to fly home, a short one to either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, to fly home from. Depending on how long the bits we want to do take, we could possibly fit in Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley (I did love Furnace Creek - the 10 hours I got to spend there) ending in San Francisco (where I have a cousin) and flying home from there. It's another one I can sit and work out on a wet, windy, autumnal evening, as I have nothing better to be doing :) Aside from one day we'd be looking at 200 miles each day roughly, if I was to do that route, which in American terms is not a lot at all; in UK terms, that's practically a whole day's driving :)
So there you have it; what I would do if someone was to gift me £50000. :) £100000 would see me flying first class on a few routes :) :)