We get a leap year every four years to bring our calendar in line with astronomical time. It’s an imperfect human tweak to help our stars align and it comes with all kinds of archaic traditions about what is and isn’t allowed on the extra day that comes with a leap year. Take or leave things like marriage proposals coming from women instead of from men (gasp!) or the superstition that if you’re born on February 29th you’re unlucky in love, it’s your call.
But drop that extra day in your travel schedule and interesting ideas start to appear. I always tack on a day or two at the front of a long-haul journey; it helps me get over the jet lag and allows, as a more metaphysical friend of mine described the process, my soul to catch up with my body. 24–48 hours is enough to take the edge off the hours in air world, but it doesn’t really feel like an “extra” day because for me, it’s time spent in recovery. A truly extra day in my travels, one where I don’t have anywhere I have to be, where I don’t need to sleep off the coach seat and find coffee… I like thinking about how I’d spend that day, given the choice, and where I’d spend it, of course. What if I had the chance to go back and drop another day in my adventures? Where would that be? Well…
1. Stone Town, Zanzibar
When I’m lucky, I find myself in places that feel like they were my home once in a dream, a past life, in a book about me that’s not been written yet. On the streets of Stone Town, I was repeatedly greeted like a cousin who came back from far away, or like someone familiar and friendly to everyone. To be in a place so very far away from my home in Seattle and feel so very like I belonged, who wouldn’t want another day of that? Plus, all that grilled seafood at the night market: so tasty.
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina
I had a mere 24-hour stopover in this great South American city. It’s not fair to complain, I was on my way to an epic adventure — nine days in Antarctica. And while I got to have a spectacular meal at a well-known Armenian restaurant, and partake of that city’s excellent ice cream, I saw… not much, really: a few streets out the window of a taxi, and then, the domestic airport. That’s not nearly enough Buenos Aires.
3. Hong Kong
Another stopover, another missed opportunity. My flight from Bangkok was delayed and ate into any time I’d have had to race into to town and get a look at this (I’ve heard) magnificent, maddening crossroads on the edge of the South China Sea. The shopping; the food; the noise and crowds and mess. Or so I’m told, I didn’t get to see it.
4. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA
I loved every minute of the just-about 24 hours I spent here, I loved getting up a daybreak in hopes of seeing the sun rise (it was overcast) and I loved watching the sky inscribed with rainbows during the nothing-short-of inspirational sunset. But another day would have allowed me to venture beyond the rim, to spend a day hiking away from the places where short-term visitors congregate, and to give all that glorious space of red rock and sky time to settle into my skin in a quieter, more lasting way.
5. Venice, Italy
An Italian friend and I visited Venice for eight hours on the first day of Carnival. It was magical, to say the least. The city was transforming before our very eyes into a costume ball, the plazas filling with gents and ladies in period attire, painted masks, and velvet and beads. We stopped for coffee in a tiny place that was, serendipitously, filled with gondoliers; it must have been their local. But our train left late in the afternoon, and I did not see the stone piazzas under twinkling lights and stars. My time in Venice was perfect, I regret nothing of even this short visit, but oh, to wake up here and look out the window on the canals, I would so love to know what that feels like.
One more day. Just. One. More. Day.
G Adventures runs a number of departures encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.