A Pilgrimage to the Brooklyn Bridge

Summer 2013 is in full swing and, without a doubt, many solo travelers and families will enjoy the fruits of their labor – banked vacation and/or personal days – and take a much-deserved vacation. For many, vacation enjoyment lies more in the planning than the actual vacation itself; everything from researching accommodations to securing a coveted attraction ticket. Others, however, are inspired by a simple (and persistent) desire.

I’m one of the latter group of people. My recent trip to New York City was motivated by one attraction only: the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’ve been traveling to NYC for as long as I can remember; having family who live out there makes it a fairly easy (and affordable) trip for me when my schedule allows. But recently, more time has gone in-between visits than I enjoy. I decided that this trip was going to be a different one for me. I had one pilgrimage to make – I was going to walk (or run) across the Brooklyn Bridge. That was the sole objective for of extended weekend getaway. (Yes, really.)

I realize that to many people, booking travel plans (and spending money) for one particular experience may be a little ridiculous, especially in a city like NYC where there’s so much to do. But I’ve been there before and have checked most items off of my bucket list – except for the The Bridge.

The pilgrimage to my happy place was set, and the only plans I needed to make were what time my flight was going to leave and where I was going to stay. I didn’t need research for this though; I already knew which airline I was going to take (I’m a brand loyalist) and which hotel my reservations would be at (a recommendation from a colleague). The hardest part of my trip was determining what would be packed in my suitcase.

As soon as my flight landed and I dropped off my luggage, I made my way to the Lower East Side of Manhattan with nothing more than my smart phone and the excitement swelling inside of me. Before I knew it, I was standing at the end of Centre Street ready to check off the only item on my to-do list. Brooklyn Bridge, here I come.

Logging just over 1.1 miles each way, I blissfully made my way to Brooklyn and back. While the weather was quite temperamental that day (many thanks, Tropical Storm Andrea), it didn’t deter my sheer happiness to be surrounded by the flurry of cars, bikers and other walkers who use this suspension bridge daily as a commuting thoroughfare.

There was a certain sense of peace I embraced standing at the base of the first arch. At that particular moment, I was amid a well-choreographed extravaganza of audio, visual and sensory overload. I was in love and knew that my decision to make a trip solely to walk across one of the most iconic landmarks in the world was worth it.

The moral of the story is…making travel choices can be very confusing and stressful, especially given the plethora of options, budgets and hectic schedules. Why not help travelers decide by clarifying your destination’s appeal? As destination marketers, ask yourself these questions: what is my Brooklyn Bridge? What will inspire a traveler to travel to my destination for a sole purpose or experience?  Those answers will drive your brand and, ultimately, your success.