One part of the mad dash that makes up any period before a long trip or permanent move involves trying to see as many friends as possible before the departure. It is not like I think I will never see them again, but with all the chaos that is happening in the world, and the general unpredictability of life, it is nice to solidify the bonds of friendship. I’m not saying that the next time they see me it will be via YouTube video, me on my knees in an orange jumpsuit with a menacing man all in black behind me. Nor am I implying that a family member or friend may receive one of my severed fingers by post with a ransom demand. I am definitely not saying that I will fall head over heels in love with some beautiful man in one of the countries I will be visiting and decide to get married and live out my life there. And I am not saying that any of my friends will get hit by a subway car or taken to prison or decide for the success of their sobriety to move to the remotest desert. I am just saying that while we have today, we should tell each other how important we are to each other, and that we love each other, and the road of life has been made nicer for walking it together.
I leave in 2 days, yikes.
And whenever I am about to leave on a long trip, I go over lists of things not to forget to do and double and triple check them. And I still end up forgetting something. But hey, such is life. I go when I go and if I have forgotten something important to do at home, c’est la vie. It will probably involve unplugging electronics or throwing out food likely to spoil or something like that. And it always seems that in the last days leading up to a big trip, there is a sudden surge in the amount of client work that has to be done immediately, some mini crisis or other that just can’t wait. Anyway, today I will try to test pack and see what I can fit into one carry on. The challenge here is that I will be crossing a somewhat wide range of climates over the next 3-5 months, and I need to be able to deal with the cold and the hot, the rainy and the dry. Should I bring something nice to wear out on occasion, or just stick to the very casual? Bulky sweater and jacket for my time in Japan and South Korea, even though the rest of the trip will be Southern Hemisphere and therefore late Spring and Summer? And speaking of summer, do I bring a swimsuit? What about workout clothes? Some of these things I should probably just buy locally and donate them somewhere when I leave. In the past, on long trips I brought just enough to have a week’s worth of clothes, knowing I would do laundry on a regular schedule. It is nice not to have too much stuff to lug around with you. And outside of the packing there are the vaccines and visas, tickets and transport, etc etc.
I leave for Columbia in two days. Tick tock.
Way back in 2006, I began this blog. The purpose at the time was to provide an easy way for friends and family to keep up with my whereabouts and experiences, as I was just about to embark on (what would turn out to be) a 2.5 year travel adventure spanning 4 continents. And since moving to New York 5 years ago, I have continued (though at times infrequently) to keep up the blog, writing about all manner of item in addition to travel. That said, I think everyone would agree that the most interesting writing and insights come while on the road. And I have not exactly been stagnant on the travel front, even while being most definitely rooted in New York and a return to professional (read: paid) life and work. In the past 5 years, I have travelled to Puerto Rico, Spain, France, Germany, England, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Morocco, Switzerland, Canada and several destinations inside the contiguous United States. I have on several occasions been absent more than a month, but have not come close to repeating the sheer scope of my earlier trip, and had no plans to do so until recently.
But then last February, thanks to a friend, I came across an opportunity for a round-the-world airfare that was a staggeringly good deal. I decided that even though this was not in my plans, letting a chance like this pass by would be stupid, so I took it. In case you have never heard of them, RTW fares are something that all the major flight groups offer (you can find their planning websites here, here, and here), and they allow you to get a pretty good deal on these special trips, with certain rules and restrictions. Basically, you have to go (more or less) in one direction around the globe; You have one year to complete all flights; You can usually change times and dates of any particular flight for free but not the routing.
So, coming up on October 1st, I am heading out. In order, I will pass through Columbia, Venezuela, The US (Los Angeles), Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, South Africa, and Brazil before returning to New York. The planning and timing is still a bit in the air (pun intended), but I will take between 3 and 5 months to make the entire trip. Since I am not independently wealthy, I will continue to work while on this trip. One of the great advantages in what I do is that I only need my laptop and a good internet connection to get my work done. I will of course be on a reduced schedule, but I will probably still end up working about half the time I normally would. In some places (Australia), I will try to rent an apartment and stay for a few weeks, in others (South Korea) I will pass through, do a bit of tourism, and continue on my way. And in the few places I already know from previous travels (India, Brazil, Los Angeles), I will mainly visit with old friends and (probably) not see much that is new.
I don’t feel especially prepared for my trip, there is tons of planning to do and I have very little idea where I will go yet in each place. I pulled this start date out of thin air back in February, and it seemed so very far in the future at that time, I thought I would have plenty of time to have it all figured out by now. But then, the road has a way of pointing me in the direction of things I should see and do, and because it is all new there is really no “wrong” way to learn and explore. Still, if any of you have any specific experience in the places I am going, by all means send me your tips!