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Bottled water, et al.

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

Tourists in foreign countries invariably start comparing their own country to the place they are visiting. What is better, what is worse, what do you really miss from home, etc? When I was in Amsterdam, a girl in my hostel loudly complained about the different electrical sockets in Europe. “Why can’t everyone just use the same kind.” Understandable, I’ve often wondered the same. But presumably, she would want everyone to use her type of plug, not the other way around. So the question then becomes, when does comparing things turn from observation to criticism? I think it’s probably human nature to compare new things to old ones, but when those comparisons stop you from enjoying and experiencing the new ones, then you need to take some time to refocus and look at things a new way. [read on]

About me

Monday, November 28th, 2005

Well, as you’ve probably guessed by the title, I’m off on a Round-the World (RTW)adventure. After 6 years of looking around and only seeing beige cubes, I decided I needed a change. Whereas most people would maybe just change jobs, I’ve decided to leave the country and travel, something I’ve been thinking of doing for years, seriously for about two, and have been sort of planning for the entire year of 2005.

I’m a 29, soon to be 30 year old, American girl who grew up in Chicago. I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life, except for college, which was spent at the University of Illinois Urbana-Cornfield. I also spent a semester in Vienna, Austria my junior year. I have always regretted not going a whole year. I don’t remember much about Vienna, except heurigen, chocolate croissants and my friend Liga. Almost every weekend we traveled somewhere else, and when I was actually in Vienna during the week, I was either drinking, or hungover in class. I really should go back there and refresh my memory a bit.

After college, I worked a few odd jobs and found myself working in the health insurance business, both for private and government work. Suddenly, I had been working in insurance for over 6 years, no idea how that happened, and made the decision to get out and basically start over. So, after thinking about this trip for about two years, I finally made the decision to go, and just booked my ticket one day in September. That way, I couldn’t wimp out and change my mind.

At first I really wanted to be gone for my 30th birthday, December 11th, but after some discussions with my family and other plans within the trip itself, I decided to stay for Christmas. That being said, I’m leaving Dec. 26th. I bought a one-way ticket to Sydney, and have another flight out of Oz to Singapore on May 13th. I am also going to NZ in there somewhere, but otherwise, nothing else is planned. I’ve decided to buy my tickets as I go, because I will probably be gone for longer than a year, and I also wanted the flexibility. My bank account may not agree with this decision, however, seeing as my flight to Oz was WAY more than I expected. But that’s okay, it’s bought and paid for, and I’m arriving on the 28th. Dec. 27th? Doesn’t exist for me.

Here are a few questions I’ve been asked repeatedly, so I thought it might be easier to just answer them here.

How long and where are you going?
I’ll be gone at least year, and maybe more depending on how fast my money goes. My “plan” is Oz/NZ, SEA (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos Cambodia loop) Myanmar maybe. Then over to Tibet,Nepal, India, maybe Sri Lanka. Hopefully then over to South Africa and work my way up the East Coast towards Ethiopia.

How much is this costing?
Well, I’m budgeting $30/day, more for OZ/NZ and less for India/SEA, so it should even out. I’m hoping to keep my flights to $5000 and pre-trip spending including vaccines, clothes, pack, etc, will be about $1500.

What do your parents think?
Well, they’re parents. They are worried that I’m a solo female off alone in the big bad world, but they have only themselves to blame. My parents are big travelers. Iin the 60’s, they took a hippie bus, even though they weren’t hippies, from Germany to New Delhi. My mom, a German citizen at the time, emigrated in Hawaii. They’ve been in countries that people rarely go through now, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. After that, they moved to Chicago and started a family. But we were always traveling, I went to Europe before I went to Disneyland, and they’ve continued to go on big trips, most recently to China, Vietnam and Cambodia. They also just spent the last year cruising around Europe in their retirement. Needless to say, traveling has always been a part of my family, so they can’t be too shocked.

Why are you doing this?
Because I love to travel, and I want to go to places while I’m young, not when I’m retired and imprisoned on a tour bus. Plus, I have none of the normal attachments right now keeping me home. It’s the perfect time to go. So I’m going.

How do you pack for a year of travel?
From everything I’ve read, lightly. Packing list will follow once it is final. But it’s going to have to fit in a 60 liter backpack. For you Americans, that is about 3600 cubic inches. I “backpacked” my way around Europe for about 6 weeks a few years back, and I had a 110 liter backpack. No, that’s not a typo. I was one of those maroons who dragged around 4 pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans, and numerous other clothes and items around that I never wore or used, struggling every step of the way. I don’t know how I managed, but I’m sure a few people got knocked over on a bus somewhere. I can’t even fathom a guess as to how much that pack weighed. This time, I’m going to try and keep it to 20 pounds, including the 5 pound pack. That being said, anyone in the market for a really nice 110 liter backpack?

What are you going to do when you get home?
I have no idea. Don’t want to even think about it, because it scares the bejeezus out of me. Stop asking me.