Upon graduation in December of 2011, myself and I will be taking a trip. The tentative plan is as follows:
– ~6 weeks in Kenya/Tanzania, with Mt. Kilimanjaro somewhere in the middle
– ~3.5 months in South America
– ~2.5 months in Europe
– ~6 weeks in Israel
– ~6 weeks in India
– ~3 weeks in Nepal
– ~3.5 months in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong
I aim to cover ground in 4 continents, over a ~12 month period. The only thing certain about the above is nothing. It will all change as I go, in one way or another.
From now until trip-time, this blog will serve as much a personal memoir as it will a public offering of journalism: down the road, I’d like to vividly relive my days of excitedly preparing for the road itself. This is the first of these memoir-like posts, so allow me to list some firsts.
1. The first time I met a solo backpacker was in a coffee shop in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, in the summer of 2008, amid Scott, Bryan and I’s 4-week sojourn through Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, and The Netherlands. I was surprised, confused, and could not think of one solitary reason why anyone would travel alone. It sounded miserable.
2. The first time I met someone who had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro was in Melbourne in the spring of 2010. Her name was Ayesha Khara, she was 18 years old, and she did not exactly look like a mountaineer. After discussing the climb, I immediately decided that I’d need to do it myself.
3. The first time I resolved to purchase an SLR was in Kaikoura, New Zealand, in the summer of 2010. I was wandering around with my buddy, Jeff Calvert, and mentioned that while I wanted this SLR, I felt that I should wait until I was “really into photography.” Jeff quickly replied: “Dude, you are into photography. Just buy one.”
4. The first time I left North America was in the summer of 2005. I was 15, and my wonderful mother AND father sent me on a two-week-long language exchange program in the south of France. I absolutely LOVED it.
5. The first time I met people who had backpacked Southeast Asia was during my travels up East Coast Australia in the summer of 2010. Many other backpackers were European, many were on their gap year, and almost all had just come from Southeast Asia. They would not shut the f*ck up about how amazing it was. I swiftly decided I’d need to see for myself.
6. The first time I realized it was all possible was on a boat in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand, in the summer of 2010. I met this kid, Tuan Truong, who was originally from North Carolina. After graduating college, Tuan moved to Australia, worked on a cruise ship in the Sydney Harbor, and saved up enough money to fly to New Zealand and buy a car. From there, the kid was living out of this car, cooking meals on a small gas stove, and doing incredible things each and every day. He did not need another person pushing him forward (and likely holding him back), and did not even need a bed to sleep in every night. All he needed was some optimism, and a bit of problem solving. This kid’s story has stuck with me. He is currently in Norway, leading kayak trips down Class 5 rapids. Doing what he loves, and doing it because he can. I write about my initial meeting with Tuan here.
7. The first move I made towards realizing this trip was on July 20th, 2011, at approximately 3:30pm. I was sitting at my desk, bored out of mind, and moved that first chunk of money into my checking account to buy those first flights.
8. The first purchase I made was on July 22nd, 2011. The STA Travel office in Arizona opened at 3:00pm EST, and I called at 3:00pm EST. I was sitting on one of those short, decorative staircases along the Manyunk Tow Path, and had just ridden 15 miles on my mother’s bike. I was sweaty. I booked flights from Philadelphia, PA to Nairobi, Kenya; Nairobi, Kenya to Dubai, UAE; Dubai, UAE to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and New York, New York to Reykjavik, Iceland.
9. The first person I told about my trip was myself. I knew what I wanted to do, believed I could do it, and decided that I wouldn’t let much of anything stop me. This point is meant to be simple and pure–not cocky.
10. The first flight I will take is on January 3rd, 2012, to Nairobi, Kenya. That flight is in exactly 100 days. #rtwsoon (round-the-world soon).
From now until then, I will be preparing. I have some stuff to buy, some Swahili to learn, and some boring insurance/medical things to take care of. I aim to update this blog slightly more frequently, and perhaps, make the posts slightly shorter. Again, I’d like to give this thing a much more secretarial, memoir-like direction for the next few months, so I can look back on the concrete details of my excitement and preparation. I will discuss some more pre-trip thoughts, goals, and aspirations in the near future. I’ll post a detailed picture of my gear as well.
Counting the days,