Here are some thoughts inspired by LN part 2.
I'm done with series of short trips
When I stay somewhere for a long time, like Panama for two months, I adapt to life there, create a routine, and get stuff done. When I skip from city to city every few days, I get much less done. I've become good at working in any situation, but when I have only three days to explore Fez, you can bet that none of those days are going to be spent indoors behind a computer screen.
On the other hand, with two weeks in Panama I can spend plenty of time working and still have the odd day here and there to explore.
Long trips on cruise ships are a great compromise. They give you a nice stable place to work from as well as many hours where you're at sea and can't be out exploring. I'll be actively looking for more cruises in the future.
I had a great time doing short stints, but it isn't a sustainable mix of productivity and adventure.
Traveling alone is fun
I had never traveled alone before, and had no idea what to expect. Would I get bored? Lonely? Homesick?
As it turned out, traveling alone is a lot of fun. It makes it a bit easier to make friends and a lot easier to schedule things.
On the other hand, it's definitely more expensive (mostly because of renting hotels and apartments). It's also a lot more work having to do all of the planning and negotiations by yourself.
After Todd left I ended up traveling solo for half the time and meeting friends along the way for some segments of the trip. This was an excellent compromise between the two extremes.
I really need to stick to my plan of 3 month long trips
After traveling for too long, especially in short stints, my appreciation for things declined. Amazing experiences like sitting at a hundred year old cafe on the edge of the Strait of Gibraltar start losing their significance.
I have a lot of great friends and family, and not seeing them for 6+ months is a bit much as well.
I meant to do three month trips this year, but I'm particularly susceptible to the impulse of extending the trip because I'm already so close to some new amazing place. "I'm in DR, I may as well visit Haiti, too". That may be true, of course, but it makes it hard to allocate my time properly.
French isn't as useless as I thought
I made fun of Todd last year because he learned French in school, which I viewed as a waste of time. Then this year I found myself in Haiti, Morocco, and Montreal, all places where my pitiful French was sorely lacking. I have renewed interest in getting better at French.
Train and boat travel are way better than air travel
As TSA agents get more and more invasive and annoying, train and ship travel become even more appealing. I used to absolutely love air travel, but the security experience is so condescending and inconsistent that I find myself annoyed every time I deal with it.
Traveling by ship, which really makes the journey a delight, is my absolute favorite method. Train is a very close second. Sure, it's slower than flying, but you get some (or all) of that time back once you consider that you usually travel from city center to city center, instead of outskirts to outskirts, and that you can arrive at a train station five minutes before the train leaves.
I'm thinking about doing an around the world trip without planes.
That's about it...
I have a few ideas for what I'll be doing next, but I haven't made any final decisions yet. More on this coming soon...
I recently read a great book about traveling around the world without planes: Back in 6 Years by Tony Robinson-Smith (yeah, the title's not so great -- but don't be fooled, he's a talented writer) See link below
My own favorite way of traveling is definitely motorcycle. My girl and I are doing another motorbike trip round Asia next year starting December 1st from Saigon. Look us up if you're over that way. Bikes are cheap and plentiful :)
I travelled solo for a month in China - this got very boring and lonely at times, especially as I don't speak Mandarin. Though it taught me to appreciate the ease of communication I have in UK.
My friend did a journey by train from Glasgow (Scotland) all the way to Beijing by train. Getting visas is a pain in the neck as you have to be "invited" to Russia (you pay someone a small amount to do that) but it sounded worth it! Maybe an idea for you?
The trip looked like this:
Glasgow - London (sleeper)
London to Brussels (Eurostar)
Brussels - Belarus
Belarus - Moscow
Moscow - China (trans-siberian express)
Life Nomadic is far from over, but today I'm in the US, back in Austin. We've been away from Austin for seven months and have circled the globe entirely. We're already planning more trips, but armed with experience, we don't plan on being on the road for such long stretches in the future.
For me the trip was an epic journey, one that I will remember in great detail for the rest of my life. We could have very easily stayed in Austin and had very little change in my life, but we didn't.
Instead we walked on the canal in Panama. We sat with friends under the cherry blossom trees in Tokyo. We looked out from the tallest building in the world in Taipei. We drove ATVs through the dunes of Qatar. In France we walked through rooms of bones in an unauthorized jaunt through the Paris Catacombs. We ran with the bulls in Spain and lived to tell the story.
Three days–that’s all I had during my first trip to Asia.
I was set to take off just a few days after spending 3 weeks traveling to Sri Lanka, the States and the Bahamas and I was dead broke. A few months earlier, I found out that I had won a free flight to Bangkok from my bank here in the United Arab Emirates and was determined to make the trip happen–even if it meant traveling to Asia with only $300 to my name. This trip would also be my first experience Couchsurfing AND on the Asian continent, so I was excited and nervous all at the same time.
One of the first things that I always do when I travel alone is purchase a sim card so that I can stay connected with family & friends. I arrived to Bangkok, bought my sim, added some minutes & a data plan and headed to the house where I was going to be staying for the next few days. Bangkok was everything that I thought a stereotypical big Southeast Asian city would be–sprawling with skyscrapers, intricate metro rail lines, crowded, dirty and lively with millions of things happening all around me at the same time. It was a complete sensory overload but I must admit–I loved the energy.
Couchsurfing is a popular way to travel. You stay in the homes of locals or expats in cities around the world–for free. I met my host Amy through a friend of a friend who had Couchsurfed in Bangkok a year earlier. Before my trip, I had Skyped with Amy and her roommates to get things situated for my stay at their house. On the first night, I made it to Amy’s house and enjoyed some welcome drinks and conversation with her roommates about Bangkok, living abroad and traveling. Each of them had come from various parts of the world (Europe, Australia and the US) to intern in Bangkok for different businesses and NGO’s and they were renting a 3-bedroom apartment in the Sukhumvit area. That night, as I lay down to sleep on the couch, I remember thinking about how crazy it was to be in a complete stranger’s house in a foreign country. One of the things that always blows me away about most travelers and expats that I meet abroad is how amazingly open and welcoming they are to meeting new people.
Early in the morning on my first full day, I borrowed a map and an old Lonely Planet guide from one of Amy’s roommates and hit the city. For a girl with less than $300 in her pocket, I couldn’t believe how much I was able to do and see. I spent the next three days traveling around in tuk-tuks exploring temples, hoping on and off of the Bangkok Transit System (BTS), visiting wats, shopping, meeting up with more friends of friends, gorging on street food and partying with fellow travelers on the infamous Khaosan Road. By the end of the trip, I was exhausted. I enjoyed every minute of it and even boasted mosquito bites as battle wounds.