When I was 10 years old, my grandmother gave me a book filled with the mysteries of every single country in the world. This book described details such as each country’s currency, national language, and most outstanding sights. Back then I vowed to learn every country with its capital and to know it by heart by the time I hit puberty. Then, when I was in my beginning 20ies, I bought myself a world traveler’s map showing the entire extent of Earth with every continent and land on it. One day, I told myself, one day I’d see every single continent and I’d been to most of those countries on the map.
For those of you who know me, this post does not come out of the blue. I’ve been having this dream for a long time and ever since I came to New York it has manifested itself in many forms.
It’s a dream inspired and nourished by many fellow travelers. Starting with the Swiss guy I met 2 1/2 years ago in the Meatpacking District. He was on his second world travel and had decided to pack his bags for 6 months to see Australia, Hawaii, and the USA (Hey, that’s 2 and 1/2 continents, not bad, eh?). Then the two Dutch girls who finished up their studies in their mid-20ies and forgot about their normal life back home for 18 full months. Yes, 1 1/2 years! They literally traveled the entire world, took with every single continent and stayed in Spain for four additional months.
Meeting and hearing about these people and their fates has nourished, even fattened a dream of my own. Thanks to the Swiss guy, I have overcome my disgust of hostels and seen it as a new means to explore more of North America when you are on a tight budget (see my DC and Montreal posts on this). It has also forced me to open up to complete strangers and get to know their life stories from an angle you are not likely to see anywhere else (so different than from the work place).
I have since then drawn several assumptions: First, traveling the world is not undoable, as many fearful people might want to make us believe. Second, it might very well be cheaper than I thought it would have. Third, it is not as unusual as initially assumed, especially among my generation and with the means we have to advance globally in today’s (Western) society.
Over the course of the past few months I have run across a number of blogs from people who have done it: They have seen the entire world in a year. Sometimes they’ve seen it even longer than that, but sometimes also less.
By now I’ve already formed an idea of what areas I want to visit and what I’d rather reserve for another time. Europe, for example, is not really what I am aiming towards. Since I grew up there, I’ve already accomplished an extensive amount of traveling. Perhaps the most important reason is also that it’s not necessarily the cheapest option. Which is why I am saving this small speck on Earth for another time. The same goes for Africa. I feel this is a lone continent that will take a travel of its own to explore culture, people, and all the amenities. One day, yes, one day I want to see the burnt soil of the deserts, I want to go on a safari, and I want to eat home-made couscous . But not this time. Another.
I therefore drew the conclusion that the most plausible way to go is flying to the remaining continents: South America, New Zealand, Australia, and Asia. In that order. Since it will be summer during our winter, I believe starting at the end of a year might be a good idea. I plan on devoting three months on each continent and reserving the remaining three months for a country I liked the most. I wouldn’t mind staying in Thailand or Indonesia for an entire month, to be honest. Some place that won’t bankrupt my cash account and still offer a great time on the beach, in nature, and for photography. Working and traveling in Australia and New Zealand is another idea that has come to mind after speaking to my German friend who has done it after college. Costs for visas and accommodations will determine where exactly I will go. I just know that a “working holiday” in Downunder will only cost me a bit more than $100 for a visa, so that sounds like a great compromise in terms of earning money and traveling the country all at the same time.
So why do I do it? I feel that I have to. That if I do not do this once-
twice- thrice- in-a-lifetime travel, I will never feel fulfilled. I will never learn what the world has to offer me. Or be able to take with every single thing I can from this travel. In preparation, I am already improving my Portuguese, in case I ever make it to Brazil. And after this, I certainly want to brush up on my Spanish, as I’d feel a bit more comfortable speaking the actual mother tongue of South American countries. Hiking the Inca trail in Peru, trying out good wine in Argentina, and experiencing Carnival in Brazil – all of this sounds like good deal of fun to me. Exploring Asia, discovering hidden gems, eating a real Pad Thai – why not? Walking along the Chinese Wall, getting lost in the masses of Peking…. In the end, I do not expect much from the countries I plan to visit. This hopeless inexpectation might leave room for not being disappointed but rather awed by cultural differences and landscapes.
So how will I do it? Where will I stay? Recently, a friend of mine pointed me towards couchsurfing once again. But after reading Sherbet and Sparkles’ post on Making Friends Abroad, I might find Charlotte’s solution better. Then of course hostels and private rooms, depending on how cheap the accommodation is in each country. As for the most part, I will be traveling alone. It’s an extension of the continuous string of travels I am pretty much doing by myself already. I will certainly point my friends’ vacations towards different countries to join me for a week or two (or however long they want to spare). In the end, perhaps I won’t be alone for so long if I get enough of my friends to join me throughout this entire year (52 weeks can go by so fast).
So there it is, the rough draft of a dream in the making for a good 2 and a half years already. Perhaps it will take the same amount of time to accumulate funds, perhaps it won’t be so long. All I know is that I will hold on to this dream until it’s possible to pack my bags and say “Adieu” to whatever city I will then be living in.
If you are interested in pursuing the same, join me while I read through some helpful and cool blogs I’ve found on this topic. I will be posting interviews, backgrounds, and more helpful web sites on a page I will create on this site as time goes by.
Blogs I already recommend:
* Traveling 9 to 5
It all started when I looked up RTW ticket and stumbled across this couple’s blog. They’ve traveled the world in one year on less than $300 for a ticket per person! Yes! Admirable!
* Arty Dubs
Quite the opposite is this blog in which a couple packs their belongings rather spontaneously and decides to travel the world by buying each ticket as they go. See their list of costs and more details to get an idea of pros and cons of each country.
* the Global Trip
describes Eric’s 16-month-long journey throughout the world. Or as he rightfully states: Until money runs out!
* Let’s Go
is a site on how to travel cheaply. It has links to blogs who have done it and it offers many insights into topics you might not think of at first.
can be very helpful when it comes to deciding whether you should choose an RTW ticket or jump into the adventure head first.
* Active Planet Travels
is a blog of a guy who travels the world continuously and has many tips to offer. He opened up his own business (travel) and is now on a quest to see at least six of the seven continents out there. Good luck, Ronald!
* Adventurous Kate
Frankly, I still have no idea how Kate does it. But she travels, she works, she finances her dream come true. Find more on her blog and solo travels!