Everything starts with good intentions. On the weekly Twitter #RTWchat I was intrigued by the Indie 30 Art Project when it was mentioned. Initially, it seemed perfect for me, a daily prompt about travel – inspiration to produce a blog post, instagram photo, video or other artistic interpretation and share with the community. But the word “daily” got in the way, it started to weigh me down, the expectations, the almost work feel to it, so I printed the prompts and let them pile up here on my desk. So in the spirit of spring cleaning this weekend, I decided to group Week 1 Introduction prompts into one post and go from there (baby steps folks as I ignore that I should be on Week 3 with the rest of the group). I would love you to participate with me, pick a prompt below and comment on your view/experience/opinion.
A Changing World View – How has your view of the world changed because of travel?
My view of the world was initally formed from what I saw on television, read in newspapers, views of family & friends and from books until I traveled. Travel opened my mind up to so many different experiences, views and made me challenge much of my beliefs. Traveling allows me to watch news programs and read newspapers in other countries to get a different spin on the U.S. and the World. Most of the world doesn’t dislike Americans as we are led to believe, in my opinion people dislike our politics (heck, I’m apt to agree with them at times, I’m not a fan of our politics either) and how it affects their lives thousands of miles away but the folks I’ve met along the way can separate out the people and the government. What I’ve learned traveling is that we are all people first with the same wants and needs ideally – be successful, raise families, find happiness and be loved. Attending film festivals has also been an eye opener – I’ve seen amazing films, including fascinating documentaries, met directors and actors from many countries. No matter what language, the messages are the same – the people in all countries want to laugh, cry and share in the experiences of life, love and happiness.
Travel Origin – When did you get the travel itch?
My first international trip to London was during a college fall break over Thanksgiving in the late 80’s. I remember all of the “wow” moments and realizing how much I wanted to learn about new cultures firsthand. Being in London, the most important rule was “Look Left”. The internet didn’t exist then so I didn’t have pictures, blogs or research to help me – I had a heavy guidebook that I poured over trying to breathe in all of the data. I craved more knowledge of the world.
Your Travel Style – We all travel differently. In fact, we have probably all had different travel styles over the years. How do you travel? What is your style?
My travel style is basically do what I want – no worries, no regrets, no shoulda, coulda, woulda or worry about the costs because who knows when I’ll be back? This isn’t to say I don’t budget, I do, but I’m not going to fret too much about the costs to have an amazing experience. I might eat a croissant for breakfast instead of the full English to save money and then splash out on wine and fancy dinner. The time of the PB&J, the restraint, is at home when you are saving, not on the road, in my opinion.
In New Zealand, they called me the “flashpacker” and I was ok with that. We traveled on the Magic Bus and while others stayed at hostels on their gap year travel, I retired to the hotel. I’m a hotel girl and while I survived the tent in Botswana, I really do like to be comfortable with all the things I don’t have at home (fancy beds, room service, nice wine). Vacations/travel are a reward for hard work so I do enjoy myself within reason.
Overland – A big part of long-term travel is traveling overland. What is your preferred method of overland travel? Do you have any awesome/hilarious/horrifying stories to tell
I prefer to walk but obviously can’t do that between cities and countries. Train travel has always brought about interesting times. While I’ve always wanted to meet my “Jesse” from Before Sunrise on the train and get off to explore the town, sadly, that hasn’t happened yet. What did happen was a tour group train stop without a guide when we realized we had to get off here, now and quickly. We started throwing the luggage out of the windows of our compartments to other group members on the platform. It is quite funny looking back, but in the moment, I just prayed someone could lift my “kitchen sink” bag and that it didn’t get stuck in the window.
Another train trip, this time in New Zealand. I took the ferry from Wellington to catch the train from Picton down the coast to Christchurch. At the station, I was assigned a solo seat, however, when I went to board the car, a senior citizen tour group wouldn’t let me sit in my seat in “their” car. This group of seniors (American sadly) were all territorial and high school saying I can’t join them, it was their private car. I had to get the conductor involved and not wanting to spend the next five hours with this group, I asked to be reassigned after telling them they were mean old people who should know better (or maybe I said that in my mind? anyway, I said something). My new seat ended up across from Tom, an American from California traveling on his own. We were joined by a young couple a few stops later. We had great conversations and the time flew by just as it should when you meet fellow travelers. Invites to drinks and dinner were extended and it made the journey so much better.
Passion – We know you’re passionate about travel or else you wouldn’t be here. What else in life drives you? What are you passionate about? Do you live a passion driven life?
Travel, Points/Miles game, Dessert, Cookies, Chocolate, Film Festivals, Theatre, Music, Art, Photography, Lithe Method cardio/cheer/sculpt workouts, helping people, my hometown of Philadelphia, Honesty, Knowledge, Logic, Being A Good Person, Meeting New People and establishing connections- all are passions. I tend to think all of these drive me to be a better person and live a balanced life.
Saving Money – Money, or lack thereof, is the biggest excuse we hear from people for why they don’t take a big trip. How did you overcome this obstacle? Or if it is still an obstacle, do you have a plan in place to save for travel?
Travel is a necessity to me, it isn’t a luxury anymore, it is a way to reset my mind, body and spirit. I budget for travel just like I budget rent, food, car insurance. If it is important to you, you save for it. It isn’t about the big trip, you can travel in your hometown for free and it still counts – anytime you leave your house to explore somewhere new you are traveling, so money isn’t a good excuse in my opinion. If you get in the miles/points game (often called travel hacking, not a term I like), you can travel for much less. I’ve been using miles/points to travel in business class and stay in nice hotels for years. The savings achieved, I then use to upgrade my experiences (i.e. – helicopter tour, private guides, luxury safari camps, Sydney Bridge Climb). Without points/miles, I wouldn’t have visited Easter Island, Africa, Europe, Australia, Canada, done my RTW trip or the cruises in Baltics, Turkey/Greece, Med Cruise. I’m extremely fortunate that I learned to play the game, albeit conservatively, and am excited to share the trip with my niece this summer made possible with this points game.
Packing – Some people pack heavy. Some pack light. Some love packing. Some hate it. What type of packer are you?
I have the “kitchen sink” luggage – it’s big and I use it only for cruises now. Over the years, I’ve lessened the packing, it will never be backpack light but I’m proud that my ten day bag equals most friend’s weekend bag. My packing is strategic now and generally includes one roller bag and a backpack carryon. For safari, I split into two bags – one duffel for safari, one suitcase with my city clothes. For the last RTW, I did the same – Australia suitcase warm weather and Paris duffel for winter weather. My packing routine is layering a cake of clothes – I use dry cleaning bag to line the suitcase (doubles as ice pack, trash bag, etc) and then build my masterpiece. I live out of the suitcase so it’s imperative that outfits are layered together. I love the challenge.
Recently, my mom was going on her first international trip and I went to help her pack. I walked in to see her luggage filled to the top with boxes of granola bars, cheese crackers, a full sized bottle of mouthwash, a hairdryer, candy and other horrors of a first time traveler/packer (“Mom, they have food and mouthwash in Germany”). I told her to leave the room and bring me ziploc bags, plastic supermarket bags and a few other things. I went to work, called my sister to bring mini mouthwashes and when done my mom had an entire side empty to fill. She looked at me and said “you are pretty good at this”, I had to laugh – “Mom, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, I should be good at it by now”.