Around the World for the Hell of It
Noble readers, I have alluded in previous posts to my 2012 Trip Around the World. (Getting a better name for this trip is on the to-do list.) Now, in order to procrastinate on some things I really need to get done, I have decided to lay out the inception of this idea.
The beginnings were simple:
Leftover Fulbright money + friends abroad + desire not to get a job = Why don’t I go to Japan?
I had been wanting to visit Laura and Jonathan ever since they left two and half years ago, but there was always a lack of either time or money to prevent me from going. However, these two obstacles being removed and this being their last year in Japan, I became determined to make it there at some point.
However, there seemed some folly in spending over a thousand dollars for airfare only to stay in Japan for a week or two. And Japan is really close to some other cool places - mainly Russia, which I clearly can’t keep my hands off of. Riding the Trans-Siberian Railroad had coincidentally appeared on my Bucket List around the same time that I was making the commitment to go to Japan. So I added that to the docket. I purposely timed my trip so that I would be in Japan for winter break and then in Russia before the snow melts. Some consider me crazy for going to Siberia in winter, but I can vouch for winter being pleasanter than any other season there.
What to do when I reached Europe at the end of the Trans-Siberian line, though? Well, it would be almost spring by then, so why not spend a few months working on organic farms and seeing some parts of Europe that I had missed on previous trips? I finally added a stop in China between Japan and Russia when another friend decided to move there, and the basic itinerary was set.
It all seems to flow so nicely when you just have the basic outline down. Seattle’s on the way to Japan, right? So I’ll visit friends there while I’m at it. And winter out west means skiing! Then fly to Japan, take a boat to China, and then it’s railways from there to Paris. I can play it by ear. All I have to do is make sure I save enough money for the return trip.
Easier said than done. I knew that I would have to get visas to China and Russia, but a late yet uncompromising addition of Belarus, whose representatives go out of the way to make things difficult, has thrown a wrench in my application timelines. Visas and gear are also extremely expensive, and my budget just keeps getting tighter. In order to not screw myself and end up totally broke in the Balkans, I have had to be much more specific in my itinerary (e.g., to buy Eurail passes) and give up on a lot of spontaneity.
The sensible thing to do would be to cut out Belarus, especially since my friend there has moved to Russia, and save the hassle and the visa fees. I just can’t give it up yet, though. I want to see if it is really like going back in time to the Soviet 1950’s (not that I would really know…) and visit a national park to see a zoobr.
Even though I’m trying to make money while home and to tailor the trip to stay within my means, I also don’t want to compromise much. There are tons of ways to save money, from Eurail passes to couch surfing to camping and WOOFing. These are also all great ways to meet people - one of the boons of solo travel.
Being young is for sailing into the unknown, and there is a sense of daring excitement in knowing that I might run out of money, and if I do, I will have to use my wits to stay alive and get home.
- mmort posted this