December 30, 2007

blogger ::hearts:: firefox

Apparently all of my earlier woes were not Mac related, but Safari related. I switched to Firefox, and all is forgiven.

Which is good, because Firefox is what I am bringing with me. So hopefully, I shouldn't run into lots o' formatting and publishing problems along the way.

Though, if I do have formatting problems, y'all can deal. It's third world Internet cafe publishing; we cannot have the stars, after all.

i love visitors

I am sorry I ever doubted. Though, in my defense, it is the VERY END of December now, I leave in about two weeks, and we are talking about extended international travel in about six weeks. So I'm sorry if I didn't have faith that planning that had not happened prior to this afternoon would actually take place.

But it did! And my sister has signed, sealed, and purchased plane fares to come meet me in New Zealand and do the south island together. We also booked some bus tickets, figured out an itinerary, and decided to rent a car in parts, as it would be much more economical. Possibly hysterical and certainly terrifying, yes, but also more economical. I picture particularly gruesome scenes from
The Amazing Race, only with more profanity. We are pulling for an automatic, though. Even though my sister and I both drive stick on a daily basis, I am deeply frightened at the prospect of attempting to shift with the wrong hand. And where is first? Is it on the left, like on my car? Or closest to me, like on my car? Worrisome...

But she is definitely coming, which helps assuage the fear o' loneliness some, and it also means I can leave a pile of things for her to bring me and collect things for her to bring back with her. Did I not mention my sister is 1/4 pack mule?

December 23, 2007

drive me crazy

This summer, a friend was having a bitch of a time getting her passport renewal sent back to her in time for her honeymoon, and the saga of it made me sort of irrationally paranoid about my own. I checked it just about daily – it doesn't need to be renewed does it? It doesn't say 2008, does it, because that's next year, you know. Every time I read about the visa requirement for one country or another requiring a passport valid for six months out - pretty standard in most countries - I would check it AGAIN. My passport has like 4 years on it; I think I'm good.

And yet, it wasn’t until I was filling out the paperwork for the new bank account I am getting for my trip (see how thorough I am? I've done my research) that I noticed my driver's license expires on my next birthday. In April. While I am in Greece. Awesome.

No, it’s not a big deal at all to take care of, but yeah, I kind of feel like an idiot.

December 17, 2007

reef sadness

I got depressed last night, and not over crappy America, but over Australia.

There is already so much I am not doing on this trip (Brazil, Vietnam, China, India, Russia, South Africa....I have to stop. It's getting more depressing). Mostly, I am ok with that. It's been tough to give things up, but I keep reminding myself that this is not a death trip, and that I have decades and decades to travel the world after this, so not going now is all right.

When I poured through New Zealand guidebooks, I ended up basically packing my time there with so much stuff, and I still already want to go back. With Australia, I have a pretty basic itinerary - one week Melbourne, one week Sydney plus a couple of days Blue Mountains, one week along the reef. It's not completely complete; even know I can feel my friend giving me the grumpy sad face that I am not going to the West Coast at all (I PROMISE I am going back someday, Wom!), and I am not going to the Outback, so clearly someday I need to go back to Australia. I am a city person, really, so that is a good place to start.

But I am getting really depressed trying to decide where to go. I want to go to everywhere in Queensland, it all looks so perfect. And while I know that by the time I reach Australia I will be far enough in that I will welcome the chance to find a great beach and just stay a week (plus, Australia is huge and expensive, so changing locations is no easy feat). But looking at the possibilities, it makes me sad that by choosing one good place, I am not going to any of the others.

Current top choices for my reef week are Whitsunday coast (where I can book a sailing trip, or ferry about the islands; pricey, but come on: FERRY ABOUT THE ISLANDS) or Great Keppel Island (which is a bit plane-bus-shuttle-ferry to get to, but looks like its quiet and beachy and snorkely and is supposed to be perfect). Technically, they are about 7-8 hours apart all told, so if I choose one and feel like traveling more, I can try the other, but I will have to choose one to fly into initially.

Aren't my dilemmas awesome? Oh, woe is me, I can't decide where to sun myself along the Great Barrier Reef. Trauma! But seriously, I take suggestions...

December 16, 2007

ready, set

Today, I am ready to go. It fluctuates wildly, and I am sure it will continue to do so, but today, I am ready to leave. It's a good thing, too, because exactly one month from today, I will arrive in Ushuaia. And so it will begin.

Last weekend, I went to LA to see friends. I still don't miss the city, pretty much at all (except you, House of Pies! I miss you most of all!), but it really hit me how much I miss the indepenence of having a life on my own. Don't get me wrong - I recognize how forutunate I am to have been able to move back home, and how even luckier I am that it has been such a great experience. For most people, living with the 'rents at age 28 isn't exactly ideal, but my parents are pretty awesome, and I seem to have some innate sense for when I am supposed to be home. Plus, looking at me a year ago and me today, it's pretty clear that it was what I needed. But I am still ready to once again be living on my own. It won't be the same when I am traveling, obviously, and as my tethers to my permanent mailing address, I am still going to be leaving on mom & dad pretty heavily, but I am once again eager for the sense of self-sufficiency.

I also watched Sicko this weekend. Naturally, I got re-depressed at the woeful state of American affairs and I thought a lot about heading out to the world. First, please, all illnesses and injuries, if you could hold off until I hit the Scandinavian countries, that would be AWESOME. Mmm, free health care...

But really, I keep coming back to the part where he is talking to a group of American expats living in Paris, and how the society is set up so that the government prioritizes quality of life above profit, and therefore, things like family, wellness, and happiness are of paramount importance (of course, most of this is because the French will riot and strike whenever they are unhappy, which is not good either, but still). I am not really planning to just stay somewhere I like, necessarily, but I like the reminder that there are places out there that are not America, and that is becoming more and more of a good thing.

December 11, 2007

big day

I quit my job today.

It was sort of impulsive - I had intended to wait until I saw my boss in person on Thursday, but I decided to just do it, and now it's done. Yay! Everyone knows I am leaving in less than a month.

I also started to make reservations - I have a place to lay my head the first two nights in Ushuaia, and I have one bus ticket in New Zealand. I am going to make more soon.

Combine all that with finishing my apps, and today was quite momentous. Plus, we are putting up the Christmas tree. Big day!

Caught between two forums

Since this is primarily my travel blog, I don't talk about much else going on in my life unless it somehow directly relates to my trip. To be fair, I don't have a whole lot going on that doesn't somehow relate - when one is leaving in just over a month for a RTW adventure, apparently it gets pretty consuming. Who knew? - but I do do things in life beyond making to do lists and shop for hostels in Cambodia. I just don't really talk about them.

Clearly the sampling is a bit skewed, but the concept of having other things, things that may be important and consuming and interesting that are not travel related, is a fairly foreign one on most hard-core travel forums. Now, of course most of these people are like me and this blog - they have families, jobs, hobbies, lives that keep them busy outside of their posting, but those things are not really relevant to the forum, so they don't get talked about. The result, though, is an environment that almost...frowns upon the idea that there could be anything else important that could be a priority over your travel. If you are only casually interested in a trip, might as well take off for a Sandals Jamaica and not bother any genuine vagabonders.

Not only that, but there is a fairly narrow definition of acceptable travel. If you have a car that you want to own when you come back, a job that you are reluctant to leave, or a set itinerary that you want to follow, then it's somehow not a real RTW. And god forbid you decide to do a package tour - the horror! I don't mean it to sound bad, but there is a rather "Are you now or have you ever been considering a stay at a resort hotel?" judgemental vibe to the whole thing. A trip that is short, planned and NOT the culmination of prolonged planning and sacrifice is often - by word or by attitude - deemed lesser. Don't ask me why.

It's one of the reasons I mostly read, and rarely speak up. I am going for only 7 months; during that time, I am planning to visit 6 continents, and often just a country or two in each (the conventional wisdom in most places would be to spend 6 months in Asia or South America and really travel extensively, rather than hopping from place to place); and I am also bringing jeans with me, fie on their heaviness and their long drying time. I don't fit in, quite, and I know I would get heckled for doing thigs "wrong," so I take the good advice and leave the rest.

And it's too bad that there is such a closed-off attitude to people doing other things; if there weren't, these people could potentially be BFF with the folks on the other forums I frequent. See, before I go, in the midst of planning, I am also applying to graduate school - PhD programs, to be exact. So I idly peruse a couple of communities for wannabe grad schoolers, mostly out of boredom and vague interest (it's not quite as much fun - I've applied and been to grad school before, so it does not hold the same wonder).

Again, a lot of it is a function of the focus of the community - and the rampant stress present - but most have an attitude that if you want to do ANYthing else EVER in LIFE besides grad school, you may as well be in the business of eating babies. If you have not been cooing dissertation proposals from the womb, then this is the wrong place for you, go away, don't waste our time. I don't fit there either - not just for having another interests, but because a PhD was not always my number one choice, I did not study for 8 months for the GRE, and writing a statement of purpose does not send me into apoplectic fits of fear.

I may not belong, precisely, but I personally enjoy the fact that I will not ever prioritize one over the other. If I successfully manage this, heading around the world and coming back just in time to start a program, then I think that it will be better off for it. Despite daring to have something to come back to by a set date, and despite having something else that I want just as badly as a doctorate. I dare so much!

All of this is to say that I dropped my very last applications in the mail today, so I am officially done applying. As glad as I am that I can now, finally, concentrate full time on my planning, I am even more thankful that my stressful time of waiting to hear and handling rejection will be spent in various parts of South America and Oceana. Talk about having something else to concentrate on...

December 06, 2007


Sometimes, in the midst of all of the places I am so excited to get to, I have to remind myself that where I am leaving can be pretty awesome.

I am a born-and-raised Californian, and here in the Bay Area, we don't do inclimate weather. It's not nearly as bad as LA, with its creepy Stepford weather and its never-ceasing early summer; we do have our warm bits and our cold bits, but it's all relative. And only now, in early December, are we getting the good stuff: overcast, drizzly, misty days and pretty orangey trees. It is still missing the crispness that would make it autumn in the rest of the 
country, but this is winter of my childhood. It is also the only winter I will have this year. And it reminds me that home can be a lovely place to be sometimes.

December 03, 2007

blogger woes

I don't know what kind of a case of the Mondays is rocking blogger, but it's annoying as all get out. My previous two posts (which, now that I think of it, were posted from home and my Mac, so that may be connected) managed to enjoy some massively entertaining formatting woes. The text was the wrong size, the leading changed from the first paragraph to the rest, as did the line spacing. I am clueless when it comes to this, so I didn't eve know we COULD change the leading and line spacing. And it also randomly changed font size in the first paragraph.

I formatted and reformatted, all to no avail; those posts would not be made uniform! So ultimately, I retyped the first paragraph, and that cleared up the sizing issues. It also randomly gave it an extra line between each paragraph (...?), but one more edit cleared those up.

So, as I said: NO idea why blogger was doing this to me. But all of this is to say that I am currently at work, during what appears to be a monumentally slow quarter. I have time and nothing better to fill it, so I will play format detective and make it all right. But don't get too cozy - I feel like when I start posting from random countries and random internet cafes, all caring for format goes right out the window.

PS, this whole entry formatted just fine....

November 30, 2007


I went to the doc yesterday for my travel visit. I am now officially poked full of yellow fever vaccine (which hurts like a bitch, y'all), boosted with adult polio, and the proud owner of four hose pillse to guard me against typhoid for the next five years. And the best part is I also get a month's worth of malaria pills to bring with me, just in case. I don't know why it amuses me that they are contingency malaria pills, but there it is.

(I have them in case I decide to go on an overnight to Iguacu Falls in Argentina, stay past dusk at Angkor Wat or take an overnight border crossing into Cambodia, or go to Laos).

This combines with the vaccines I got over the summer from the regular injection clinic. I am not completely guarded against absolutely everything - while I am just fine with inviting over a pile of yellow feverites for an evening of Twister and sneezing at each other, I am only 90% safe on Hep A. I got one shot, but won't get the other until I am back. So no nice Hep A and snow pea saute for me on the road this trip. Sad times.

But I want to say, mad love for Kaiser right now. Reading the travel forums and the like, apparently it's pretty common for folks to set aside a couple hundred for their vaccinations. Mine cost me my copay for the office visit and the two prescriptions; that's it. Yay, Kaiser. I WILL thrive, thank you!

I am a terrible blogger.

This is why you never send me chain letters, people. That chain will invariably make its quiet and unnoticed demise with me. I am way too lazy to make them work - even those ones that involve two people and a recipe exchange? I have yet to pass one of those on. And I love to cook and collect new recipes. Hopeless, I am.

Anyhow, all of this is to say: arduous tagged me (even though she KNOWS I am utterly useless) so I will give my seven things. But since I don't know a single blogger who has not been tagged, it all ends with me.

And despite the entire purpose of my blog, not one of mine will be travel related:

1. My favorite flavors for fake-flavored things are root beer and green apple; I do not particularly like root beer or green apples.

2. I have a random tendon thing on my right hand that I can wiggle at will. It's sort of hard to explain, but those rope things that run the length of the knuckle, that move when your finger moves? On the pinky of my right hand (and only that hand) I can make it wag back and forth, without moving the finger. No idea why.

3. I have only ever owned Honda cars.

4. I have a complicated relationship with tomatoes. I hate them in general and won't eat them, but I will eat and do like tomato products. I love ketchup, I eat marinara, I eat salsa - but mostly because I love vinegar, basil, garlic, oregano, chiles, etc. If it is a chunky salsa, pizza sauce, whatever, I tend to eat around the tomato chunks. Plain tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato juice, are all the root of evil. Mushrooms are simpler, and I won't eat them in any form.

5. I watch on average 30 hours of television a week.

6. I crack my neck, back, all finger joints, and toes. I no longer do it as a habit, but only when they are stiff or sore, but that means cracking on pretty much a daily basis. I also pop ankles, knees, elbows and, weirdly, my breastbone (which I didn't think had a joint...?), but only when they go wonky, I cannot do it at will.

7. I regularly sleep face down, with no fewer than 5 pillows and one full body pillow on the bed.

I think I am supposed to post rules or some such, but whatever. You can't tell me what to do.

November 10, 2007

rollin' in it

i sat down tonight to do all my dull financial stuff (because that's how i roll on a saturday evening, y'all), and i calculated my savings account. i make direct withdrawls to my ING account with every paycheck, and have for the past year. i also try to put as much of my paycheck from second job into ING as well, plus any extra i have from being a good girl and not going to lush (or mervyn's, apparently).

assuming i stay on schedule and make the deposits as planned for the rest of the year (and there's only three; really no reason why i won't), i will have totally hit my savings goal for my trip. it's a big number, and i am actually really proud of myself. i have no intention of spending the whole wad in the course of the trip, because i get jittery without savings and i would like a solid nest egg to use as re-entry money, but it's a good enough bundle that i don't think i need to panic on the road. i should do just fine, and still have plenty to go see priscilla in sydney like my mom wants me to.

November 03, 2007

binging & purging

I went shopping today, which as I have mentioned I...don't do. It felt a little weird, to go out without no intention of buying anything (when not going to REI. It seems I always buy something at REI. For the trip!)

It started slow: first stop, farmer's market with mom. I bought nothing myself, though my have heavily influenced the purchase of some persimmons and some of the last raspberries of the season. I am unrepentant on either count.

Next, we hit up the flea market, with the sister in tow. Despite the name, there is little used crap at this flea market; it's much more a craft/staple market, but that does not sound as cool, and it does not at all detract from the awesomeness of the place. I didn't buy much, and nothing pricey, and it was all gifts for friends, but it felt so foreign to buy things that have not been on several lists for months.

But apparently, I opened some flood gates, because our next stop – at MERVYN'S of all places – I went a bit nuts. All staples, all things I need and will wear constantly, all on sale, but man did it feel like gorging myself on three guilty pleasures at once.

So to balance it out, I came home tonight and listed things for sale on eBay. I've been meaning to for a while, and it seems like a good time to offset my new possessions & the money I spent on them. I'm not selling a lot, and nothing particularly exotic (and, note to self, much of it was stuff I originally BOUGHT on eBay; the auction system does not fare will with my impulsive nature), just stuff that I do not need and will probably not move with me when I relocate (again) once I am back from traveling. So if I don't need them now, might as well get the money.

Now I just have to hope someone is as impulsive as I am and bids on these things!

I also went through my closet and pulled out a bunch of clothes and shoes and bags and books for the next charity pick up. I have started doing it for every pick up time, so I sometimes don't have a lot to give away, but the purging has gotten pretty addictive. It feels refreshing to get rid of things that I don't need and don't want and don't fit and have worn out, and pare it down to only the stuff I love and use. Don't get me wrong, I still have outrageous amounts of "stuff," but it gets more managable each month.

It's no
Vow of Non-Consumerism, but moving from a one-bedroom apartment and back in with the 'rents, curbing all purchases in order to save money, planning to spend the better part of next year traveling with very few material possessions, and the idea that I will move again when I come back has been very, very good about ridding me of some unnecessary clutter.

October 31, 2007


I decided to go around the world because nothing else was working out. Despite my pretty compelling laziness, I have always been a fairly driven person, and was consequently convinced (at least in my head) that I was going to Be Something someday. I worked towards it, followed all the right things, said no to drugs, stayed in school, etc.

I got jobs, and got better jobs, and moved onwards and upwards. Until I was living in a city I did not like (what up, LA!), doing a job that I had grown beyond, and looking for a change. One protracted, disheartening and fruitless job search later, and our hero is well and truly depressed. The problem was the realization not that I was not going to get one of these jobs I was vying for, but that I didn't really...want them. The actual jobs and the actual industry were so far removed from what I was passionate about and what I wanted to do that even if I had what I was supposed to be working for, I still wouldn't be happy.

So, okay, so time to regroup and figure out what it is, instead, that is going to make me happy, since it will no longer be this path to this career, clearly. I put in notice at my apartment, and start to bandy about wild notions -- I should move to a small town and open a movie theatre; I should become a pastry chef; I should find a sugar daddy (still considering that last one, too). I should chuck it all and go around the world.

That one stuck.

When I was in college and therabouts, I was huge on travel. During those four years, I went to London enough that I actually got BORED WITH IT. Can you imagine? But one thing I always coveted about British culture was the respect for taking off. It was in London, and all of the zillions of travel agents that are everywhere, that I noticed the "Around the World" fare that was at the end of every single deal board out front. That was when I got the pipe dream of taking off for a year and just heading all around, going to every single place that I want to see. It was one of the things that I knew I was never going to do, because I had this spectacular career path all figured out in my head, and that made me sad, but it was just the way it is.

And then, suddenly, career out, travel in. So I quit my job and moved home with my parents(glamorous!). I got another job, one that also brought me back to academia a bit, which I had missed, that actually paid more. And I started to save.

The idea was, if I am going to try to figure out where I want to be, I can do it miserable and aimless in a place, both literal and figurative, that I hate, or I can do it on my own on Thai beaches and Chilean glaciers and Croatian cities. I clearly lost a bit of the original dream when it came down to it -- I could go round the world three times, and just keep coming up with places I wanted to see, and I am not going for a full year, and I am doing it on the cheap -- but the essence is the same: look out world.

So that is why I am doing this -- nothing else worked out, so I am doing something for me. Something that I know I cannot regret. Something that I never thought I would be able to do.

October 24, 2007

In defense of product

Under the best of circumstances, I am an absolute sucker for new beauty products--good smells, cute packaging, grandiose claims, whatever, I'm sold, give me the new face masque. Or lotion. Or scrub. Or all three.

So combine that with the fact that I have been under a spending embargo for pretty much a year. I have been trying my very best to save, and while success has been dubious at times, I have gotten better as my departure date draws nearer and the costs of all I want to do become more real.

Pretty much the only thing left that I can buy guilt free? Items "for the trip." OK, so maybe I played a little fast and loose with the definition of "for the trip" a time or two, but when I don't buy ANYthing but gas and asiago bagels from Panera, I go a little mad sometimes. So what if I justify a heady dash through the world of product as "for the trip?" I need to make an educated decision as to what toiletries I am taking with, don't I? I can't wind up in Patagonia with an oily face and stringy hair, can I?

I know that every RTW book, blog and forum tells chicks doing long-term travel to give up vanity and embrace the low maintenance/inner hag look. To that, I say: Pshaw and whatever, book, blog and forum clearly written by men (And yes, I regret it on the road or in hindsight, I will absolutely and publicly eat my words.). In my day-to-day life homeside, I am not very high maintenance, but what I need, I need. My hair is about 1.5 inches long at its longest. I don't need to wash it every day, I don't ever condition it, I don't need to comb it, but I also do not have the luxury of the ponytail option. So I am sorry, I need some product. I am not talking about a barrage of serums and gels and lotions and a fistful of straightening/curling/flattening ionic whatever irons, just my one beloved bottle of Bumble & Bumble. Otherwise, quite frankly, my hair will feather itself into a gigantic butt on my head. That is not a look I need to take on the road.

I've been deep in love with Lush because it really does complete me. Not only is everything so very soft and smell so very good, but they sell most things like meat at the deli -- you want a thin slice of 3 soaps, they price 'em by the pound and wrap them up. It's a dabbling shopper's dream: I get to appease my evil consumerist tendencies without getting tons of different stuff, just a bit of this and some of that. Plus, Lush has mastered the genius of solid shampoo. How great is that for travel? No liquids! Just rub a little on your scalp, and you are good to go; 8 of a pound lasts months! I was so set.

So, yeah. All of this really is my justification for going to Lush today and buying, buying, buying. But, see, they are discontinuing the shampoo I had already chosen! It's been tried and tested, does not give me butt head, does not let my hair get greasy or dry or flaky or flyaway or lifeless (when you have short hair, which I love, it sort of magnifies any of your hair's negative characteristics, which I do not), plus it even gives a little red hue. I mean, I won't be devastated if I can't buy more of it when I get back, but it had already made the cut and was on my list! In pen! And now it's a limited-time purchase? That huge chunk I bought is totally justified. It's for the trip.

October 10, 2007

testing the waters

I am taking off for nearly seven months, and I will have any sort of company for maybe…5 weeks of that time? At most? Spread out? So clearly, I need to get comfortable doing the traveling and all that it involves – the navigating, arranging, logistics, the pain in the ass stuff – all on my own.

And what better dry run than Milwaukee!

…yeah, I don’t know. But I was visiting friends in Chicago, and taking a couple of days to visit Madison, so I thought, why not? I’ve never been to Milwaukee, visited only in my most vivid Laverne & Shirley fantasies.

Turns out, Milwaukee is rather pretty:

ALSO turns out: I can up and decide to go somewhere, go there, wander some, find some lunch, and find my way out, all without a map, a plan, or any idea where I am. This bodes well for me, I think.

September 26, 2007


About 90% of the time, the thought of my big trip -- all the places I will go, all the things I get to see, the sheer magnitude of it all -- makes me extraordinarily giddy. And yeah, pretty much 100% of the time, I can't quite believe its real and that I am really doing this.

But to be very, very honest and up front? There is the other 10% of the time. It's scary as hell, what I am doing, and every once in a while, it gets to me.

All told, I am going to be on the road for about 7 months. In the scheme of most travel, this is a very long time; in the scheme of most RTW trips that I have read about, this is nothing; it's barely a trip. I have actually deliberately avoided discussing my itinerary with hard-core RTW enthusiasts because I am not taking off for three years to wander planless in India and Peru with nothing but a bandanna and a wicking shirt. But the length of my trip came from partially practical reasons (what I could afford, what I needed/wanted to be at home for, etc) and by emotional ones (how I could best balance everywhere I wanted to go with how long I could be gone before I would start to feel overwhelmed, lonely or homesick). So 7 months it is.

I will have some company in at least two places (and I am working on people for maybe a couple of more), plus I am taking at least one tour for a couple of weeks. And of course, I am likely to meet people here and there, which will keep things interesting. But by and large, it's all me, on my own, which can be a bit intimidating at times.

In general, I am a fairly solitary person who does not mind being alone. When I was living by myself in Los Angeles, my idea of a perfect weekend as to essentially do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, which usually included some yoga, some running around, and a whole lot of my futon and my TiVo.

So what will happen to this lazy, solitary homebody out on the road for umpteen weeks? I honestly have no idea, and sometimes I worry. I worry that my constant efforts to stay on budget will wear me out; I worry that trying to see so much in so many places will make me feel tired or isolated; I worry that bouncing from continent to continent will make me feel disconnected from my life and my home and my family. And I worry that some combination of the above or something unforeseen will cause me to go all introvert hermit-like; wouldn't it be terrible to miss some city because I miss my TiVo?

It is an awesome TiVo, though.

But to be fair, like I said,, this is a 10%-problem; the rest of the time I am convinced that what I am doing is and will be the most awesome thing I ever do in my life, and that whatever happens, I'll handle it.

September 10, 2007

aren't they beeeyootiful?

...or, alternately, maybe they look like some paper on my floor.

but whatever, they'll get me 'round the world.

September 07, 2007

Who knew?

I think I am dating my plane tickets. And I don't mean that in a "I love my travel arrangements so much I want to marry them" sort of way (though I do, plane tickets, I do. Seriously. Meet me after. Rawr.). I mean that the start of major, long-term travel? Apparently just like the start of a relationship. Who knew?

I have never bought a house or applied for a boat loan or anything, so it's entirely possible that those sorts of major-grade purposes are very much like this. For me, all of my buying has pretty much been of the walk up--hand over Visa--walk away with new cake of Lush Snowcake soap (have you smelled that stuff? Fantastic!). There has not previously in my buying history been the fear that it could all get taken away.

Yesterday afternoon, after I'm riding high from actually BUYING TICKETS, I have to continue to work. Way to be a buzz kill, real life; fortunately, I only have to deal with you for 4.5 more months. And as I continue to work, I miss a phone call from my travel agent.

I get the voicemail, right before they are going to close, and naturally freak the eff out. I am paranoid that I can no longer fly from Buenos Aires to Auckland, that the flights have all gone up $2K, that I somehow have not been "approved" for travel (don't ask on the last one; my freak outs and logic have never been introduced).

More than anything else, it felt like that feeling you get after a kickass first or second date, when things are friggin' awesome and you two are going to get married and have perfect little babies that will get full scholarships to every college they apply to. And then he doesn't call, and you have that feeling in your stomach, like that which you wanted most of anything in the world has been snatched away and you want to cry? That's the feeling when your travel agent calls with a "hitch." Who knew?

If, perhaps, that analogy is not illuminating enough (in which case, I may hate you), it's the same as the please-hire-me internal wail that becomes commonplace in a job search. You send off your resume, you polish your cover letter, and then you reread the job description. And you would be so perfect for this! It's brilliant! Wonderful! Please hire meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Yeah, that wail. Same feeling.

So apparently I am either dating or being hired by my plane tickets? It may not make sense, but that's what it darn well feels like - like somehow, my travel plans were rejecting me. I mean I know that I am not good enough for glacier-hiking in Patagonia, but I didn't expect the airline to know that. I was kinda planning to squeak by unnoticed.

But regardless, it really just turned out that my credit card company was not keen on the multiple, multi-thousand dollar charges showing up on my card. Heh. So I called them, got it straightened, and the tickets went through, no problem.

Little half annie/half plane ticket babies, here I come.

September 06, 2007

holy *#%!ing *#%!

i just spent two months gross pay in one swoop and there is, quite literally, no going back now.

i am officially the proud, if theoretical, owner of both one ginormous credit card charge and 10 plane tickets to take me around the world and back starting next january - theoretical because RTW tickets evidently don't come electronically, so I will have to go pick up my crisp, lovely, tangible tickets next week.

the itinerary has been floating and re-formulating in my head for months now. even after i had a departure date (january), which gave me a direction (westward, ho!), there are still so many variables that i had to play around with. some placed got dropped early on, for time - i am doing the entire world, and not hitting india, or china, or russia - and some for money, like south africa and brazil and easter island.

then i got to streamlining - dubai was in there for a long time, because come on - how cool to go sunning on the persian gulf and go see those freaking PRIVATE ISLANDS in the shape of palm trees and the continents and get henna tatoos in a bazaar and i have to stop talking about it because it will make me sad i am not going. dubai came in because one online travel place put me through there as essentially a free connection, and then i added it as a must see because it sounded cool enough. dubai left because i didn't book through that travel place, and so the cost of getting there + the cost of being there + the stories i've heard of dubai as alternately dull for us poor folk and/or unpleasant for us womenfolk made it no longer worth it.

egypt was another that was supposed to be on my rtw itinerary, but i decided that i could get there just as economically by finding a cut-rate flight from europe. so it left the overall planning, but is still being planned on for next spring.

and then there is patagonia. it's so impractical, and all accounts, it should be long, long gone from the plans. it's expensive, hard to navigate, and huge. but...i just couldn't give it up. there was no place i could substitute in that wouldn't continue to make me sad. so i kept working on it with a lovely travel agent who did not seem to want to slap me or anything, and voila. i'm going to patagonia - all the way down to see the bottom of the world. and i know scandinavia will essentially drain money directly from my bank account, but i don't care - it's my #1 must-see place, so it stays. and i'm going - all the way up to see the top of the world.

so now, in its full glory, my itinerary:
in january, i head south for about three and a half weeks of patagonia (both argentina and chile) and buenos aires.
then 3.5 weeks in new zealand
then 3.5 weeks in australia
then 3.5 weeks in southeast asia
then off to europe for about 3 months. must-sees there are greece, croatia, scandinavia and egypt. beyond that, it will just be whereever my whims take me - turkey? iceland? morocco? who knows.

at the end of july, i come home.