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Published: November 9th 2011
I started my Round The World backpacking journey October 10, 2006, 50 months ago today. Prior to leaving on this trip, I had traveled and seen much of South East Asia every year since my first time to Thailand back in 2003 (back when I was a naive "suitcaser"), but this time I wanted to see and experience much more, and on a much deeper level. In some ways, 4 years and two months later, I feel I have accomplished this so-called goal, though there is still so much to see and do, people to meet, foods to try and adventures that await.
50 months on the road is a long time. Yes, I have been back "home," but only for short stints, much like a stopover in any country before heading back out again somewhere else. The first time I visited my family I stayed two nights. It was nearly one year to the day that I had set out on my little venture when I stopped in to Santa Rosa, California, en route to Peru to volunteer with Hands On Disaster Response (now called All Hands Volunteers). I needed to switch planes in the USA before heading to South America since I was coming from Indonesia, so a quick stop to say hello, do some laundry and get a few home cooked meals sounded like the perfect thing to do. I stopped a
couple more times to see my folks in Cali before and after going to Haiti to volunteer with the same organization, in the fall of 2008, the spring of 2009 (when I left Haiti) and last May, 2010.
I often get asked how I can continue on the road for so long without running out of money. As most or all of you are aware, I travel on a bare bones budget, and often in unconventional ways. I take local transport when possible and eat in the hawker stalls on the streets or the local markets (some of the country's best foods comes out of the little stalls -- the food is fresh, hot, delicious and cooked right there in front of me - oh and it's also much cheaper than the restaurants). I stay in local places, often in dorms where the beds can be as low as $3.00 a night. I once stayed in Laos for a buck a night, in a bungalow to myself overlooking the river, but alas, those days are over. The rooms nowadays cost at least $3 or $4.
I don't really budget every day, I just know what I should spend on certain things. In South East Asia, it's easy to live on $10 a day, much less on non-transport days. My meals are often a 50 cents to dollar, quite filling and nutritious. Yes I get cravings for western food, and yes, sometimes I splurge on a western meal. After all, I'm only human.
Occasionally I treat myself to a massage ($4-7/hr, depending on the country), occasionally I'll take a taxi (as long as I'm sharing with other people, keeping the cost low, and there is a good enough reason NOT to take the public bus or walk), occasionally I buy a yummy coffee drink or bakery goodness, occasionally I actually buy something for me (this last point is a rarity, and usually only if it's necessary).
I do want to say thank you to everyone out there, not just for reading and commenting on my email blasts and blogs, but also for housing me along the way, keeping my spirits up when I'm feeling low and always sending me positive thoughts and urging me to keep on keeping on. A few of you have allowed me to be able to get to the volunteer projects, sometimes half way around the globe from where I currently am traveling, by sending some money my way or helping me with flight tickets. I can't thank you enough for helping me out.
I don't really see when I will finish the RTW trip I am on. I have
rather adapted to this travel lifestyle, and besides the fact it
doesn't actually generate an income (I am still working on HOW to do this effectively...any and all suggestions would be appreciated and considered), I am enjoying myself immensely and wouldn't think about trading it for a 9 to 5 desk job. Anyone out there ever want to join me, just say the word!
I leave Vietnam in six days, after a month in this beautiful country. I head to Bangkok on my first flight since I landed in London early last July, stay only a few days to see some local friends and collect some more country patches for my rucksack (^_^) before heading by train to Kuala Lumpur (I feel as if I am cheating by not continuing overland to Malaysia), where I meet with some international friends for Xmas and to spend some quality time together. Hopefully lots of relaxing by the pool will come into play. I can certainly use a hammock, a fruity drink and some good friends about now.
Take care everyone, continue please to keep in touch and I'll do the best I can to update my blasts ASAP.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Season's Greetings and all the other ways to say stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season.
Love to all,
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