Sponsors? I wish I had sponsors. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Okay, I’ve been gone almost nine months now and it’s time for a barometer check. Many have been asking questions and I guess it’s high time I had some answers.
1. What have your favorite places been so far?
Thank god the question is plural because there have been so many and each is unique in its own special way. I find it hard to narrow down, but here goes:
- The Galapagos Islands off Ecuador—beautiful and magical, unspoiled nature and animals
- Buenos Aires, Argentina—an amazingly affordable cosmopolitan city full of a sexy energy and a hip vibe
- Melbourne, Australia—reminded me a lot of Chicago—cool, down to earth neighborhoods, diverse food, city events for everyone, and bike lanes on nearly every street
- Hong Kong—a huge, bright city full of life where old and new collide
- Halong Bay and Sa Pa, Vietnam—mystical, peaceful bays and mountains from another era
- Singapore—a modern, obsessively clean (of course I’d like that!), crossroads of cultures
- Turkey—beautiful landscapes and amazingly friendly and helpful people
2. How much longer will you travel?
Forever! Well, I wish I could… and I’m still working out the nasty little logistics of how I can truly make that possible. But in the meantime, while I don’t have a definite answer, I am hoping to extend this trip to become longer than first planned. Originally, I told people I’d be traveling for one year, mostly because it was just a very nice round number and easier to estimate then saying, “oh, 15 months” or something random like that. But now that I am ‘out here’ in the world, it just seems so much easier to keep going than to come home and try to get away again. Why not just keep going now that all my stuff is packed away in storage anyway? We’ll see.
3. Are you homesick? Are you ready to come home?
No. And no. Seriously, there are times when I am down or low—it’s nearly impossible to be jazzed every minute of everyday. I have some sad or lonely moments, but I do have to say they don’t last long. I really find it quite easy to make friends when traveling alone… just look at this photo album of some of the amazing folks I’ve met.
I definitely feel much less stress than I felt at home with a job and a million things to always ‘worry’ about and obsess over. Now I know, in the grand scheme of things, none of that really matters.
4. What do you miss?
I miss some of my good friends and family. But at the same time, these friends have been with me throughout the entire trip thanks to the internet and its amazing technology and websites and services like Skype, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Flickr, Feedburner, and my blog’s home at Word Press. Through my laptop, my friends are still cheering me on, encouraging me, giving me blog feedback, and just still ‘being there’ like they would if I was home and in some ways even more so. And that’s how I know they are good. You know who you are—I love you and thank you!
I miss the city of Chicago. No matter where I go, I am still lucky to call it home and I truly do love it. It’s my adopted home and I have been singing its praises all over the world, encouraging everyone I meet to visit it one day. I think the Chicago Tourism office needs to hire me as an ambassador.
With a very limited number of outfits, I love the idea that I don’t have to really worry about what to wear each day, but I certainly miss having some more clothes to choose from than just the same old threadbare t-shirts, stretched out tank tops, and fading cargo pants.
As the months tick by, I guess you could say I miss having an income, because I’m scared of facing the fact that my funds are dwindling. Now see #5:
5. How much money have you spent?
In eight months, I have figured out that I have spent roughly $25,000. This includes everything—airfare, other transportation, food, lodging, and all my other random expenses. I have been in some countries in Southeast Asia and South America that allowed me to stretch my budget and then, on the flip side, places like Australia, Dubai, and now, as I enter Europe, have been rather expensive and make it harder to cut corners, etc. But, then again I got a job in Australia and am now doing some English tutoring in Istanbul so I am trying to combat the higher prices by at least breaking even. If I had remained in Chicago, where the overall cost of living is high, I would have definitely spent more than $25,000 in eight months on my mortgage, condo upkeep, car, bills, food, entertainment, and general runs to Target, which always add up. On the road, I realize I don’t have to buy things like toilet paper, but do have to eat out more than I would at home. Although, in many hostels and some hotels where I had a fridge I was able to eat some meals at ‘home.’
6. What will you do when you get home?
That’s the toughest question of all. And as the months tick by, unfortunately I find myself worrying about it more and more. I have gotten tons of great feedback on this blog and have started the dreaded process of looking for a literary agent and publisher for my travel book. I still have tons of interests… it’s narrowing them down that is the problem. Television Production? Open a sandwich shop/café? Real Estate? “Green” eco-store? Travel Writer? Get Masters in Urban Planning or International Business? Photographer? Or maybe I will just stay ‘retired’?? Who knows what will happen with any of that. I can always do some freelance TV Production and writing. What I do know is that after stopping by Chicago to visit with friends and try the latest restaurants, I will be going to LA to hang out at my friend, Mark’s apartment. I will lay at his pool where I can decompress and readjust to life, USA-style. I guess LA couldn’t be more ‘in your face’ USA… and with my new work experience from my days at the Australia café, I may just be qualified to work at ‘the big S’—Starbucks. Maybe.
7. Have you dated any men?