Sounding Off

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thanks again to Phonella, I now have the ability to paste a little MP3 player into a post so I can embed sound files into the blog.

Oh look - here's one now, a short Lonely Planet podcast:

My Maps

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Here's a Google Map I've created to show where I plan to go. To get back to this post easily you can click on "Maps" in the menu bar. Eventually there will also be map of where I've actually been, which will probably a lot different than the plan. I may even add other close-up maps of my travels around a particular area, so you may want to check back here every once in a while.

You can also see this map in the side bar, but here it's much bigger. You can pan around on either map, change the view, and zoom in and out. Click any of the little blue markers or lines to read its label. You can also click on "View larger map" at the bottom of this one and be taken to the Google page where you can muck around even more.

View Larger Map

June 5, 2009:

Ok, rather that editing the original blue line from a hundred years ago, I've started a new RED line that shows what I've actually done! I thought it might be fun to see what really happens, compared to what I
thought would happen. Also, I really didn't have the inclination or energy to muck around with that original line... Let's just say that these days, I've got bigger fish to fry.

A few of my favourite things...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Here are some great links that I've used in planning this trip, or that I just like to drop in on occasionally. This page is a work in progress, so if you run across dead links or odd, half-completed sentences, that's why. If you discovered this post by perusing the archives, you can return here easily by clicking on "Links" in the menu bar right under the beautiful Go See Run Eat Drink image at the top of the page. If you discovered this post by clicking on "Links", well done.

General Travel Information:
- a great wiki-style resource for tons of info on traveling to different places. It includes lots of real-world practical info on things like how to buy a train ticket in China, or the best way to exchange currency in Zimbabwe. I should spend more time here than I do.

Travel Discussion Board/Forum/Things:
Lonely Planet Thorn Tree - I think most people consider this the go-to place for travel discussion.
Boots 'n' All Travel Network - But I like this one too. They've got a whole area devoted just to Around-the-World travel (or RTW, as the cool kids call it).
Rick Steves Travel Forums - Mostly concentrating on European destinations, but it's got some good info on traveling light.

Kayak - This has become my go-to site for getting a quick idea of what a flight from anywhere to anywhere might cost. Very handy, and it often turns up unexpectedly cheap results.
European Low Cost Airlines - a handy amalgamation of information about all the discount air carriers in Europe, including a map of who flies from where.
One World Itinerary Planner - Though I've elected not the travel with a RTW ('Round the World) ticket, they can be a great bargain. One World's offering is priced according to the number of continents you visit, and their trip planner is a fun way to while away a week of your life.
Star Alliance Mileage Calculator - The other offering in the RTW ticket game, Star Alliance bases their prices on total mileage. They also have an online planner, but it's not as fun as the One World one.

Practical Travel Gear - Reviews of gear, clothing and other gadgets related to travel
Rick Steves Travel Store - This seems like a good spot for cheap-ish odds and ends. I suspect I'll be spending some money at Rick's place before this is all over.
Tom Bihn Designs - High end messenger bags, backpacks, laptop sleeves and accessories, and manufacturer of the Aeronaut, my pick for a Bag To Take Around the World.
Redoxx - Shockingly expensive but super-tough looking soft-sided luggage of all shapes and sizes.
Mountain Equipment Co-Op - A Canadian company (yay!), where I spent many hours and more dollars getting geared up.
Tilley Endurables - Another Canadian Company, and makers of the famous Tilley Hat. I like them for their other clothing, though many of the styles seem to be geared towards... older consumers. They also have excellent tavel socks.

Packing and Traveling Light:
One Bag - Doug Dyment, the Grand Poobah of the Cult of Packing Light
One Bag, One World - A great blog with gear reviews, travel news etc...

Package Tours:
GAP Adventures - Camel treks, felucca cruising, donkey rides, the Inca Trail, the Trans-Siberian Railway - these kinds of companies package stuff together into everything from 3 day to 60 day tours and publish irresistible glossy brochures that make me swoon with excitement.
Imaginative Traveler - Almost indistinguishable from GAP... I have no idea how to decide between the two, other than by which particular detials of destination or schedule fit your plan. I hope to visit Jordan and Egypt with ImTrav (that's what the cool kids call it).
Intrepid Travel - This one seems much the same as the two above, but perhaps a bit newer and a bit edgier. Perhaps best in Asia, I'm going to Moscow and St. Petersburg with Intrepid.
Tucan Travel - This one seems to concentrate mostly on South America, and on overland travel is specially kitted-out buses.
Dragoman - They specialize in overland travel, in more of those specially kitted-out buses, but Dragoman tends to be pretty bare bones - mostly camping, with participants expected to share cooking and cleaning chores. I'm going to Africa with Dragoman!

Accomodations:Servas - Couch-surfing for grown-ups. See my post about this for a lot more details.
Hostelworld - A great place to search out hostel-style digs all over the world. They have reviews from what seem like real people, and lots information about price. I used this site a lot to help me budget for accommodations in all different parts of the world.
Hostelbookers - Another online boking site, though this one charges no fees!
Monastery Stays - This seems like an interesting idea.

Favourite Travel Blogs:

Thirteen Months - I love this site - a honeymoon couple who take a year off to travel. It's beautifully designed, has tons of photographs and great information, an excellent FAQ section, and even details everything they packed. Nice job!
Around The World - One young American guy traveling mostly in Southeast Asia. There's nothing that really stands out about how this blog looks or acts, but I really like the guy's writing, and his general level of enthusiasm. His journey was completed in August/08.
One Year on Earth - Another honeymoon couple, another good site, a lot more good information.
One Giant Step ... Is All It Takes - A site I just discovered of a couple who seem to be my doppelgangers - two 40-ish people from B.C. who are selling their house, and hitting the road at the same time I am. I'm looking forward to seeing the choices they make as they get ready to take off.
The Art of Nonconformity - This blog is about more than just travel but the author, Chris Gillebeau, has a goal to visit every country in the world before he turns 35. As a result, he's got a lot of really good information to offer about traveling cheap and smart. He's a master of maximizing the RTW ('Round the World) ticket, and a mega-collector of frequent flyer miles. He's got a couple of ebook poducts related to travel too, and they're quite good. And he's got a post on why you should quit your job and travel around the world.
Nomadic Sabbatical - (Added October 2012!)  I periodically get requests from people to "trade links" and ignore most of them, usually because the requests are obviously automated spam-bot crap.  But Pete seems to be a real person, and I've had a look through his blog, which is really nicely designed and seems to say all the right things, and have lovely photographs.  So thanks for the email Pete!

Habitat for Humanity - a "faith-based" international organization that build homes for people all over the world, with the help of volunteer labour. I wrote about them here.
Global Vision International - a non-religious, non-political organization that "promotes sustainable development worldwide through responsible volunteering programs." TO faithful GSRED readers, these are the dolphin people.
Projects Abroad - Another "volunteer abroad" organization that I'm considering.
WWOOF - World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (formerly known as: Willing Workers on Organic Farms). An network that allows "willing workers" to connect with organic farmers; in return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.

Citizens Bank - A Canadian web-based bank founded and run out of British Columbia. Their Global Chequing account is the one I've chosen as my traveling bank account because they charge no fees for international transactions. Scratch this.  They stopped offering that excellent Global chequing account while I was on the road which was inconvenient and impolite, to say the least.  Boo! - A really handy currency conversion site.
Project Visa - A handy site that tells you which countries require visas for citizens of which countries.

Edited: Oct. 18/12

Farting around

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Here's a post from One Bag, One World, one of my favourite "traveling light" websites. I've quoted it here in its entirety, because it struck a chord with me, and I've bolded the bit that really hit home.

From Tim Ferriss’s interview with super traveler Rolf Potts, author of the new book Marco Polo Didn’t Go There:

“Be a minimalist. Reduce clutter. Obviously travel by its very nature is going to do this, since you can’t pack everything you’d keep in your home office. But this should apply to your travel office as well. For example, get a cheap laptop, and use it only for your work. Save your important information into Google documents (or something similar) in case the laptop gets lost or stolen or your pack falls in a river. Don’t use the laptop to surf news online; go to the local newsstand instead.

Don’t use the laptop to watch DVDs or listen to music; go to a local cinema or nightclub instead.This is not just a matter of travel aesthetics or cultural appreciation — it’s a matter of breaking bad habits. Back home we use our work technology to fart around and pass the day. Nobody should travel around the world just to sit in front of a laptop and fart around.

This doesn't mean I've decided NOT to take technology with me - it's just a reminder not to let the technology rule me. Having said that though, a year is a long time to be on the road. I'm expecting that there will be times when I'll need a vacation from traveling. When that feeling hits I plan to hole up in the nicest hotel I can afford and spend a day or two surfing the web, watching tv, and lounging around NOT seeing the sights. You know, just farting around.

Gadget Lust

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ok, Apple announced new iPods last week, including a new iPod Touch, now with dedicated volume control buttons AND A SPEAKER. This basically makes it my dream music player - lots of storage, proper audiobook stopping/starting, built-in speaker, easier volume control than the last version, integration with iTunes and its lovely podcast-catching abilities, Wifi email, beautiful web-browsing, the iTunes App store... all it really lacks is GPS naviagtion.

Of course the big downside is that if I were to take a device like this with me on the trip I might as well tattoo "Rich and Naive Western Tourist Here Please Steal My Stuff" on my forehead.

Also, I'd want a device like this to act as an alarm clock while I'm staying in hostels and stuff. So my fancy, expensive, tiny, desirable and easy-to-pocket device would be sitting there out in the open while I'm unconscious. How would that work? Not very well, I bet. At least not for long.

I've got a little list...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lately I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things I need to accomplish before setting out on this trip so I decided to go over the list and make a rough plan of when to try and get different things done. For instance there are a lot of small-ish renovation things I want to do on the house so I can squeeze every penny out of it when I sell, and there are a limited number of weekends when I can reasonably expect to be able to do this kind of work. Now I've got a timetable (not suprisingly, in spreadsheet form!). This is actually helping a lot, since instead of looking at the list and being paralyzed because I can't figure out where to start, I just need to look at the things I've scheduled for September, and then I can dive right in.

So far this month I've scraped the peeling bits and painted one whole side of the house, scraped and repainted the trim on front window, scrubbed the front steps, purged a lot of junk from the basement to the back drive (for easier removal to the dump), and installed two new florescent fixtures in the laundry area. This weekend I'll tackle building a big set of heavy-duty storage shelves in the basement. Apparently, buyers looooooooove storage.

Next up, in October: the Bathroom.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Here's my current best idea of where I plan to go, and when. Sometime I'll post about my reasoning behind where I've chosen to go and where I've decided to skip. And I'll try to update this as things become firmer.

Fly in to London, England from Calgary - June 15, 2009 (2 weeks in England)
Train to Edinburgh, Scotland (2 weeks)
Train/Ferry or cheap local flight to Dublin, Ireland (2 weeks)
Fly to Copenhagen, Denmark (it's about the beginning of August by now) (5 days)
Fly to Riga, Latvia (3 days)
Fly to St. Petersburg, Russia (1 week)
(This hop to Russia is out-of-the-way, but I want to get there in the summer - St. Petersburg in November would be grim...)
Fly to Amsterdam, Netherlands (3 days)
Train to Belgium (1 day, just passin' through)
Train to Paris, France (10 days in France)
Train to Barcelona, Spain (September) (1 week in Spain)
Train to Lisbon, Portugal (1 week)
Train/Ferry to Morocco (1 week)
Fly to Rome, Italy (October - 3 weeks)
Train to Ljublujana, Slovenia (1 week)
Train to Vienna, Austria (4 days)
Train to Prague, Czech Republic (4 days)
Fly to Athens (2 weeks, with Athens Marathon on November 9th)
Fly or Train or Ferry or ?? To Istanbul, Turkey (2 weeks)
Fly or other to Jerusalem (December) (3 days) Though I may skip Israel - I'd love to see the city but it makes me nervous.
Fly or other to Amman, Jordan for an Adventure Travel tour something like this one: Jordan & Egypt Adventure (2 weeks)
Fly from Cairo (end point of tour) to Kampala, Uganda (for Christmas?) (1 week) I'd also like to do some kind of safari tour thing, maybe like this one: Kenya Highlights (1-2 weeks)
Fly to Capetown, SA (January) (1 week)
Fly to Mumbai, India (24 days)
Fly out of somewhere else in India (Calcutta?) to Beijing, China. (February) I may want to do an organized tour of China too, like this one: The Road to Shanghai (24 days)
Fly or other to Vietnam (March) (1 week)
Overland to Laos (1 week)
Overland to Cambodia (1 week)
Overland to Thailand (April) (1 week)
Overland to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (3 days)
Overland to Singapore (3 days)
Fly to Tokyo, Japan (2 weeks in Japan)
Fly to San Francisco (beginning of May, hopefully staying with friends, for a rest - 5 days)
Fly to South America - probably Quito, Ecuador. I'll probably do an organized tour here, too. Something including the Inca Trail hike: Inca Adventure
General South America destinations: Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina (or Chile). I've allotted 2 months for all of South America.

Home by about July 1, 2010.