So you want to travel the world, right? You want to see travel this earth from end to end, with the truest intention to eat, explore, and discover everything there is to offer, with nothing getting in your way. Looking at a map seems to be the gateway to your dreams, and the butterflies you get in your stomach when you hear about exotic places makes your heart beat faster and has your thoughts running wild. Rome, Venice, Istanbul, Melbourne, St. Petersburg, Munich, Barcelona, Brazil…it’s all waiting for you. Now, how to get there is the question. Look no further, because the person I am featuring for my “Through New Eyes” project is a good friend of mine who did everything I just mentioned, and then some.
Meet Bryan, the world-wide traveler who spent five months flying around the globe, with only a backpack and some plane tickets. As a true believer in the six degrees of separation, the idea that everyone is connected to each other in some way or another, meeting Bryan just reaffirmed my belief. I met Bryan while in Munich last summer on a free walking tour of the city. After talking for a little while, Bryan and I both realized that we not only came from Cleveland, but both graduated from Ohio State. Crazy, right? So, naturally, Bryan, my boyfriend, our new Australian friend, and myself, all went out that night to experience Munich’s infamous club scene, which consisted of plenty of techno music, wild lights, and many, many pictures. After hanging out with Bryan in Munich, we saw him again in Venice, and then again in Rome. After Rome, we left Europe to fly back home to the States, while Bryan continued his crazy adventures. Here is his story, in his own words.
What company did you use to plan your around the world trip?
All the planning in the actual destinations I did on my own, the company I used to book my flights is called Airtreks http://www.airtreks.com they specialize in booking packages like the one I did and they are much flexible in planning flights than booking using airline alliances as they allow you to book with multiple airline partners. You have a personal representative who can assist you with your booking, and they provide free travel insurance (a must have) when you book your trip.
How did you go about deciding which countries to visit? Did the company have a list of countries to choose from?
The choice of destinations was made by me, it was mainly just places I had always wanted to see as well as some suggestions made by others. Airtreks gave me great flexibility on which coutries I wanted to go to since they didn’t have any restrictions on where I could or could not go, they also helped me in choosing the order of destinations by telling me if it was cheaper flying out of one place than another.
How did you hear about these world excursions?
I had originally come up with the desire to do this on my own, and through research I found how common it was to do a trip like this. Some great sites I had for inspiration were http://www.nomadicmatt.com and http://www.bootsnall.com . Nomadic Matt is a guy from Boston who has been traveling around the world for about 4 year’s now and he provides a lot of great travel and planning tips. Bootsnall is a great traveler’s community site where you can talk to other traveler’s on their forums and get advice on your trip.
How many countries/cities did you visit on your trip? Where was your starting point and where was your ending point?
I visited a total of 20 different countries. I started in London and my last stop was Hawaii. A quick overview of countries: England, Ireland, France, Monaco, Belguim, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, US.
How did you prepare for a trip like this? How did you figure out what to pack?
Preparing for this trip was honestly the most difficult part, imagine all your possesions, and now imagine that you could only have access for the next 5 months to those things that you could fit into a 40 pound backpack. It really lends some perspective to what things you really need in your everyday life. The good thing is there are a lot of sites out there, including the ones I already gave that provide some general packing lists. Another good thing is I never stayed in a hostel that didn’t have some sort of access to laundry services so that made it a heck of a lot easier to pack things knowing that I could do laundry on a semi regular basis. I also lucked out that I didn’t go anywhere that was very cold for a long time so I mostly needed to pack summer clothing. In terms of preparation for the next city I would visit, my ultimate resource waswww.wikitravel.com which is essentially a wikipedia but for travelers, it provides tons of great information of destinations all around the world, anything from how to get around using public transportation, to places to eat, to local customs you need to know about, I could not have done my trip as successfully without it.
How long were you gone for?
I was gone for about 5 months.
Is there anything you would’ve changed about your trip? Is there any place you wish you would’ve gone to?
A couple of things I would’ve changed were 1. I would’ve allowed myself a little more flexibilty in terms of being able to stay in a place I liked longer or make it easier to travel with new friends. 2. Not packing as much as I did. As far as places I wish I went the 2 places I regret not going to the most were Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Croatia specifcially) and Southeast Asia (Thailand and Cambodia). These are 2 destinations that as Americans when we hear about them we tend to think they are a bit sketchy, but after hearing dozens of stories from fellow travelers on how great they are, they are now 2 places I plan to go visit someday for sure.
Since you did this trip on your own, was it fairly easy to make friends?
It was really easy to make new friends, although at first it took me some time to break out of my shell. I’m normally pretty shy when it comes to meeting people, but doing this trip really forced me to change that, otherwise I would’ve been alone and not enjoyed the trip nearly as much. I also met a lot of people doing similar solo travels so they too were looking to meet new people which made it even easier to make new friends.
How did you find hostels? Did the travel company you used help you find these hostels?
One thing I was really surprised about was how much I enjoyed staying in hostels. I think the perception of hostels that most Americans have are from that God awful Hostel movie. The way I like to describe staying in hostels is to imagine you are back in Freshman year of college in a dorm room. Most hostel dorms range from 4-10 beds in a room, the more you pay the less people are in the room. Prices range from as cheap as $10 a night to $30 (which is great since you can use the money you save to get a nice dinner or do an activity that you might not otherwise have done), they are very clean for the most part, they are centrally located, and many came with better free amenties than most nice hotels. For instance I never stayed in a single hostel in Europe or Asia that didn’t have free wifi, and about 90% of hostels I stayed in had free breakfast each morning. Hostels are also great for solo travelers as it is much much easier to meet people in one than it is if you were staying in a hotel. As long as you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of privacy, hostels are an incredible value and a very fun and interesting experience. All of my hostel bookings were done through hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com. These sites are invaluable as you get user reviews that give you an idea of what you are getting into before you go.
What was the craziest memory you have from your trip?
I don’t have one particular craziest memory, I can name off a few though, skydiving in New Zealand, bungy jumping in New Zealand, swimming with sharks in Australia, Eating Gyros and watching the Sun come up after partying all night in Greece, sleeping on the beach in Fiji.
Florence was probably my favorite city, it has such an incredible mix of old and new, and the people there were incredibly nice.
Coolest/most unique thing you ate while on your trip?
The best thing I ate on my trip was a nine course Kobe beef dinner in Tokyo. The most unique thing I ate was a tie between a duck brain and a scorpion on a stick in Beijing.
How much should someone budget for a trip like this?
A budget for a trip like this really depends on what you want to do an where you want to go. It’s possible to live on $50 a day if you stay in hostels, make your own meals, and limit the activities you do and drinking. Personally I budgeted for myself between $75-$100 a day, which afforded me the ability to do activities I wanted to do, as well as to have good moderatley priced meals when I wanted to. If I knew I was going to do something that would be expensive in the next week or so I would cut back on my budget the days prior to save up the money.
Any advice you would give for someone looking to do a similar trip?
My best advice for planning is to give yourself enough flexibility with your planning that if something unexpected comes up you can change up your plan’s and do it. Also do your research, there are tons and tons of resources online that can be invaluable to your planning on what to take and how to get around easily. My last tip is when you are on your trip is to take advantage of every opportunity that is presented you, you may never have the chance to do what you are doing again, so don’t have any regrets that you didn’t do something you wanted to do.
Also, check out Bryan’s blog that he kept while abroad!