Archive | May, 2010
May 28, 2010

Travel Trepidation: The Dog Ate My Passport

This is the second post of a two part series on overcoming self-imposed obstacles to independent travel.  Catch up on the first post of the series– Banking the Benjamins.

This post is a catchall for the biggest hurdle to reaching your goal– you.  Be forewarned, this may get preachy, but I am an ordained minister after all.

Assume you are someone who wants to travel.  Not just a week in Bermuda, mind you.  We are talking about extensive, hostel-hopping, shower-skipping, life-altering travel.

What keeps you from hitting the road?  The dreaded excuses.

  • “I don’t have enough savings.”
  • “I’m scared of the unfamiliar.”
  • “I’ll miss my dog/cat/plant.”
  • “I’m afraid to leave my job.”
  • “It’s bad timing.”
  • “It just doesn’t feel right.”

The list is endless.

Excuses allow us to absolve ourselves of action. It’s easier to make excuses than push past our comfort zones, face our fears, and commit to a goal.  Instead, we rationalize because change is just too damn hard.  It’s safer to stick to the status quo and live life by consensus.

Think about the times you did whatever it took, even when it was tough, tedious, or painful because you really wanted something.  It was no longer ‘can’ or ‘cannot’– it was ‘will’ or ‘will not’.  Will you make the necessary scarifies?  Will you jump in with both feet?

The truth is, the time is never right, and the only ‘right’ is right now.  There are always excuses not to do something.  Move forward.  Act now.  Otherwise, you sow the seeds of regret.  The years will pass by, and you’ll always ask yourself “what if”.

The trick is to keep yourself motivated.  A few tips:

Tell Everyone

We decided to go for it in January 2009.   The first thing we did?  We told everyone.

Well, almost everyone.  You will want to shield your travel plans from your employer until the time is right.  However, do tell all your friends and family.  Most people will be very excited for you, and their energy will keep you motivated during the pre-trip months.

More importantly, the more people you tell, the harder it is to back out.

What will you say to Uncle Frank?  “Yeah…so I’ve decided not to do that travel thing because…I have to feed my goldfish.”  Lame.

On the flip side, you are going to face some downers.  Don’t let them discourage you.  Some friends or family members may not understand your long-term travel goals (this is okay– It’s not for everybody).  Remember, the bums will always lose, Lebowski.

Plan Your Itinerary

We believe in flexibility, but you still need to have a general idea where you want to go!  We had a lot of fun planning our route, and our excitement kept us motivated to save money.

Pull out a globe and jot down all the countries you want to see.  Now figure out a route that works for your budget and time constraints.  (This process is a post unto itself, so I’ll revisit this topic another time.)

Always wanted to go gorilla trekking?  Add Uganda to the list.  Feel like running with the bulls?  Make it to Pamplona in July.  Just think of all the wonderful foods and amazing sights you’ll see.  That beats feeding your fish, right?  Hell yeah.

Stop making excuses.  Stay motivated.  The possibilities are endless, and you’ll thank yourself for finally taking the adventure of a lifetime.

May 24, 2010

Women be Packin’


When I started thinking about packing for this trip I realized I was going to have to make a few hard decisions.  I wouldn’t call myself an extreme “girly” girl.  I camp, ski, bike, etc.  But, I also have my Charlotte York moments.

When traveling for a short weekend, or even a couple of weeks, you don’t have to pack light.  On this trip, however, we’re keeping our bags under 30 pounds each.  In this post I’ll share some of my thoughts on low-maintenance, light packing for women.  I tried to strike a balance between quitting modern convenience cold-turkey and minimizing enough so that I’m not lugging around unnecessary products.


When Clark and I began discussing our itinerary, we also thought about our packing list.  We decided on the places that were important to us as well as what time of the year we’d like to be there.  We were able to work out an itinerary in which we will mostly be in warmer climates.  This made our clothing choices much easier.

Perhaps the hardest part of packing is that I like clothes and shoes a little too much.  I wanted items that were stylish, but also durable, hand-washable, quick-drying, and wrinkle resistant.  This means no cotton.  All of our clothing is cotton-free, usually a polyester/nylon blend, including underwear and bras.  This fabric stays wrinkle-free and dries quickly.  Some of my shirts are moisture wicking, specialty styles, but some are just your every day department-store finds.

It is a really good idea to bring items that you can mix and match.  I suggest solid colors in shades that are complimentary.  I have one pair of jeans, one pair of khaki pants, a khaki green skort, and two dresses.  All of my tops match with these bottoms.  I can just grab the first two things in my bag and look good! (more…)

May 18, 2010

Meet Bob

aka “The cubicle formerly known as Clark’s”

This is the end beginning of the road.  I’m going into my last week of gainful employment.

It was a good run.  I was with the company for five years.  With a little luck, maybe they will even take me back someday.  It’s clearly better to take a leave of absence, but isn’t that asking a bit much?  “Hey, I’m going to go have fun for a year while you guys pick up my slack.  Mind holding my spot?  You’re cool with doing all of my work, right?  I’ll bring you back a T-shirt or something. “

Sure.  See how that goes over.

Kim could have just told her students to work quietly in small groups for the next 200 periods.

It will be strange to let go of the ol’ routine.  As we have sold our belongings and wrapped up work, life has remained basically the same as usual.  Crawl out of bed, go to our jobs, come home, have some dinner, watch LOST, discuss our smoke monster theories, second guess our gear, read about Asian elephants or something, and go to sleep later than we should.  Repeat.

I imagine the new routine will go something like this:

Wake up.  Untangle Kim from her mosquito net.  Mess around with the blog on a painfully slow connection.  Put on pants (at some point).  Walk down to the market for some fruit.  See a temple or two.  Horribly botch the local language in a futile attempt to “blend in”.  Find a place to live for the next few days.  Wash some clothes if absolutely necessary.  Drink a beer.  Haggle with a cab driver over 75 cents.  Repeat?

I especially like the beer part.  Let’s repeat that step several times.

Moving on is a good thing though, and it will be a very memorable year.  But first, we have to sell our shit.

Need a slightly used mattress?  How about two cases of expired toothpaste?

May 9, 2010

One Last Time

Croquet in Grant Park

Jump for ice cream!As the big day draws nearer (only 27 days now!) we find ourselves scrambling to cram in an excess of “one last time” events.  Most of these outings revolve around food and/or friends.  We have so many Chicago favorites that we’ve found it hard to get them all in.  Many are once-in-a-while activities, but some are every day errands.  So far, we’ve enjoyed our last Rainbow Cone, Superdawg, chicken and waffles, gyro, White Sox game, Cubs game, choir concert, “America Sings!” field trip, Critical Mass, L.A.T.E. Ride, games of Catan and Carcassonne, haircut, dentist appointment, and eye exam.  I think it is harder to grasp the coming absence of the last few every day things while we travel.  Walking 2 blocks to a grocery store we’ve been to a hundred times or hopping on the train to get a quick custard at Scooter’s will seem like a distant memory when we’re on the road.

I’m not sure how we’ll handle the lCroquet in Grant Parkack of routine.  On one hand, I think it will be exhilarating, always to go somewhere new and try something different.  However, I can see ourselves growing very weary of the lack of familiarity.  It may be exhausting.  I expect that we will get used to the turmoil after a few months on the road and our new routine will be no routine.

In the mean time….I think we still have a few days left to play croquet in Grant Park, see a movie at the Navy Pier iMax, have a BBQ in Jane’s backyard, throw a rooftop hot tub party, go to Kyle’s graduation party, watch the Lost finale, eat at Hot Doug’s, Toro Sushi, Little Bucharest, Lou Malnati’s, and grab a few drinks at Villain’s. WHEW!

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