Sure, times have changed since Jules Verne wrote his famed Around The World In 80 Days–and yes, we now have airlines that let us zip across the Atlantic for a quick getaway, but even in the twenty first century, a whole revolution of our planet remains no easy feat. Although it is technically possible to make the trip in under two days (forty one hours and seven minutes to be exact!) with a commercial plane; you’d have to be crazy to want to miss out on everything going on below.
The truth is, no matter how fast our transportation goes, whether by air, land or sea, voyaging full circle around the blue planet will always be a distant, exotic dream for most people.
For me, the thought of completing a full rotation of the earth was a dream that had grabbed a hold of my mind and wedged itself in tight. It was the kind of dream that stews in the back of your head and ticks like a clock, counting down the seconds until it’s realized. It’s safe to say that I had nothing else on my mind when my parents told me they would take me on a world tour if I graduated high school a semester early. Fast forward to January 2015 and I’ve just walked out the doors to my high school for the very last time. Three days later I’m boarding a flight to Tokyo.
From start to finish the adventure took a grand total of 209 days, from early February to late August. I climbed mountains in both hemispheres, visited four continents (excluding my own) and traversed 29 countries–only six of which I had already seen. This brought my country count up to exactly 50, with Morocco being my last addition to the list as well as my first experience in Africa.
Along the way I’ve been lucky enough to meet many great people and share some amazing experiences. Whether it’s been partying in larger-than-life Shibuya in Tokyo, trekking through mountain towns on the France-Italy border, wandering deep into New Zealand’s glowing caves, or simply exchanging cultures, languages lessons and food on the world’s longest railroad, I’ve been lucky enough to pick up some helpful tactics for navigating the uncertainty of budget travelling.
To celebrate my life’s biggest adventure so far, I recently began reading my travel journal day by day, reliving my trip exactly one year later. Sometimes it’s hard to believe the contrasts that pop up between now and then. Vancouver in February is not a nice place, being bombarded by cold rain seemingly every time I look out my window; but flash back a year and I was playing victim to New Zealand’s sun, wishing for rain. Over the next year or so I will be regularly updating my blog with stories, highlights and advice I’ve gained from this adventure–as I finish reading them in my journal. Hopefully some of you find it useful 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions:
When talking to people about my experiences with travel, I’m often asked a lot of questions. Occasionally people want to hear my opinion about something surprisingly specific, but a certain set of topics always seems to pop up one way or another. So, due to popular demand, here are a few answers to some of my most frequently asked questions regarding this trip.
Q – How can you and your family afford this?
A – Before leaving from February to September, my parents gave up the house where I spent my childhood. We spent weeks boxing our belongings and stuffing them into a budget storage locker. We parked the car and truck at my grandmother’s house in North Vancouver and cancelled all our subscriptions and services. Having absolutely nothing to tie us down to British Columbia, we took off without any rent or bills to pay. By removing these at-home costs from the monthly bill, we ended up spending a grand total of ten thousand dollars more than if we had continued living our regular lives in Nanaimo. Divided into monthly instalments, $10,000 equates to paying about $450 dollars per person each month. When you take into account that for most of the time we travelled quite comfortably, this is a surprisingly small amount. In a lot of ways, it’s not a question of “can I afford to travel?” but rather “what can I afford to give up so I can travel?” which really matters.
To clarify: the trip cost a lot more than ten grand, but the total cost was only ten grand more than had we not gone anywhere. For some reason, this always needs clarification.
Q – Where is your favourite place you went?
A – This is a difficult question, and quite honestly, not a question I can answer. Some places stand out by having been exceptionally good experiences, while others were unnerving or worrying at the time, but now occupy some of my best memories.
Q – Where would you recommend going?
A – Alright, while I don’t wish to discriminate against any country, because I personally believe everyone should go everywhere, I can only recommend Eastern Europe with the highest degree of praise. I realize there are a lot of countries on the other side of the late Iron Curtain, but I really don’t care to place one nation as being better than another.
I’ll stand firmly on my belief that Europe’s Eastern block is more interesting than its western, tourist-drenched counterparts such as France or Italy. Whether you meander through the Baltic states, enjoy the surprising diversity of Poland and Slovakia, sift through relics of Ottoman occupation in the Balkans or witness the brutal repercussions of war in the former Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe is by far the most fascinating melange of culture I’ve seen through this trip.
Q – Anything you would have changed?
A – No, never. With the exception of catching a nasty flu from my mother in Siberia, of course.