Greetings from Seattle! I've spent the last two days poring over my travel notebooks so that I can finally answer the big questions that everyone likes to ask. For instance, people always ask if I have a favorite place but in truth, I can't pinpoint any place that deserves the title of "my favorite place in the whole world." Can you? I think about the places that took my breathe away... the places where I felt happy and just incredibly lucky to be alive:
- Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
- Zanzibar, Tanzania
- Whitsunday Islands, Australia
- Sipadan, Malaysia
- With Family (Indonesia, Netherlands)
I've really come to value places less for how objectively beautiful they are and more for the feelings they evoke.... At least for the first four I listed, go there! They are worth it!
Of course not all moments were good.... I had my fair share of complaints, most of which I shared with you all. In no particular order, these are the top five worst things to happen to me:
- Losing consciousness near Bowen, Australia*
- Bed bugs from a hostel in Chile
- Getting grabbed in Zimbabwe
- Being lost in Salvador (Brazil) during Carnaval
- Eating sushi in Nairobi (and the 13 subsequent trips to the bathroom that night)
*I didn't actually tell my mom about this one.... I was on an overnight bus from Cairns to Bowen and when I got up to use the bathroom, I fainted. I think it was because of dehydration, but I suddenly felt nauseous and then just collapsed on top of the person sitting next to me. I woke up to concerned voices and later, as I was recovering in the bathroom, I could hear the guy talking about me saying, "Yeah, she was heavy too!"
Am I a better person for having traveled the world? Definitely. For one thing, my sister says I'm very self-entertaining now. However, I admit that I am more picky and opinionated than I ever was. I think I made a lot of concessions while traveling and I'm not in the mood to do that anymore. I don't want to eat food I don't like and I don't want to be around people I don't care about! That said, I love being home and I don't have any immediate desires to leave. For the first time in years, I don't have my next trip abroad planned - it's a bit unsettling!
Should you travel the world for 18 months? Maybe. Particularly when you are on a budget and alone, traveling the world is a lot of work. Everything has to be planned and organized and it's not so much a vacation as a different type of job. Your job is keeping yourself safe, fed, and entertained and it's exhausting in its own way. I loved having the freedom to explore places for as long as I liked, but I was sad that I got so jaded and essentially stopped caring about new places. I feel incredibly lucky though to have had this experience, to have had the chance to "live the dream." I would never discourage anyone from having an adventure like mine and if you're thinking about doing it, I say go for it!
So how much did it all cost? I had been telling people that I spent roughly $25,000-$30,000 but I was a bit off. I calculated that the number is actually closer to $40,000. (I came up with $38,826.25 but this does not include the incredible generosity of family and friends with, for example, trips throughout Indonesia, trips to Singapore, a cruise vacation, delicious meals, comfortable beds to sleep in, and good company.) Thank you so much to everyone who donated to the cause, met me on my travels, shared a beer with me, and made this an incredible 18 months abroad! I also got a lot of my flights free with United miles and didn't really have to pay for my flights from LAX-Buenos Aires, Dubai-LAX, LAX-Singapore, Singapore-Japan, Japan-Korea, and Amsterdam-LAX. Thanks, United!
Gifts (for myself and others): 2.45%
Miscellaneous (Supplies, Necessities): 6.75%
Tours/Activities (including Antarctica and Africa): 36.57%
Visa/Entry-Exit Fees: 2.73%
SIM Cards/Phone Cards/Internet: 0.59%
I'm a bit stunned by how much I ended up spending, but I wouldn't change a thing! I could have put the money towards a down payment on a house or bought myself a brand new Audi A5 or something but there aren't any cities I'd like to put roots down in yet and I love my 1994 Honda Accord. I essentially spent the equivalent of an entire Berkeley undergraduate education but probably learned just as much, if not more, while traveling than I did at Cal :)
A few random statistics in case anyone is interested:
Takeoffs/Landings (Flights): 63
Books Read: 40+
Scuba Dives: 35
Drinks (Beer/Wine/Cocktails) Consumed: 530+
New Friends: 90+
Hostel Stays: 80+
Anything else you'd like to know? Ask!
What now? I have been actively job hunting. I've had many rejections, several interviews, and an offer or two, but I'm waiting for the right job to come around. Time is ticking, however, with my current net worth in the three figures range :) Life is definitely good though, with Theo and I almost fully settled into our apartment in Seattle.
I've really loved blogging and being in touch with people I wouldn't ordinarily hear from, so even though I wont be sending updates anymore, I hope you all keep in touch. Thank you so much for reading and for following me on my journey around the world!