The Travel Newbie Round the World Mailbag

     Only a few questions this time as I give a long-winded answer and I am hearing faint grumbling that my posts are too long. (Look, you want quantity or quality?! Oh, wait, wrong argument.) As always, feel free to write me about anything you like. I have some questions for you, too, at the end.
     One question stems from my getting serious about making videos. The tentative title of my first tour de force will be, “How to Fly Around the World for Under $2000,” with a globe as my co-star. I can do it on my little Canon PowerShot now, but the quality is poor. It would look like a hostage video. Can you recommend a camera? I might also need a recommendation for a real, live, breathing web designer as I need a new WordPress theme; mine is outdated and no longer supported.

     It’s great to be back home in good ol’ California!

From Steffie in France:
     Hello dear Dromomaniac! I know you’ve already done a lot on your blog for travellers and a big up to you for that! I’d like to know about your wise advice about a first round world tour for a woman of 43 yrs old! My plan is to take a gap year from March 2013 to March 2014 before I’m getting too old and travel the world and visit some Couchsurfing good friends! It’s been too many years now thinking hard about it without really starting but now I feel confident enough to do it.
     I’ve already travelled a bit but I’m still not familiar with the preparation list such as vaccinations (are they all so necessary and if yes which ones are to be given for sure?), asking for visas (from where and when?), getting a proper health insurance (I know few agencies but which one is the best!?) How do you manage your money (eurochecks, dollars, personal account, international mailbox?)
     On which side of the planet shall I go first to ease my brain and body: east or west from France? I’ve read a little part of your recommendations like about not necessarily buying a Round Travel Tour ticket but prefer low cost flights from countries on the road. My first idea was to go to USA, then Cuba, French Polynesia, Australia (Perth), China (Wu-Han), India (Pondicherry), Asia, Reunion Island, Madagascar, Zanzibar and Kenya (Lake Victoria) then slowly back to Europe, but I’m open to change destinations on the way. Maybe I should have two years to do this all tour 🙂
     PS: Do you think some Krav Maga courses would be efficient for a woman travelling alone?

     I had to look up Krav Maga, which sounded like it could be a sort of Slavic origami that would help Steffie while away the hours on long buses, but is actually an Israeli self-defense system and martial art. I don’t feel right recommending what women should do about self-defense. There are tons of female travelers out there with websites that discuss this. The most famous might be Jodi Ettenberg who swears by her safety whistle and then on the extreme is this incredible Dutch woman who has hitchhiked from Mexico to Argentina (including the boat for the Darien Gap!) and I doubt she has anything at all. What do you girls who are reading this suggest to Steffie?
     As for your travel plans, it reminds me of the over-enthusiastic itineraries on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Round the World branch, which is understandable if it is your first time and you look at the map and see so many countries close together geographically, but resist that urge! Those countries should be broken into separate trips, and if this is your first big trip, I wouldn’t assume you could or would want to go for a year or two, which is a very long time and mentally grueling. (I wince when I see my colleagues say that they have been traveling for years and years, which implies that they haven’t been home in that time and is an affront to those who literally can do it—usually Aussies and Kiwis.) The longest trip I did was a little over a year, and my brain was fried. I was like a zombie the last two months.

     I am a big Southeast Asia fan, and I always tell everyone to fly to Bangkok or wherever is the cheapest destination and then one can roam around that part of the world for half a year easily. Further afield to Australia, China, and India, you can find cheap flights on AirAsia and then you can see how you feel about Africa or the Americas. North Americans can also take that advice, but it is too expensive to fly to Asia these days; I more strongly recommend Colombia or Central America. For both Southeast Asia and Latin America you don’t have to worry much about visas nor vaccinations nor money if you have an ATM card. With health insurance (I presume you mean travel insurance) I am a ticking time bomb as I never get it.
     You’re never too old to travel, especially if your back is strong enough to carry your baggage and are excited to see the world. Pick a place, go, and you will love it. Easy!

From Orlando, location unknown
     Hi i was just wondering how could i find a inexpensive ticket to puerto rico this saturday I made up my mind f— it.

     I reply to just about everyone, except for when I am made to feel like someone’s last minute travel agent. Even then I sometimes reply, but throw me a bone. How about at least saying how you found me?

From: Rocio Perez
Subject: your blog 🙂
     Hi Kent, my name is Rocio, I work for suxeedo, a marketing agency in Berlin. I was reading your blog and I would like to say that it is really interesting. You have a lot of experience, you have been in 100 countries, that’s amazing, you are absolutely brave, I dont know how could I react if I would be in jail in Thailand…
     I write you because we are looking for blogs like yours, we are promoting two German sites is trying to find a place in the American market. They are just starting. We would like to introduce the link of the page into one of your texts, through a keyword. And the other site is Of course, we offer a remuneration for that. Let me know if you are interested.

From: John Morrison
Subject: contribution to your TheDromomaniac site
     Hi Kent, I’ve been looking through some travel sites however TheDromomaniac stood out among the rest with the unique content and info you’ve published in it. I have an idea which I think can contribute more value to this. Is this something we can further talk about? Thanks and looking forward to your email!

     I get a few of these every week. It’s rare they mention my name, which seems lazy since they are trying to sell me something. I still don’t have any advertising or paid links or other people’s content on my site partly because I think it’s tacky and partly because I think it looks bad to the reader, though in this day and age that seems like a quaint anachronism. Do you care if websites like mine have advertising for Top 10 casinos or apartments in Barcelona? Do people in 2012 really click on Google Ads?
     This leads to all kinds of questions I have about what brought you to my website and blog, what you like and don’t like, what can be improved, (I can hear you already: “Dude, I just clicked “Like” on Facebook; it’s not as if we’re going to couple’s therapy now.”) how many times a week I should blog, what I should blog about, blah blah blah. If you have any feelings about it, you can write me privately through the contact page or comment below. I am keen to have your opinions. Thank you. (Bowing deeply, Japanese style)

     Inside the Rabat train station, Morocco

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The Travel Newbie Round the World Mailbag — 14 Comments

  1. Who’s says Your blog is too long?!! WTF! It seems to vary with the content, no? Seems that’s as it should be.

    If you can make ads work for you & not compromise your own values (after all, it is your blog!), feel free. Its a lot of work that you are currently “donating”.

    I like reading these and look forward to seeing them,


    PS That’s a great Morocco railway pic. That’s a place I’ve always wanted to go!

  2. Love the post, love the blog and I don’t think your posts are too long – but quick question…

    When answering steffie, you mention that many assume they can travel for years and years without going home in that time (I know I’m paraphrasing badly – but stay with me a moment). I was wondering if “home” in this case is your physical home, your home country/city, your family and friends at home, or some combination above.

    Do you think the desire to come “home” would be lessened slightly if one or more of those factors weren’t an issue? I’m an aussie myself, and have travelled long-term before, not quite to your extent (major kudos) but enough to know the basic ropes and have encountered a few people, myself included, where a physical house or home city are not a factor. Nor the family waiting at home, some for heartbreaking reasons, myself merely as my family/friends are as nomadic as myself. I found myself yearning less for my home country (although as grating as it may sound to others – I often miss the Aussie accent) and more a desire to settle in one place and simply stop travelling for a while.

    Back to the question – do you think a desire for home is more home sickness or travel weariness….or again a combination of the two?

  3. Oh, man, this is a hard question! Are you sure you don’t want me to find a cheap flight to Puerto Rico for you this weekend?
    I don’t mind Aussie English except when it comes from the mouth of your Prime Minister, which is like fingernails on a chalkboard, if I may say.

    I mean home as your physical home where your family is, but that is making a few assumptions: that you have family, that they live where you grew up for a stronger sense of home, that you want to see them, etc. If there’s not much at the country you come from since family and friends are also nomadic, it totally makes sense to try and have a home and community somewhere else.

    I imagine for someone like Steffie on her first big trip she will become weary and homesick (which I believe go hand in hand, though if it is a chicken and egg question I think the weariness comes first) before one year, but maybe not.
    It’s an interesting question as to when travelers have that tipping point where they realize that they don’t necessarily need to return to their home country like before, that home can be where you make it, though settling isn’t always easy.
    Does that answer your question? i still say Aussies and Kiwis have something in them that lets them go longer, possibly as a result of your geography.

  4. Hey Kent,
    Nice job……

    Any advice for severe jet lag back to US East Coast from months in Far East.

    Love getting your posts,

  5. Thanks for the reply kent 🙂 I promise next time I’ll ask for a cheap flight!

    if it helps – we Aussies find our PM just as annoying as everyone else! maybe more as some of us voted for her…

    As a quick aside – Do you think you will ever hit your tipping point where you find your home on the road?

  6. Steve, I wish i had an answer, but I have never found something that works and just get used to sleeping 12-4am and 12-4 pm.
    Didi and Gogo, that’s the million dollar question. I think it’s quite possible for the short term, but hard in the long-term and in a place like Japan, you will forever feel that it isn’t home. Then again, some people just make do, call it a home and get on with it. I admire those people.

  7. Hi Kent, I find this topic highly interesting, as I feel myself that I’m not really home any more no matter where I am… After last years one year trip, I thought settling and feeling home back in oz would be easy, but it’s not. Colin and I are still restless, me more than him, even though we were very clearly travel weary after 11 months. I think it’s in every person’s personality. I know heaps of people who can’t bear the thought of leaving “home”. And a lot of it has to do with materialistic stuff. Oh so philosophical…
    Keep the posts coming, I love reading them. Even though I want to pack my bags every time…

  8. What if Colin and you opened a restaurant in Central Germany? Then you can see how you feel about being “home” and I will be your janitor. Or, you can go travel and I will move in with Colin and I can be his chef’s apprentice.
    Another thing that can happen is next time you travel, you might go 6 months before you have had enough of it, and then the next big trip 3 months will feel OK, then 1 month, and then you are tired of long trips and are settled in somewhere.

  9. Good to hear that there might be hope for me…

    On a more serious note, and sorry to veer off this blog topic, I have carefully considered whether you should be forgiven to suggest we should grow old in Kassel. I have come to the conclusion that you have obviously not been exposed enough to the exquisite and highly sophisticated North-Hessian culture. Here is a clue of what happens to people who do not leave the place in time. And if you make it through the video, I’ll buy you dinner next time i see you.
    Enjoy the pain.

  10. Was it a bad answer? You want to throw away everything and walk the earth like me? Like I always say, if it was such a great idea, everyone would be doing it. Will you two make another trip soon? I will house-sit for you.
    That video was great! You should be proud of your rich cultural heritage.

  11. About insurance and you never getting it, on my last trip someone told me about DAN- Divers Alert Network. It’s a nonprofit aimed at helping scuba divers, and for your $29/year membership you get $100k evacuation insurance, which kicks in whenever you’re more than 50 miles from home, worldwide. Doesn’t have to be diving related, and apparently there is no pre-existing condition clause, it can be for accidents or illness, etc.

    I understand where you’re coming from about not having medical insurance in cheap countries (I once had blood/urine/stool samples taken, 2 doctors visits, an ultrasound and antibiotics purchased for $35 in India), but I think maybe the bigger financial risk is if you get badly hurt or sick in some rural area and have to get airlifted or something to a bigger city with facilities- easily runs 10’s of thousands.

    I haven’t signed up yet (even though I think it sounds worthwhile domestically too) but plan to for my next trip.

  12. The reasons you point out are why I am a ticking time bomb and have been VERY lucky thusfar. Do you have to be a diver to get the insurance? (How could they know?)
    Another person recommended Travel Guard, a British company.

  13. The people made it tiring since I was constantly, constantly being hassled for something. I wish I had made it into the mountains, though, and away from more of the touristy places.

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