The mad, mad, mad, mad world edition of the mailbag

     Greetings from frigid Switzerland! How can anyone live in cold weather? It narrows your options. I don’t get it. Before we get to the mail, let’s get you in a sunny mood with these two clips of the greatest dance scenes ever from the classic movie, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (In case they don’t show up in your browser below, here are the links: 1 and 2):

     OK, are we ready now?

From Carlos in Chile:
Subject: hi
     Message: I like you

     Short and sweet! Thank you, I’ll take it. This is a nice start to the mailbag.

From a guy in Mexico via Couchsurfing:
     Such kent hello if you are not interested to stay at my house just send me message or contact me by this means to know if you’re interested, also I mention hope is not a barrier to let you know that I like the guys I’m gay, I hope that does not bother. good bye we are in contact.

     I receive interesting Couchsurfing offers from guys now and then, most recently in Istanbul. Imagine how life was pre-Google Translate, which is quietly helping people all over the world communicate when they couldn’t before.

From Ahmed in Hungary:
     i need visa i have my passport with out visa can you do that please if like contact me phone 003,6703xxxx thanks.

     Uh oh. Can you say you like me first before you confuse my website with a visa service?

From Jake in USA:
     Hey Man, so I found your blog today and read all your tips sections–not only is your site filled with useful tips and tricks, but you’re pretty funny and a good writer. So thanks for putting all this out there!
     Anyway, I have a bit of a dilemma which i know you have encountered before. The onward ticket. I am going to be traveling in Central and possibly South America. I had planned on getting a one way into Costa Rica and then just playing it by ear from then on, as I have no outward time limit on my own schedule. However, Costa Rica has a 90 day visit limit and they require an onward ticket. I contacted the consulate and they require this ticket to be within the 90 days. I obviously don’t plan on staying in CR longer than that, or even nearly that long (in fact, I will be WWOOFing in Nicaragua for most of that time) but I dont want that damn outbound flight to tie me to Costa Rica on a certain date. I thought I would just buy a round trip ticket and pay the change fee later, but at $150-250 (United won’t even tell me how much within that range), that’s nearly the cost of the ticket itself, at best! At worst, the change will cost more than the ticket itself.
     I am not willing to mock up a dummy e-ticket to show ticket and border agents, I’m just not comfortable risking immigration issues or incarceration to save $250 bucks. That’s out of my depth for now. I could make the outbound ticket a return to the states, but who wants that after only 3 months? I could make the outbound ticket to another country, but then I’ll likely have the same problem of being required an outbound ticket once I get to that next country. Plus, who knows if i’ll be ready to leave Central Am by then, or where I’ll want to go!
     I’m not really sure what to do here, other than buy the return ticket and potentially just not use it. Do you have any other ideas or suggestions for a friendly stranger (not that strange!)?

     Everyone freaks out when I talk about fake onward tickets, even if you have perfectly explained why they are needed: your plans are open, you have no intention to overstay or work, and the airlines are screwing you over because they can. I am going to update my site and make explain the fake onward tickets part in greater detail by making it a page of its own.
     As far as your problem is concerned, if you have zero idea where you might need to use an onward plane ticket and don’t want to make a fake, I would spend time asking the airlines what their refund policy is for a regular ticket leaving Costa Rica (and don’t make it from any other country than Costa Rica). Ask them if the ticket is 100% refundable, what the fees are to do so and when you have to make the refund if you don’t use it.
     I don’t like that answer either, which is why I take the very small risk and make the fake.


     It doesn’t say so, but this is from a McDonald’s in Mulhouse, France. The real question is why can’t we get goat cheese burgers in America? The French are the best.

From Jesse in Canada:
     Hey Kent, I found your blog a few days ago and have been reading it extensively. Having just gotten in to travelling hardcore in the last year, I’ve only just begun starting to figure out how to do it frequently on pennies, I find it super awesome to have found a very detailed blog that has a personal touch on experience and knowledge.
     I’m sorry if this is somewhere obvious on your site or wherever, but how do you fund your constant running around if you don’t mind my asking? I’ve been leaving for a few weeks at a time, coming home to scrounge more at work and then leaving again. I’m just curious as to what you might reveal…whether it be a lot of saved money or working abroad, money online, etc.
     I’m at a crossroads in my life where I’m trying to finish uni, travel as much as possible, work, and not be overwhlemed and sucked in to a world of debt and full-time boringness.
     Thanks, and take care!

     Hey Jesse, I’ve worked dozens and dozens of different jobs through temp agencies, craigslist ads, word of mouth or any way I could to save a little money, meaning rarely going out with friends and living like a hermit often, and then I traveled very cheaply, often too cheaply. As I always say, it isn’t how much you earn, it’s how much you save.
     I feel deeply unqualified to give life advice, but it is this: finish school. The jobs you would get will pay more because you have a diploma, as worthless as it might otherwise feel. Debt is a problem that you would need to tackle, but it sounds like you already know how to travel cheaply.
     Wait! There are others in your boat:

From Karina in Scotland:
     Hey Kent, tall chick from twitter here. I found your blog whilst googling “dromomania”, Michael Palin mentioned it in his book and I had to find out more. Well I ended up spending the whole afternoon at work reading your blogs (oops).
     I love the idea of one-way travel, currently I work a full time government job and have managed to take well planned holidays, however since I started this job pretty young (19, im 23 now) I missed out on the whole gap year travelling thing. Since last year I have been planning to take a career break and take a few years off for adventuring and discovering. I took the leap this week and applied for voluntary redundancy, which means I will leave my job next May. I’d roughly like to work in Europe for 3 months au pairing, then perhaps Dubai for nine doing the same thing, which brings me around to summer 2014 where id like to do Camp America, then after that bum around asia for a few months and eventually end up in Australia for a working holiday. My family aren’t exactly thrilled, they’d rather I spend my savings on a mortgage but the thought of being tied down here is not desirable. So anyway since you are a seasoned traveler i’d like to ask the following questions:
     —What were you like when you first started travelling? Has your personality been strengthened by putting yourself in new situations?
     —How do you fund your trips? Do you have the same job to go back to or do you start new when you have to go home?
     —Do you have anything to fall back on, e.g. a degree?
     I’m worried that i’m throwing away a good job for a few years of fun, but I’ve been told that I’ll probably encounter so many opportunities abroad that I’ll never think twice about leaving here. I dropped out of college so I don’t have that magical instant approval of a degree that employers desire. My thoughts are that if things go wrong in Oz I can come back to Scotland to study.
     Sorry for the long email, I look forward to hearing back from you and getting some guidance hopefully. Im so glad I found your website!

     Hi Tall Chick, how can I sort my twitter feed by height? Never mind. Let’s see, yes, I have lived super-cheaply at home. My plan was that if I was in USA for a short time (i.e. less than two months), I’d stay with my parents and if longer, I would move to a bigger city and rent a temporary room (in someone else’s place to avoid having my name on anything official for liability reasons).
     The working holiday visa is the greatest thing ever! I wish I could have done that when I was in my 20s or maybe it existed and I was too dumb to know. I would do that as much as possible in Oz, Japan, Canada—anywhere I could. Camp America, however, might drive you insane as a 25-year-old with the low money and many restrictions.
     I do have a university degree in Business-Economics, and it is a good thing to fall back on, though I am still waiting to fall back on it. It’s funny that your family is more intent on you getting a mortgage than an education. Do you think if you came back to Scotland in your late 20s that you could get a good-enough job or be admitted into a school you would want to attend? That might be the answer to your big question.
     “What were you like when you first started travelling? Has your personality been strengthened by putting yourself in new situations?”
     I was a blank slate when I started out and I simply found traveling more interesting than not traveling, and since it was easy to make money on temporary jobs, I kept doing it. The longest I’ve ever had a job in USA was six months. I should add that there is a lot of sacrifice to hardcore saving as opposed to buying or doing things while at home—sorry, whilst home, I should say.
     Sure, traveling inevitably makes you stronger. You are constantly being put into unknown situations and you overcome obstacles big and small.
     If you aren’t giving much up by leaving, it doesn’t sound like a big risk to go traveling. Either you get it out of your system and go home, or you don’t like it and you go home, or you like it and you start a catering business in Abidjan like Phil Paoletta did.

From Egeh in Somaliland:
     Hello, when are you going back to Somaliland? Perhaps I got a job for you there! Honestly, you are a man with wonders and humour, I should think. Traveling can be addictive and deadly but I think it is the time you settled down! Nobody will give you such good advice but who knows God had sent me for your sake. Tell me where and when you really want to settle down? My simple idea, let’s start a travel club online if other things fail.

     Yes, when AM I going back to Somaliland? I had an unforgettable time there. I miss that part of the world.
     Traveling can be deadly. Amen to that, brother. I am dead tired of it. Can we start an offline business? I don’t want to stare at a computer all day long. Let’s do something with camels. Think about it. I am ready to disappear.

     Feel free to write me. You can use the contact page. Easy.

quechua backpack

     My friends giving some love to my new 70 liter Quechua backpack I got in a Decathlon store. 65 euros ($85).

     Why don’t you stay with me? You can follow along with RSS, subscribe to an email feed, see what’s cooking on Facebook, pray that I’ll say something worth remembering on Twitter and if you are really slumming it, there’s always Google+.

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The mad, mad, mad, mad world edition of the mailbag — 9 Comments

  1. Every blog a classic. Man up Kent, its time you deal with the cold. Layering is the key. So maybe you don’t know everything about successful travelling! Ha.

  2. Another great blog. Maybe you should write an advice column. BTW, sitting in the Tokyo Haneda Lounge (Ringo Starr is aitting next to me, I might add.) on my back to AK. Spent the week with Greg @ the Hoshi Boshi Lodge. Probably violated everyone if your travel principals on this trip, except for thoroughly enjoying myself. Hope you’ll forgive me.

  3. Thanks! It’s a shame you couldn’t bring Ringo Starr with you to Greg’s. I need to get back to Japan someday soon, too. Glad to hear you had a good time, which is the most important thing, more than following my suggestions!

  4. Hey Kent,
    I greatly enjoyed this post, and not just because I was mentioned in it. Thanks for the entertaining and interesting (and actually helpful) read!!

  5. ha ha, you want to do something with camels !! … there are hundreds, maybe thousands of feral camels in central australia and people get paid to kill them. there’s a job for you, shooting feral camels

  6. that was a good one, Kent. I sent you an email some months ago when we were both in Mexico but alas it didn’t make it to this post 🙂

    if I may add some words:
    to Jake: if you’re nervous about making a fake ticket yourself, find a friend who is a travel agent, ask them to book a refundable ticket for you, print it, cancel it, and if you run into trouble, which is very unlikely, blame it on your travel agent. just make sure the onward ticket is not on the same airline that you fly into on, or an affiliated airline.

    to Jesse and Karina: if you think you might want to travel indefinitely, try to get a freelance job that you can do from anywhere and travel with a small laptop. If you still don’t have a suitable skill, google and a couple of “for dummies” books might help to begin with. I happen to be a translator and sometimes in two days I can make enough money to travel for a month, if I’m lucky. otherwise in a couple of extra days. And it’s usually a good break for the body from the pressures of traveling. I know people who do graphic design, web design, photography. .. It’s not going to happen overnight but if you have some savings to begin with… also even if you wanna stop travelling you can keep freelancing or making extra money beside your office job.

  7. Thanks for the tips, Timohir. Something you wrote before didn’t make it in the post? I’m sorry about that. I am usually good about accepting everything that isn’t spam!

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