Round the World: Dry Run to Rome

I’m not sure a trip to Rome has ever been referred to as a “dry run”, but there’s no reason it can’t be.

On Wednesday, the Flight Deal announced $640 roundtrip tickets from Washington DC to Rome good for next weekend. This deal also came up about a month ago, but because of the Iranians need to keep your passport for an indeterminate amount of time, I didn’t want to risk booking the trip and not having my passport back in time.

I’ve mentioned that one of the most important factors for me in traveling is getting a good deal on the flight. Since the amount of Citi ThankYou points needed to book a flight is directly related to the cost, I usually use Citi ThankYou points for a good fare deal. Most award tickets are tied to a fixed-point amount (e.g. the 9,000 Avios roundtrip flight I take from DC to Nashville), but flights booked through Citi are revenue tickets, which means that not only do I get the ticket for free, but I also earn miles on the actual flight.

So despite the fact that I had to travel to South Carolina last weekend and will travel to south Florida next weekend, I’m wedging a trip to one of the greatest cities in the world in between. As much as I travel, this will actually be my first trip to mainland Europe. That makes this perfect opportunity to test out some of the gear, communication strategies, and applications that I want to use on the longer round-the-world trip.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to get good at something is to do it and fail at it. Preparation is important, but it can only take you so far. Sometimes it’s necessary to test out what you do and see where the holes are. While calling a trip to Rome a dry run is ridiculous on almost any level, it does afford me the opportunity to test out some of my round-the-world strategies in a relatively safe and easy-to-navigate environment. Man, this hobby is the best.

Read More

Round the World: Time Off from Work

I often mention that I’m very lucky to have found a way to travel on points. I don’t often talk about how I’m also very lucky to make enough money to pay out-of-pocket for things I can’t pay for with points, that I’ve got great friends to travel with, and that I live in a place with easy access to three major airports. While everyone can earn points cheaply, to travel the way I do really does require those last things, as well.

So it’s kind of sad when I say that probably my biggest impediment to traveling is time off from work; it’s a reality that most of us face. I’m very lucky to get more vacation than most, but all my travel has to be centered over a weekend, and for out-of-the-country trips, centered over a long weekend.

Since that’s reality, the best thing I’ve done is to try and maximize my situation. I do this in two ways: first, by being as open as I can about the situation and second, by being willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

My boss knows that I like to travel, so expectations have already been set that most long weekends, I’ll be going somewhere. She’s usually the first person I talk to when planning a trip. That may seem a bit ridiculous, but it’s very important to keep that line of communication open. She’s the gatekeeper for most of my trips (i.e. she’s one of the few who can determine whether or not I can go), so I do whatever I can to keep her happy. It also helps that I have a boss that is very open to these kind of things.

The other piece to this puzzle is being willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. If I’m gone for a long weekend, my work can wait until I get back. If I’m gone for five weeks, it can’t. That means that my coworkers will be picking up the slack while I’m gone. One of the absolute best things someone with a 9-to–5 job who likes to travel can do is to jump on any chance to assist a coworker with a project when they need help. Maybe it’s when they go on a two-week vacation or maybe it’s when they get overwhelmed with a specific project, either way, it’s only a matter of time before a coworker has to pick up the slack for you. If you want to keep a good relationship (and to make sure they’ll help you out), happily assist them whenever you can.

For now, a regular job for me and most others is a reality. By constantly keeping my boss in the loop and by keeping my coworkers happy, I can minimize the impact that my job has on travel. Most people don’t consider time-off strategies when planning travel, but if you want to maximize both of these areas, it should be one of the first things you think about.

Read More

Round the World: Immunizations

I’m not the biggest fan of going to the doctor. It’s not that I’m particularly afraid of something being wrong; I honestly want to know if something is. It’s more that I don’t really like to be told what I’m doing wrong when I already know I’m doing things wrong. One more step on the ladder to self-actualization, I guess.

Because of that, immunizations are one of the things that was really easy to put off. Here we are a month out from the trip and I still hadn’t gotten any of the medicines I needed for the trip.

This may seem like an easy step that could be skipped: don’t have sex with locals, don’t eat suspicious food, and don’t drink the water and you should be covered, right? While honestly, those are good ways to mitigate something going wrong, there’s actual codified reasons for going. Namely that you simply can’t get a visa to certain countries without proving immunization.

My group of doctors luckily had specific travel appointments. It wasn’t covered by insurance, but they could write prescriptions for everything I needed and make suggestions on how to find the rest. Plus, since this doctor specialized in travel immunizations, she could better suggest cheaper generics that would work just as well and would be covered by my insurance. Your doctor may not have something like this, but if you’re going on any trip, it’s definitely worth asking.

For the stops on our trip, I was pretty well covered with getting five things: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B1, Typhoid, Malaria2, and Yellow Fever. While all are suggested for traveling to the places I’m going, the only actual requirement was Yellow Fever to get into/out of Madagascar. There were a couple that were also suggested, especially if you plan on coming in contact with livestock, but I’ve learned my lesson in that arena.3

Immunizations may seem like something you can put off, but it’s kind of important to do this at least a month before you trip. The CDC has a great resource for determining what you need. Some of the medicines require you to take it before you go, in addition to while you’re there. So you want to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get all of that sorted out. Don’t be like me, be proactive in this. It didn’t end up hurting my trip, but it really could have derailed the whole thing.

  1. Hep A and B are good for life and I had those when I spent a couple of weeks going through Mayan ruins in the Mexican jungle in 2006
  2. I’m sure that Malaria medicine has come a long way since the last time I took it, but man, it gave me the most insane dreams. Can’t wait.
  3. On the Inca Trail a couple of years ago, there was a llama that looked like it needed to be hugged, so I obliged. When coming back through customs, the agent asked if I’d come in contact with any livestock and like an idiot, I said yes. They put me in customs jail until they could get everything sorted out. Moral of the story: don’t tell customs agents you hugged a llama.

Read More

Round the World: Choosing what to do (Part 1)

One of the most overwhelming things about a trip like this is when you get into actually planning the day-to-day activities. For short trips, it’s one of my favorite parts. But for something as big as this, I’ve found my self really slacking off.

For now, Mike and I decided to focus on the first half our trip (New Zealand, Australia, Seoul, Kathmandu, and Bhutan). When you break it down into distinct pieces like that, making decisions becomes quite a bit easier. Fortunately, I’ve found with most first-time visits to places, there’s such a wealth of great information out there that some of these plan themselves.1

We have a bit of an open-ended swing in New Zealand and Australia. We booked our Skyteam flights into Auckland, New Zealand and out of Sydney, Australia with intentions of getting from New Zealand to Australia on our own. This gave us a bit more leeway into deciding how much time to spend in each place.2

We knew we wanted to road trip around New Zealand. A Google search confirmed that this was not an original plan. Far from it. Hundreds of people have done the same thing and posted guides to doing so. These guides are invaluable tools. Not because we couldn’t find these things to do on our own, but because it gives us a template to work on putting things together. A road trip grants you the freedom to go anywhere at any time, but to continue on with our larger trip, we need to start in Auckland and end in Wellington. Fortunately for us, the New Zealand Travel Bureau already anticpated our need. Those guys are the best.


From top to bottom
The amount of time we’re spending in New Zealand, puts a weird crunch on the next week of our trip. Because of the way the schedule works out, the other four places on the list are going to be done in just over a week (two days in Sydney, one day in Seoul, one in Kathmandu and three in Bhutan). That means planning takes a much more rigid structure. We’re planning on having a pretty rigid schedule in Sydney, Seoul and Kathmandu, just to be able to see anything. And, as I’ll talk about in a future update, Bhutan is pre-planned for us.

Choosing what to do for any trip can be a daunting task, but when you’ve got one with as many stops as we do, it can seem impossible to plan. My suggestion is to think about these parts of the trip as their own separate entity. Don’t let the things you decide to do in New Zealand affect the things you want to do in Sydney. You may find overlapping activities on your trip, but trust me, you’ll be much more likely to maintain your sanity.

  1. Seriously. Just Google “XX Days in YY”, you’ll probably get a hit. It’s when you start getting into second and third time visits that things get a bit more difficult. I’ve found that for some of the deeper cuts, it’s good to know someone who’s lived there and can give you a fuller view of things.
  2. As I mentioned before, with this specific award ticket, you’re only allowed six stops in total. But you can book into one city and out of another and have it only count as one stop. So instead of blowing two of our six stops on New Zealand and Australia, we’re flying into Auckland and out of Sydney and booked a flight from Wellington to Sydney on our own (using Citi ThankYou Points). This allows us to spend time in both New Zealand and Australia, while only counting as one stop.

Read More

Round the World: How?

When it comes down to it, the easiest part of traveling is…traveling. Like any hobby or lifestyle choice, the goal is to form positive habits that develop skills that make you better at what you’re choosing to do. Traveling is an especially difficult hobby. Not because the actual act of going on a trip is difficult (though, it can be), but because being able to regularly travel requires several different circumstances and skills that don’t necessarily overlap and even worse, are often at odds with each other.

It’s not the perfect comparison, but I’ve always envisioned travel as a pick two triangle1. In this case, the three sides of the triangle are cost, long trips and quality of trip.2 Like everything in life, the key is to find the combination of things that work best for you. For this Round the World trip, we chose to sacrifice length of trip to ease some of the non-monetary costs. (i.e. if I went on a six-month Round the World trip, I doubt I’d be coming back to a job or a girlfriend)

With those tradeoffs in mind, the only other thing I need to preface is monetary cost. I tend to only mention it when it directly relates to a trip, but the vast majority of my travel is subsidized by points and miles.3 Collecting these points and miles entail a ton of other costs (monetary and otherwise), but it’s opened up a world that I was unsure I would ever get to experience. As I detail this trip, it’ll be evident how much of a role these points and miles play in this trip, but I want to make two things clear: a lot of work and time went into collection and this trip is nowhere near free; I have (and will) spend a lot of money doing this.

With that out of the way, the how of booking this trip can break down into two parts: first is what I did to book the trip and second will be how we chose where to go.

If you’re looking to do a lot of travel at one time, a Round-the-World ticket is the way to go. Most airline alliances offer them and they allow you to pay a flat price to go to any set amount of stops in the world. We chose Delta and Sky Team because they offer an award option for the ticket (180,000 Skymiles in coach or 280,000 for Business/First Class), because collecting SkyMiles is relatively easy, and because they’re are basically worthless otherwise4. It’s going to cost you more in time to collect the points and money, but I can’t recommend anyone doing this type of trip in coach. The initial flight alone (14 hour flight to Seoul, 40 minute layover, 10 hour flight to Auckland) justifies the purchase. Collecting these miles took the better part of two years. About 75% were credit card sign up bonuses, 20% spending, and 5% flying.

Here’s the deal with the ticket: you get any six stops in the world as long as you continually move in one direction. You’re free to fly into one airport and then fly out of another one (for example, we’re flying into Auckland and flying out of Sydney) and you’re allowed to stay up to 24 hours anywhere you have a layover without it counting as one of your six stops.

When you’re actually scheduling a trip like this, you really can only work in broad strokes. We knew we wanted to go west, we knew we wanted it to take about a month and we had three places we absolutely wanted to go (New Zealand/Australia, Iran, and Bhutan). The rest of the stops came about just to get us to those three places. That’s the lamest way to pick a trip, but unless you’re willing to fork over $15,000+ for a paid ticket, then you’re stuck dealing with award availability. We knew we wanted to go somewhere in Africa and somewhere in South America. Cape Town and the Galapagos were our first two choices, but Madagascar and Buenos Aires were almost as good. Paris just kind of got thrown in there because it made the flights to Madagascar and Buenos Aires work. If keeping the trip short isn’t a concern, the booking agents (you literally call someone on the phone who sits there with you for 4+ hours trying to get all the flights to work) usually can make almost anything work.

Traveling is about being flexible where you should be and steady where you shouldn’t. We have the things that are important to us and the way to travel well is sticking to those things. It’s not about picking the right destinations– there’s no such thing– it’s about making good choices based on what’s available to you.

  1. Essentially, when you’re doing something, you can have two of three things. The one you most often see is cheap, good and fast. (i.e. something can be good and fast, but it won’t be cheap; it can be fast and cheap, but it won’t be good; or it can be good and cheap, but it won’t be fast
  2. It’s not a perfect comparison because long trips are not inherently good. They’re more logarithmic (or even parabolic) than linear or exponential in nature. (i.e. there comes a point where added time on a trip gives you no additional enjoyment and may even take away enjoyment because you’re ready to get back home)
  3. I don’t ever talk about it in depth because I don’t really have anything to add to the discussion of how to cheaply earn points and miles; there are quite a few blogs out there that have already detailed most of what you need to know and do. Some of my favorite are the Points Guy, the Frequent Miler, Mommy Points and Million Miles Secrets. If you every want to discuss it, feel free to contact me.
  4. Delta’s award chart is notoriously difficult to find saver-level award availability.

Read More

Round the World: Who, Where, When…and Why?

For those of you who don’t know, my friend, Mike Turner, and I are heading around the world February 28 through April 3. Here’s our full schedule:

New Zealand and Australia: February 28 – March 9
Seoul, South Korea: March 9–10
Kathmandu, Nepal and Bhutan: March 10–14
Tehran, Iran: March 16–19
Madagascar: March 20–25
Paris: March 25–27
Buenos Aires, Argentina: March 28 – April 2

I really want to take the time to detail the ins and outs of this trip; not only the actual traveling, but also the planning. I’m doing this mainly because I really enjoy writing about this kind of stuff, but secondarily I hope it helps people think with more specificity about these things. I’ve scoured blogs and Twitter feeds for broad information to help me specifically plan my trip. Similarly, I hope that you can take these broad strokes and plan your trip. It doesn’t have to be around the world, it doesn’t even have to be outside the country, but do something somewhere that you’re not used to.

So why this trip, why this itinerary and why right now? To be honest, why we chose this itinerary is intrinsically linked to the how, so I’ll get into that in later posts. Right now I want to focus on the other two.

Choosing to do the trip right now is more circumstance than actual planning. The original plan was to do it during November 2013 (so I’d be on it right now), but with work/life schedules, the amount of time it takes to earn points, and getting award availability for flights to each stop , March 2014 made more sense. I know “circumstances said so” is rarely a good answer, but for traveling, I found sometimes it’s the only answer.

When planning a trip, there’s always reasons as to when you’re planning it. Trips in college/high school were planned during summer months because that’s when you were free. Honeymoons are planned after weddings; Spring Break trips are planned during Spring Break; long weekend trips are planned on long weekends. Because of the way society works and the way the vast majority of us have structured our lives, we’ll always be planning trips, not when we want to, but because circumstances say so. I don’t mean that as depressing; it’s the tradeoff we make to have other things in our lives. I mean, what’s the alternative? Never get married because your wedding may be the same weekend as a good flight to the Maldives?

I want to wrap up with why we’re doing a Round-the-World trip. I’ve explained my ideology for travel and this kind of trip fits in perfectly with those ideas. Why this trip? Cost. Cost in money, cost in points, cost in time. It’s less costly to spend four days in Bhutan via an eight-hour flight from Seoul than two days there and two days back from the U.S.  It’s not possible to book a flight from the United States to Iran, but when you’re coming from Russia, it’s just another stopover. Why spend thousands of dollars (or hundreds of thousands of points) to fly to Madagascar from DC when you can go direct from Paris? Cost isn’t the most profound answer, but profundity doesn’t get you into first class.

It’s funny, but the who, where, when, and why may be the least interesting aspects of this whole thing. Taking the trip will obviously be the best part, but I’m really excited to share about the hows and the preparation. Stay tuned. There’s quite a bit more to come.

Read More

Mike: What’s in your Bag?

In preparation for a five week adventure that only involves one backpack each, a good question that I’m always asked is, “What’s in your bag?”  In all the traveling that I’ve done over the years, I seem to appreciate the simplicity and flexibility that comes with traveling smart and light.  Never have I gotten home from a trip and said, “I should have brought more stuff.”  The exact opposite has always been true for me.  Shrugging, in my early years of traveling, I realized that the extra weight of carrying with me 4 pairs of shoes, and 20 different shirts far exceeded the annoyance of carrying along extra baggage.  Now, I will see, traveling with one backpack is much easier to do when going to a summer destination.  However, in our case for the 2014 ATW trip, Jordon and I will be bouncing back-and-forth across the equator—experiencing lots of different weather conditions along the way.  So in celebration of travel minimalism, I disclose the travel gear that works perfectly for me:


THE NORTH FACE Terra 35 Backpack – After years of using my trusty Jansport, I wanted something with a little more padding and back support.  I have found it in The North Face Terra 35.  I find it to be the perfect size-wise bag for logging serious flight miles.  It is adaptable, sleek, and easy to use; and provides a vertical mesh channel on back panel provides superb cooling comfort. The Terra 35 completely anatomically correct to help support proper posture. Cushy shoulder harness and tricot-lined hipbelt keeps you comfortable.

 


Columbia Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt, Large, Beacon – Proper travel shirts are a must.  You need something that is lightweight, convertible, and especially quick-drying.  Theses shirts by Columbia can be used in a day, then washed overnight for use or packing the following day.  I travel with 2-3 of these in different colors on every trip.This keeps the shirt fresh and odor-free over multiple wearings. Other features include mesh-lined cape vents at the back shoulder, which provide maximum airflow and breathable comfort; deep pockets at the front chest for stashing gear; a rod holder for hands-free convenience; and button tabs for rolling up and securing the sleeves.

 


ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Tee,Black – A great choice for all your sporting adventures as well as daily wear, this ExOfficio Give-N-Go men’s tee is made of the same fabric found in ExOfficio’s popular Give-N-Go underwear. High-performance and low-maintenance, the Give-N-Go is particularly suited to travel–whether by foot or plane–as its quick-drying fabric allows you to wash on the go and pack fewer pairs of underwear.  Perfect as an undershirt or for working out, the Give-N-Go tee has a slim fit with a straight hemline, forward shoulder seam, and tagless label. It’s made from 94 percent nylon and 6 percent lycra, and they’re ultra-light at just 4 ounces per square yard (5.5 ounces in total). It also features treatment with Aegis Microbe Shield to control odor-causing bacteria.


Levi’s Men’s 527 Slim Boot Cut Jeans – The Levi’s® brand embodies a pioneering spirit that is always driven to innovate. Levi’s jeans have been worn by presidents and ranchers, Americans and Russians, doctors and outlaws, kings and coal miners. They are a common thread with a common promise: to provide quality clothing in which to Go Forth™

 

 


Hush Puppies Men’s Outclass Oxford,Dark Brown – Hush Puppies invented casual. They apply their philosophy of fun, comfortable, genuine style to every shoe they make – from work to weekend. In 1958, when they first introduced the soft suede Hush Puppies shoe, something amazing happened; the world discovered casual, comfortable style– and that style has been a favorite ever since. Because they combine advanced comfort technology with fun, contemporary styling, Hush Puppies fit perfectly into everyday life. So it’s no wonder Hush Puppies have become a worldwide favorite. With a full line of footwear, apparel, and accessories for the whole family. Hush Puppies can be seen on the feet of celebrities, in movies, and in 80 countries around the globe.

 

ExOfficio Men’s GiveNGo Boxer Brief – Well-suited for adventure and travel, the high-performance Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs from ExOfficio have built-in features to keep you dry and fresh no matter where you roam. The extremely breathable and moisture-wicking fabric is quick-drying so you can wash-and-dry on the go and pack fewer pairs, and is treated with Aegis Microbe Shield to control odor-causing bacteria, making it ideal for wear in hot, humid climates and on sweaty adventures. A terry elastic back and functional fly add comfort and convenience. Take the Give-N-Go camping, fishing, hiking, paddling, exploring, backpacking or nowhere at all.

 

Exofficio Men’s Bugs Away Breez’r Cape Hat – The BugsAway Cape Hat has a rollaway cape to provide maximum bug and sun protection, which can also button under the chin to keep it in place on windy days. It is rated UPF 30+, dries quickly, and wicks moisture to keep you cool. Permethrin, the active ingredient in Insect Shield, is invisible, odorless, and tightly bonded to the fabric fibers, and lasts the expected lifetime of the garment (70 washes). It repels mosquitoes (including those carrying West Nile virus and malaria), ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges (no-see-ums). Insect Shield repellent lasts 70 washings.

 


Tripshell International TR-Adap-BK Travel Plug Adapter With Surge Protection – Tripshell is an universal travel adapter that covers outlets over 150 countries including US, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, UK. It comes with surge protection that protects your electrical appliances safe from Spikes/Surges in foreign electricity supply. It has built in 6A fuse, L-N surge protector, 110/230 Vac voltage indicators, and children safety shutters. Power rating: 2.5A Max. 100 240 Vac. – 100 Vac max. 575W – 230 Vac max. 1380W

 

Mini 2200mAh Portable Power Bank Pack External Extended Battery Built-In Highlight Torch  – 2200mAh external battery comes with one USB ports (5V/1A) which can be used to charge your smart mobile phone, MP3, MP4, PSP, or any other mobile digital products. Easily recharge it with the Micro USB cable. It supports pass-through charging so that you can charge the external battery and the digital products simultaneously. It is made of excellent quality 18650 Lion battery that can make the life of the external battery longer, and the charge and discharge cycles reach at least 1000 times.

 

 


Exofficio Men’s Bugs Away Chas’r Short Sleeve Tee – Enjoy your life in the great outdoors without the worry of pesky insects and bugs cramping your style. Nothing can ruin a weekend camping adventure like an evening of itching and scratching away at the mounds of mosquito and bug bites you got on your afternoon hike. Show those bugs who’s the boss when you show up in the ExOfficio Men’s Bugsaway Chas’r Tee Short Sleeve Shirt.


Frogg Toggs Action Poncho – Frogg toggs ultra-lite2 bi-laminate action poncho w/ hood, one size fits most colors: khaki, and green made in frogg toggs ul2 non-woven bi-laminate materials, w/ stuff/storage sack included; ultra-lite and pre-packed, waterproof & breathable, washable and recyclable materials w/ no pvc or phthalates

 

 


Swiftwick Performance Seven inch Cuff Socks – Olefin produces a fast drying, lightweight sock with superb abrasion resistance and long-lasting durability. As a fiber, Olefin retains less than .01% of its weight in moisture and resists deterioration from chemicals and perspiration. The combination of nylon and spandex with the Olefin fiber helps create a softer, more comfortable sock with incredible breathability for everyday wear. Olefin, the only Nobel Prize-winning fiber, has a great story. Its production leaves very little waste; therefore, it has less environmental impact than most polymers and is easier to recycle. Olefin also has the lightest specific gravity of any other fabric.

 


eBags Small Packing Cubes – 3pc Set – These amazing packing cubes help keep me organized.  I can comfortably for 3-4 of these in my THE NORTH FACE Terra 35 Backpack.  I organize clothing, accessories, and toiletries easily and efficiently; and can pull “sections” of my bag out with ease.  A must for staying organized along the adventure!

Read More

Round the World: Eye of the Storm

I’m going around the world in March (and parts of February and April) and I’m trying to detail the whole ordeal. Here’s what I’ve got thus far:

Who, Where, When…and Why?
How?
Eye of the Storm

Traveling is a lot like a hurricane. There’s a flurry of activity in the beginning when you’re trying to plan the thing. Then there’s a flurry of activity in the end when you actually take the trip. But in the middle, there’s this calm of anticipation. You’re riding high from booking the trip, but there’s not much you can do at the moment. Nothing, in fact. Only waiting.

That’s where I am right now. I’ve got the major flights booked, I’ve got hotels in Seoul (at least the second of three times we’re there) and Paris secured, but besides those things, there’s not much to be done. Except wait.

This trip is decidedly different due to its scale. Because of the many moving pieces, I’m trying to avoid locking myself into things that don’t have to be locked in (i.e. everything but the Bhutan and Iran swings). There’s just too much that can change; an outbound flight delay from Seoul could change the train departure in Iguazu Falls, Brazil. There will come a point where I will have to make semi-permanent decisions, but this far out the old Yiddish proverb comes to mind: “man plans, God laughs”; and I’m doing my best to not get laughed at by God.

That means I’m stuck planning in generalities. Honestly, it’s kind of an interesting way to go about things. Take New Zealand for example. The general plan is to rent a car in Auckland, road trip to Wellington, and then catch a flight to Sydney from there. Normally I would work from the outside inwards: I’d book the Wellington to Sydney flight, figure out how many days I can spend on the road, reserve the rental car in Auckland and then plan the in between parts. But because I’m getting to Auckland a day before Mike and because we’re actively trying to get on the same flight, we can’t book the flights to Sydney because we don’t know how long both of us will be in New Zealand and thus can’t estimate the drive time between Auckland and Wellington.

Instead, I’m finding interesting things I want to do between the two places, regardless of how long it takes or where it’s located. I don’t know what day I’ll be where, so I can literally look at everything New Zealand has to offer and pick my favorites. It’s fun to do that now– much more fun than picking things to do based on what day you’re at a particular place– but I also imagine it’ll be a lot more disappointing when we do solidify the schedule and I can’t do everything I want to do.

I don’t consider myself inflexible, but I do like a solid plan to be in place. I’ve always known that the best plan is one that can fit to circumstance, but I’m quickly learning that sometimes the only plan is to be flexible. A couple of years ago when I was visiting my friend Jeff in Dublin, we missed our flight to Edinburgh due to a calendar mix up. At the airport, we made the decision to hop on a bus to Galway, a cross country drive to the west coast. It ended up being my favorite thing about the trip.

With so many moving pieces to this round-the-world trip, the goal shouldn’t be to prevent missed flights to Scotland, the goal should be to find the Galways in the mistakes.

Read More