As we have conducted research for this trip, we have discovered a virtual community of kindred spirits. Though more unusual for Americans than Europeans or Australians, round the world treks are not uncommon. For all those who think we are crazy or entering uncharted territory, we offer the following six sites as corroboration and inspiration:
1. Me-go.net – Young Megan Kearney is currently two months into her second RTW journey. The word intrepid comes to mind as this lone traveler tackles strange and challenging destinations such as Mongolia and Kryzgstan. She includes terrific photography, detailed travel journals, and an account of her motives for wandering the globe. Her trademark is cartwheeling everywhere she goes, though she claims these photos are tough to capture.
2. Tripconnect – A perfect resource for those with friends who travel. As with linkedin, users build out a network of friends with whom they share travel tips, reviews, and advice. Since sending out a message last week, I’ve received a series of thoughtful, pointed responses catered specifically to our destinations. I now know all the best places to park our campervan on the North Island of New Zealand, the coolest family-friendly safari spots in South Africa, and the most alluring hot springs in Costa Rica.
3. Idealist.org – A resource-rich site for people seeking professional or volunteer opportunities to serve in countries around the world. I’m still trawling the site trying to decide which places besides India we might try to pitch in. A recent story highlights the growing trend of service-oriented vacations, or “voluntourism.”
4. Worldhum – An ever-expanding collection of travel writing and philosophy that highlights the shrinking nature of our planet. The country and topic specific blogs are particularly handy. While tripconnect will help us with details, Worldhum provides literary inspiration. Check out their list of Top 30 Travel Books and the column by Rolf Potts, one of our favorite travel writers and author of Vagabonding.
5. Grooms Globe Trek – Wharton-educated photographers who just returned from their own year off with the kids. They share many of our reasons for wanting to take off and have taken away from their trip many of the same things we hope to take away from ours. They were so moved by their experience in Africa that they’ve created a book of portraits from their travels which they are selling to benefit African charities. According to their final post of just a few days ago, they feel much closer as a family and now see life at home with new eyes. Kudos to them for being an example to us!
6. Where the hell is Matt? – Matt first quit his job and traveled around the world in 2003. The homemade “dancing” video he posted on YouTube was so successful that Stride gum sponsored him to go around the world again and film himself dancing in even more exotic locales. I can’t stop watching his video. And who knows, maybe some generous sponsor will catch the Andrus fever and send us traveling again and again and again… (For more on Matt or to watch his video, see my previous post, That’s Definitely Not Crumping.)
Of course, the presumption here is that sixintheworld.com is your favorite travel-related site and will continue to be for at least the next year. If it isn’t, how ’bout you just pretend. No one will know the difference.