So we’ve been traveling for almost 3 months now. . . . and we’re approaching the 2 month mark since we left the United States. If you’ve been an avid reader of our blog, you may have noticed that all the posts have been from me, BreAnn. Sure, the posts I write are ABOUT James and I, but you never get to actually read what’s on James’ mind.
SO… I thought it might be nice to come up with a list of questions and “interview” James on his thoughts about the trip and such . . .
BREANN QUESTION 1: Have you ever thought about planning or taking a RTW trip like this in the past?
JAMES: I thought I would do it when I was older after my hypothetical children went off to college and I was in retirement. However, after seeing more people reach their 60s and 70s and have the money to be able to do the trip, but not have as much energy or financial freedom, I realized BreAnn’s travel proposal to do this now was a good one. If I went on this trip during my retirement, I would have a mortgage payment and parental responsibilities versus now when I can simply give up my apartment throw a few boxes into a storage unit. That was enough of a financial incentive to do this now. I also presume I have a lot more energy in my 20s to see more things in less time than I will later in life.
BREANN QUESTION 2: During the packing process and leaving Los Angeles, what was going through your mind?
JAMES: Stress…stress…stress…and then: FREEDOM! It took a month to pack up my life and hit the road. What stuff can I sell on craigslist and what do I store? How do I sell my car? How do I suspend my cell phone plan? How do I get the extended dose of malaria medication I need before I suspend my domestic health insurance? Which backpack should I buy to contain all of my personal belongs for the next year of my life? And then, after the huge checklist of what needed to get done was accomplished, where do we actually want to go on the trip? AHH!!! STRESS!!! Finally, after weeks of hard work and sometimes doubt, we somehow managed to accomplish all of the necessities and there was an overwhelming feeling of relief for me when we hit the road and I knew that 1) I didn’t have to work on anyone’s schedule but my own for a year, 2) we had absolute freedom to go wherever we wanted to go in the world, and 3) the life-long dream of taking a trip like this was now a reality. It was the most free I have felt in my life.
BREANN QUESTION 3: Before leaving the US, what city or location were you most excited to visit during this upcoming RTW trip?
JAMES: It’s a tie between the Great Wall of China, diving in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Taj Mahal in India, and the ancient pyramids in Egypt. I’m excited for them all.
BREANN QUESTION 4: Before leaving the US, what city or location were you least excited to visit during this upcoming RTW trip?
JAMES: To be honest, I was excited about ALL of the places we planned to visit, simply becuase they were all new to me. Granted, the bitter cold of Wisconsin in February was never really appealing to this California native, but BreAnn’s mom always had an abundance of heating pads waiting for me so I did just fine. (Thanks, Sandy!)
BREANN QUESTION 5: You have never had such a long break from work or school in your whole life (3 months), how are you feeling about it all right now?
JAMES: Yes, I haven’t had this much time off since summers in elementary school when, ironically, I also spent a lot of time playing video games and being outdoors. I read a quote just recently that said, “When you are young, the years are long and the days are short. Now, as an adult, the years are short and the days are long.” It’s amazing how quickly the last five years since college have flown by and how I just remember dark editing room after dark editing room for a reference in time. This trip has allowed me to reflect upon what is really important in life and what I want to do in the future.
BREANN QUESTION 6: What has been the biggest challenge so far on this trip that you didn’t anticipate?
JAMES: Well, most people that know me well will attest that I hate wasting time. I usually frame my day-to-day actions around how I can accomplish a task as quickly and efficiently as possible so that I can move onto other things. The most relaxing time for me is when I have nothing on my mind and nothing to do, but be creative. In my old life, things like food, shelter, and laundry came second to creativity. Now…almost every day is spent finding something to eat within our budget, figuring where we are going to sleep a week from now, and other mundane tasks that take FOREVER. I thought I was literally going to explode with frustration the first time I did laundry outdoors by hand on week two of our RTW trip. Instead of clearing out my DVR for an hour and a half while pausing to switch loads; I had to scrub each article of clothing individually over the course of two hours and hang them on a clothes line…only to have them still smell pretty nasty after checking on them four hours later. So I guess a change in my hierarchy of needs has been the most challenging, but it has gotten better with time and practice.
BREANN QUESTION 7: So far, what do you miss the most?
JAMES: Besides a washer and dryer? I miss the comfort of home and being around close friends. There are moments when having a beer with my friends Marty, Patrick, or Steve sounds like a lot of fun. I feel very grateful to have this opportunity, but new traditions, customs, environments, and people can also be exhausting sometimes. For example, Chinese people don’t really supply toilet paper and you are expected to buy and carry it around on your own (as if finding food and shelter wasn’t hard enough). Finally, like I said, our accommodations don’t always feel like home. As BreAnn interviews me right now, I’m trying to ignore the typical “Chinese bathroom sewage smell” and we have killed three bees that have invaded our hostel room and now realize we may have a problem. Plus, I can’t waste our toilet paper to kill them! Sigh…a good cup of coffee in my insect-free apartment back in Glendale sounds great sometimes…
BREANN QUESTION 8: What has been the best experience or memory on the trip so far?
JAMES: Tahiti and Japan have been highlights for me for different reasons. Gazing up at endless stars in the over-water bungalows on Moorea Island was beyond relaxing and felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Likewise, immersing myself in a completely different culture on our visit to Japan and feeling totally comfortable was memorable as well. Even though I couldn’t speak or read any Japanese, the people there tried to help BreAnn and I in our search for sight-seeing (as well as food and shelter). My experience in Japan definitely opened my eyes as to how it must feel for some foreigners in the U.S. trying to survive as I have been the last few months.
BREANN QUESTION 9: What new foreign food(s) have you tried in the past two months that you really liked?
JAMES: Fried octopus in Japan was pretty good. I really liked most of the chicken skewers there as well expect for the liver one that I assumed was beef. Probably not going to do that again.
BREANN QUESTION 10: What item(s) that you packed for the trip have really been the most useful so far?
JAMES: Face mask and ear plugs. No matter what is going on around me on a plane or in a youth hostel, those two items allow me to sleep like a baby. In addition, my smart phone has really helped us on the go.
BREANN QUESTION 11: Any other general comments you’d like to make?
JAMES: It’s tough sometimes, but it is totally worth it.
To see all photos from our RTW trip so far, click here.
To see videos from our RTW trip so far, click here.