Is Technology Good or Bad For Travelers?

Is Technology Good or Bad For Travelers?

When a young traveler first begins to picture a backpacking trip around the world, their mind conjures images of dog-eared guidebooks, dusty and undiscovered pathways through landscapes previously only imagined, and a growing sense of the unknown slowly morphing into the known, for the more they will navigate the world, the more their viewpoints will change. Buses packed with locals and chickens on incorrect schedules, trying desperately to navigate their way from one city to another, and when they arrive, quizzing natives on which places they can stay for the night, only to find the accomodations filled with spiders or simply mattresses on the floor. They imagine the feeling of staring at a menu written entirely in a foreign language and simply pointing to an item and hoping for something less than disgusting to come from the kitchen, and if they’re lucky, they’ll have something delicious they can tell their friends about. They picture Jack Kerouac. Hunter S. Thompson. Jane Goodall. This is what backpacking looks like. And that was the case. 

Thirty years ago. 

Or twenty years ago.

Or maybe even as recently as ten years ago. 

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The Best Meal We Ate In Europe

The Best Meal We Ate In Europe

We struggle every day with the question of where to eat. Ultimately, we usually end up pulling what we lovingly refer to as a "Classic Josh And Renee", which refers to the process of agonizing over a menu at a restaurant that looks as if we will really enjoy it, deciding that there is probably a better meal to be eaten somewhere else, wandering around for twenty minutes, and then deciding to eat at the next place that serves food because we are sick of looking. Then we extoll the virtues of the hypothetical eatery we should have chosen had we been better people. Funnily enough, this is a very similar story to how two of our friends got married, but that's a story for another blog.

While we were in Lyon, France, we were lucky enough to not pull a CJAR (That's a Classic Josh And Renee if you skipped the first paragraph, which is a weird way to read a blog, but it's your world). We essentially had one day to spend in the "Belly Of France", and since it has been established that we lead with our stomachs when deciding daily activities, we knew we had to nail both our lunch and dinner choice. In the end, we only needed to make one choice, because Comptoir Du Vin was the only meal we ate that day. We wanted to leave Lyon with the memory of that food on our lips. 

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What To Pack For A Year Long Trip Around The World

What To Pack For A Year Long Trip Around The World

OK, so this post is going to get a little Pinterest-y, as if you couldn't tell by the picture already. Plus, it's going to rely on my absolute favorite style of writing: Bulleted lists where I write small blurbs! No need to write complete sentences, let alone even full paragraphs! Except of course, for the next two paragraph, which will be full of complete sentences. Hope you enjoy both subjects and predicates, because you're gonna get both of them. In spades!

This is by no means a list which will be set in stone. More than likely, we will be subbing out clothing/items as we move through the trip, moving in and out of climates. Most of the items will make it the whole year (I'm looking at you, both Cam Newton T-Shirts), but a couple of things were intended to not make it. I am sure that we will find in three months that we've packed too much and we didn't end up using the headphone splitter at all. But that'll be something we find out together, so let's go.

First things first, before we get to the list (UGH, I am so sick of all this punctuation), we're utilizing the Tortuga Backpacks, it's perfect for us, as it's designed for traveling; most backpacking packs are designed to hike for months in the wilderness, but we need a bag with lots of pockets for bluetooth speakers to jam the Humpty Dance through. Also, apologies in advance, my list will be a little bit more thorough than Renee's, as I just finished packing, and I'm the one writing this. Enough with the sentences and paragraphs, let's get to the list!

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Which Credit Cards We Have For A Trip Around The World

Which Credit Cards We Have For A Trip Around The World

I've had a lot of questions the past few weeks about why there haven't been any entries since we were in Virginia Wine Country, and the truth is, there hasn't been a whole lot to write about. We've been spending the past month in Charlotte, North Carolina living with my mother, preparing for our trip, which is officially starting on April 25th when we fly from Boston to Reykjavik, but truthfully, our travels will begin in earnest next Saturday morning when I fly to Chicago for three nights to visit two of my buddies from college, then on to Denver to spend a few days with Renee's family, and on to Boston for two nights because we are new at this traveling thing and didn't realize when our flight was to Reykjavik. Whoops!

How have we been preparing, you ask?

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So Many Questions I Will Try To Answer

So Many Questions I Will Try To Answer

So we'll start with an apology. I jumped the gun and decided to begin telling my story the night before I quit my job, instead of beginning with some sort of trite story about our first flight from New York to London. Here is a hypothetical snippet of said hypothetical story:

"She was nervous. Not for the months to come, but simply for the minutes:  the takeoff of our first international flight was bumpy. There wasn't enough Xanax in her purse to keep her from yelping when one of the overhead compartments burst open, spilling our Tortuga backpacks into the aisle. As the bell tolled to alert us that we had reached our cruising altitude, the ride became smoother. She looked at me. I looked at her. We were off, and there were clear skies ahead."

I have to apologize for not giving you that moment (although we may get there in about six weeks), and for leaving you wondering what has been happening for seventeen days, so let me give you a synopsis. 

I quit. The discussions happened quickly and were relatively painless. The reactions were, and continue to be some amalgamation of the following questions and statements:  "What!? Where are you going? When are you leaving? Where are you going to stay? You're going to be gone for how long? Did you get your shots?  Holy shit, I am so jealous.  I wish I could do that!" So let's answer those questions one by one, for both the folks asking me constantly at work (I'm looking at you, Keisha James) and for the readers at home. 

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Why Are We Going?

Tomorrow I will quit my job. It will be terrifying, to say the least, and as someone who has been gainfully employed for almost the entirety of the last fifteen years, with the only gaps coming due to youthful indiscretions (Yes, I'm thinking of the time I got fired from On The Border for blowing off a Monday night shift in order to watch a Panthers game they would eventually go on to lose) of my past. I will be alerting my boss lady of my intentions exactly four days before my ten year anniversary at this very large hotel chain, and I am more than certain she will be unhappy. I am good at my job, and I am sure that I will be missed. But the show will go on, the hotel will not close, invoices will be paid and guests will be happy or sad depending on their mood and experience. I very well could have stayed, and most likely would be up for a promotion in the next few months, which I would gladly take and slowly work my way up the corporate ladder. My wife of a year would eventually get pregnant, and we would move from a studio to a one bedroom to a small ranch outside of Charlottesville or Denver or Asheville or wherever we would choose to go.  All of that would have been great, and I was excited about the windy and long road that my life was going to speed down, although at times it seemed as if I was creeping down it barely reaching the speed limit. Time flies when you're having fun, but I more think time flies when you're looking back. Time moves slow in the future, and runs roughshod in the past. I was excited about the future. And then I saw this book in the gift shop of The Met while waiting for my Mom to pick out a supremely overpriced canvas bag with the Mona Lisa on it (Why was she buying this in the first place? The Mona Lisa isn't even at the Met. Come on Mom.)

 

 Seems like a pretty innocuous cover, and a pretty innocent book. But it sparked questions in me. Why can't I visit those islands? How many islands are there I will never see? How many places I will never get to see, touch, hear, smell?  All of them? That doesn't seem fair.

Do not be confused, I've traveled before. I've seen London. I've seen France. I've seen your mother's underpants (Sorry, the jokes won't get any better, I promise). I've spent two weeks in El Salvador and three months in Israel. I've been in awe of Pompeii in Italy and taken aback by the beauty of The Columbia River Gorge  in Washington State. But it wasn't enough.  I'm greedy, and I'm lucky enough to have married an absolutely beautiful woman who shares both my spirit for wanderlust and my greed for life experiences. I returned home from The Met and promptly asked her if she would be interested in taking a year off from working and traveling the world.

She said yes.

So we started planning. How did we plan, you ask? It was easy. We bantered back and forth about the things in the world we wanted to see. Nothing was off limits. The Pyramids. Taj Mahal. Easter Island. Macchu Pichu. Madagascar. The Amalfi Coast. Stonehenge. No destination was too outlandish, and no idea was turned down. Eventually we started formulating a plan. South America, then Southeast Asia with a stop in Easter Island to break up the trip, then India and Africa before finishing with a few months in Europe. That was the original plan that we came up with over brunch at La Pulperia on the Upper East Side of New York City. We would leave after her brother's wedding in September, and be gone about a year, maybe more, maybe less if we ran out of money. That was the original plan.

Obviously, things have changed since that original plan. We are now leaving New York City March 1st instead of September 1st. We are going to Europe first and India last, with our brother Caleb's wedding wedged solidly in the middle of the journey.   We keep adding destinations and altering itineraries, which I will assume we will continue to do until we are done. Yesterday, we added Morocco and booted Spain (Seemed more off the beaten path). Tonight, we may add Sri Lanka and remove Mumbai. There are literally endless paths we can take and many islands we can see. But all paths will start tomorrow. Once I ask Brian from Human Resources to close his office door, we are officially going. You can follow us. 

And yes, the title of the blog is a Friends reference. Won't be the last, I promise.