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I feel like every post we do starts off with, “sorry we’ve been gone for so long, we’ve just been busy!”  The truth is, we’ve been really busy!  We’re still saving like crazy and we still plan to depart on our big adventure next August!  Summer, in general, has always been a bit hectic for us, with all the birthdays and anniversaries in our family this time of year usually flies by.  Plus, Corey’s been working like crazy (with his real job & tile setting on weekends) and I’ve started a 52 week photo project.

Anyway, we wanted to share some of the things that have kept us motivated to accomplish this big dream!

1. The Lost Girls: this book features 3 girls, Jen, Amanda & Holly, from New York who quit their jobs and travel the world for a year.  Sound familiar?  Each chapter comes from a different point of view of one of the girls.  You learn about their struggles pre-trip and join the adventure as they try to figure out what they want to do with their lives.  A great read if you’re looking for something uplifting and fun! 

2. A Map for Saturday: a documentary about a young man, Brooke, also from New York, who also quits his job to travel around the world for a year.  This documentary focuses more on the other travellers that Brooke meets on the road and their journey.  It’s interesting to see who he meets while on the road: from a family who’s lost their home from the tsunami in Thailand to a 70 year old man travelling around the globe and sleeping in youth hostels!

3. 180 Degrees South: a documentary about a surfer/mountain climber, Jeff Johnson, who decides to follow in the foot steps of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, the founders of Patagonia Clothing and North Face respectively, in climbing a rarely ascended mountain, Corcovado in the Patagonia of Chile.  As with all journeys, this one is full mis-steps and set-backs. To us, this documentary inspires us to maybe step out of our comfort level and do things that we may not normally see ourselves doing.  Maybe even be a little more unconventional, using Johnson and friends attempt to sail from America to Chile as motivation.  Corey is deathly afraid of heights and even he became enamored with mountain climbing.

4. Motorcycle Diaries: is the true story of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and friend Alberto Granados’ attempt to travel by motorcycle up the spine of South America.  If Corey had to pick a favorite movie, this would be it.  Upon leaving for this trip, Ernesto is only a semester away from becoming a doctor.  As their adventurous trip comes to close
Ernesto knows that his life must move in  a much different direction.  We all know about his revolutionary future.  To us this film is a constant reminder of just how life altering a trip of this magnitude can be.  I don’t think we’ll end up becoming violent revolutionaries at trips end, but I do know that upon completion of our journey our lives will never be the same.

5. The Geography of Bliss: Eric Weiner, a veteran foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, decides to visit 10 of the so-called, happiest places on earth to see if he himself will find happiness.  This book had me smiling the whole time!  Some places he visits, we already had plans on going to and others that were only a thought are now on our itinerary.  It’s a great read if you’re looking for something to cheer you up & if you want to learn some interesting facts about some of the world’s most content places!

 

6. Long Way Round: a documentary about 2 actors, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, who travel through Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia to ride the Road of Bones through Siberia, over to Alaska, through Canada, North America and finished in New York on their motorcycles.  It’s a 20,000 mile journey with plenty of ups and downs along the way.  I was already a huge fan of Ewan McGregor, but this documentary shows you that not all actors are rich, snobby jerks.  Both man are likable and very relatable.  Four years later they documented their journey through Africa in the Long Way Down.

7. A desire to see the rest of the world!  We realize this isn’t a tangible item, but not a day goes by where we’re not thinking about our trip.  At this point, everything we do, every decision that is made, is directly correlated to our trip.  When making money decisions, we think to ourselves, “Is this going to help us go on our trip or set us back another day?”  I told that to a friend the other day and he said he could never think like that because he’d be mad at himself all the time.  My response is that we have to think like that if we really want to save enough to reach our goal.

Where do you guys look for inspiration & how do you stay motivated?

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I had an idea a few weeks back about what we can do when we meet people on the road who we’d like to keep in touch with.  I can’t wait to meet other travelers and hopefully be able to keep up with their travels, too!  If I feel like that, then they may feel the same way.  So, I created a little leave behind card.  It’s the same size as a business card, but with less information. 

Leave Behind

What do you guys think?  I’ve only printed a handful because I need some feedback.  Let’s take a vote:

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Almost every travel book, blog and message board that I have come across has suggested that bringing small gifts along is a great idea for your trip.  Whether you plan on doing homestays or not, it’s still good to have some trinket or memento that reflects who you are.  It shows respect for the people who let you stay in their home & appreciation for your fellow road mates.  Based solely on the experiences of other travelers I’ve seen a wide range of the type of gifts that people bring.  They seem to range anywhere from pens to key chains to cigarettes.  One guy, Erick Trinidad, even handed out a book that he helped write – of course he didn’t give that to every person he met on the road, but to the people who helped him along the way.

 Corey & I have discussed this briefly & the one thing that we both agreed upon was that we want it to have a personal touch, something that others may not think to give as a gift.  Don’t get me wrong, the gifts above are great, but we want to give something that might actually help people to remember us.  The gift can be given to someone who allows us to stay in their home, to a fellow traveler or even to some local kids. 

 So, what did we ultimately decide to hand out to our future acquaintances? 

 We both agreed that friendship bracelets/necklaces would be our main gift to give.  They’re small, light weight, easy to make & will give me something to do while we’re in commute on long train/bus rides.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t happy that someone gave me a friendship bracelet.  They have many uses: bracelet (duh!), zipper-pull, bookmark, hair tie, key chain accessory and the list goes on!  Plus, I’ve already got a stash in our apartment!  The only thing that Corey noticed is that I need to work on using more masculine colors.

 So, what do you think?  Would you want something like this as a keepsake?  Would you hate it?  To those of you who have done your trip already, what was your gift, if any?

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 We had our first couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org) experience last night.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, couchsurfing is a way to meet other people who share their love for traveling and adventure.  There are 2 ways to do that: either travel to someone’s home or be a host.  Hosting can be offering up your couch for someone to spend the night(s) or you can just meet up for drinks.  At some point I think we will change our user settings so that our couch is available, but right now it’s just on the “meet for coffee or drinks” setting.    

Pauline

 

  So, it all started a week ago when a girl sent me a message asking if I wanted to hang out while she was in town.  I took a look at her profile, saw her references & decided to have her over for dinner.  Pauline is a student from Belgium who decided to come to Wisconsin for a bit before going back to school in a couple of weeks.  She arrived on August 10th & has already seen & done more than I have living here for 3 years!   

Pauline & I

 

  We had a good time talking to her about travelling, photography, biking & the weird laws that Americans have.  One example: getting in trouble for having an open container in your car.  If this same scenario happened in Belgium, as long as you weren’t drinking & driving, you’d be free to go on your merry way.  Here you’d go to jail for the night.  We don’t drink at all, which I thought she would find strange.  But Pauline said that compared to her hometown, people here hardly drink.  I found that funny, because people drink so much more here (in the Milwaukee area) than they do in Raleigh!  Anyway, it was just really nice to meet someone who was so nice & happy to meet new people.  Pauline said that it was refreshing to meet many Americans & be able to see that we’re not all loud, obnoxious & ignorant.   Overall, we had a great time & I hope that we’re able to hang out with her again before she leaves!   

Pauline, me & Corey

 

So, we have taken our first baby steps into the world of couchsurfing.  Pauline already knew the family she was staying with & they were having such a hard time understanding why she would meet with strangers in place she hasn’t been to before.  I think that Americans are taught not to trust anybody & always keep your guard up.  I’m not saying that every person we will encounter won’t be dangerous, but not every stranger is a criminal either.  I definitely want to have a few more visits like this before we decide to have people over for a weekend or more.  But, we have to start somewhere & in order to meet people we’re going to need to be more social.  Wish us luck!

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