How many countries?
Twelve: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, England, Germany, India, Japan, USA (5 separate entries, 26 states), Iceland, Finland, Russia, Peru. I’m not counting transit countries (Turkey, UAE) or Canada, although I did some traveling in my home country, too.
- 14,000 kilometres driven in my car, plus quite a few in tour buses or vans
- 21 flights, 37 flight segments.
- 6 boat voyages
- 4 train trips
- 5500 photos taken
- 52 blog posts
What was your favourite country/place?
This is the most common question, and impossible to answer.
Are there places you would/wouldn’t go back to?
This one is a little easier. Egypt and Jordan were amazing, but once was enough. Finland I will always return to because of my heritage and family. I only saw a small part of India so would like to go back and see the north. I never tire of New York or London.
How long were you on the road?
Eight months out of the year. I interrupted the trip for two and a half months when I was selling my house and my other times at “home” varied from 4 days to one month.
Did you travel alone all the time?
My sisters went to Finland and Russia with me, I did Japan with a friend, and 11 days of the India trip were with a couple from England, whom I also stayed with most of my time in London. A couple of friends joined me for about a week each at different parts of my US road trip. The Middle East and Peru were on organized tours, but I didn’t know anyone (including my roommates) before the trips.
How did you decide where to go?
A few trips had been planned before– the Middle East was on my bucket list but not my husband’s so I made the plans for that while I was still married. Finland with my sisters had been talked about for years as something we would do when our mother died. We could then all be away at the same time, and it would be a memorial to her. A wedding brought me to England.
Japan, India, and skiing in Vermont happened when someone said “Do you want to…?” I had a few other suggestions that I couldn’t fit in! Peru came about when a planned trip to Nepal fell through due to a friend’s knee injury. It got me thinking about trips I was capable of now but might not be later.
Summer is a great time for a road trip, and a gathering in New Orleans plus the locations of friends and relatives set the path.
Did you get homesick?
Yes. But probably no more than I did when I was home.
What was the best/worst part?
The absolute best was the people I met. It might be short interactions: a comment to a young man in a small town in Jordan about his great haircut that led to general hilarity amongst his friends, and a conversation; the children in India, Japan and Peru who were thrilled when they could practice their newly learned English with me; a deep discussion of changes in faith and relationships with an Orthodox Jewish man in Jerusalem. I visited and reconnected with old friends. I made many new friends.
The worst was being sick in a strange place. There was always the kindness of strangers to help, though.
How much did it cost? (If you don’t mind me asking)
Not as much as I thought it would. With my belongings in a storage locker, for 8 months my living expenses were very low. You need to eat wherever you are, and most hotels include breakfast. I would have been spending money on entertainment at home. Tours may seem expensive up front but they include most everything. Often I stayed with friends or family, or shared accommodation, and I am very good at finding deals on hotels. And my “Swedish Death Cleaning” (What Stays and What Goes?) got rid of any desire to buy more things. With a few exceptions (a cartouche bracelet from Egypt, a print from Japan) my souvenirs were my memories and photographs.
I started the year with a certain amount of money in a travel account and vowed not to worry unless it was all gone. To my surprise, there is enough for another year. The most expensive trip was taking my children to Hawaii for Christmas; solo travel is not near as pricey!
Why? And/or Why now?
I’ve always loved to travel, and having just stopped teaching, I was planning a few not-on-school-holidays trips. Then when my husband left, I started to think, what could I do if I no longer had to compromise? Travel was the main thing that came to mind. And once I started, the momentum just kept adding destinations!
Where to in 2020?
Hmm. I promised myself I would stop and take stock in January (yes, I’m in the northeastern States right now, but this trip started in December) so I haven’t booked anything yet. I’m thinking England again in the spring, maybe the Arctic in the summer. I’d like to go stay somewhere for a month or two to improve my Spanish. I’ve never skied in Europe. I’m going to get home and breathe for a while first.
But I’m pretty sure there will be more brave travels.