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To Go or Not to Go: Solo Backpacking

2010 May 16

Should I go, even if it’s by myself?

is one of the most common questions when it comes to a backpacking trip. Life has gotten so complicated that it has become very difficult to take a couple of months off and go travel the world. Trying to coordinate that with multiple people becomes nearly impossible. In many cases, friends will commit to a group trip only to have it fall apart because of jobs, school and whatever other reasons. In some cases, the tickets have been bought and the hotels booked.

So say that’s you. What are you supposed to do now? 2 months in a foreign country, with an incomprehensible language, thousands of miles from home, no familiarity with the culture, no idea where you’re going, not a single person you know, all… by… yourself???

In the poignant words of Phil Knight’s version of the Greek goddess of victory: Just do it.

This post is endorsed by Nike. Just kidding.

Don’t think, don’t hesitate, don’t wonder, don’t question. Just. Do. It.

Sometimes we all need a little nudge to get over the edge. Consider this your nudge. Because I promise you when all is said and done, and you look back on your trip, you’ll realize it was one of the best decisions of your life.

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Whoa, Freshly Pressed

2010 May 13
by Paul

I woke up this morning to find my inbox blowing up. Hope you guys are enjoying my blog!

As you can probably see, I just started this so expect a lot more posts about backpacking and travel in the future. Subscribe if you’d like, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t either.

While you’re at it, enjoy this:

Koh Tao, Thailand

5 Things Every Backpacker Should Do Before Leaving Home

2010 May 13

*If this is your first time here and you find this article useful, please subscribe to my RSS feed and check out the about page!*

Despite my recommendation to roll with it and plan as little as possible (on long trips), there are still some things that I do before every trip to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. The last thing you want to be doing while backpacking is to waste a day dealing with frozen bank accounts, canceling lost credit cards or dealing with some other BS.

You really want to waste time dealing with crap when you could be enjoying this?

Here are 5 things I do that have made my life a lot easier while traveling:

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Hot on the Inca Trail

2010 May 8

Cusco, Peru.

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you were genuinely happy and content with everything; where all your worries/anxieties/problems are a million miles away and you feel so light that you could fly away; where you say to yourself, “God damn, I’m glad to be alive right now.” ?

Sitting on the church steps on a sunny afternoon in Cusco’s plaza de armas was one of those moments for me. The open spaces, clean air, blue skies, cobblestone roads, narrow alleys and rolling hills of Cusco makes it one of my favorite places in the world.

Cusco, Peru.

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The Most Ridiculous Place on the Planet

2010 May 5

Vang Vieng, Laos.

WHAT. A. PLACE. Just hearing the name brings a smile to my face. The 4 days I spent there were quite possibly the 4 most outrageous days and nights in my life.

Anyone who’s been to Southeast Asia has heard of Vang Vieng. Anyone who’s been to SEA has probably also seen the throngs of backpackers wearing the “In the Tubing: Vang Vieng” tshirts. As tacky as they seem and as resistant as I was in getting one, there’s one sitting in my dresser two feet away from me right now because you realize you can’t leave Vang Vieng without taking a piece with you.

This picture pretty much sums up Vang Vieng.

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How I Traversed a Continent in 7 Weeks

2010 April 29

Step 1: Bought a ticket into Quito, Ecuador.

Step 2: Bought a ticket out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Step 3: Rode in lots and lots and lots of buses.

The end result:

View South America in a larger map

Oh South America, how I miss you so…

Never have I been to a place that is so wild and rugged yet is also so beautiful and elegant. From the craggy highlands of the Andes, through the barren deserts of Bolivia and Chile, to the pulsing beaches of Rio, South America had it all.

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Porcelain from Around the World

2010 April 28

A lot of people may not realize it, but we have it pretty good here in the United States. When you go to a public restroom, you can expect to find a clean (hopefully) toilet, stocked toilet paper and the sanitary seat covers. This “luxury” is, unfortunately, not available everywhere in the world.

I’ve seen/used some pretty gnarly toilets and almost all fall into one of the categories below:

Standard Seating – Go look in your bathroom, enough said. Rating: A

Seating with Hose – I found these primarily in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Gotta love those Thais.

It’s essentially a toilet with a hose connected to it. Kind of like the french contraptions where the little sink sprays water. Now the catch is, with these toilets, there is usually no toilet paper (for all the environmentalists out there). You do your business, spray and be done with it. Drawbacks include mis-sprays, wet boxers and possible water running down legs. The other thing to look out for is that the water pressure on the hoses can sometimes be very strong; an accidental enema could be feasible if one is not careful. These little sprayers take a while to get used to but by the end of the trip I couldn’t go without one. Maybe when I own a house someday, all of my toilets will be setup like this…

Grossed out? Think of it this way: if a bird shat on your head, would you wipe it off or wash your head? Genius. Rating: A++, once you master the art of the hose.

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