In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Rory, who’s currently making a bona fide round the world (RTW) trip and blogging about it on Traveling Round the World. He’s got some true off the beaten path destinations that he’s visited like Tibet, Nepal and Iceland. And, he’s still going strong.
1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
I’m currently parked in Shenzhen, China which is right next to Hong Kong and surviving on a steady supply of rice and noodles everyday.
2. Your site seems to have two names, Traveling Round the World and Where the Hell Is Rory. Do you have a tough time making decisions?
Yes I do struggle with decisions! I actually wanted a good name to describe what my site is about and to be Google friendly, thus “Traveling Round The World” was born. However, I wanted an easier name for my friends and family to remember while following my blog and thus came up with Where The Hell is Rory” however the name “Traveling Round the World” actually answers that question so it works out pretty good…
3. You wrote not long after you left, that you’ve been meeting people pretty easily. Are you that social, or is it easier than you thought? Any tips for people that are shy?
I wouldn’t say that I’m the most social person in the world. When I started out, the first couple days were a bit tough and lonely but after meeting a couple people in hostels, planes and trains, I started getting into the solo-backpacking groove of meeting fellow travelers. For advice on meeting others, just smile and be the first to say hello. Be curious about where they are from, where they have traveled so far or what their future travel plans are. It’s a great ice-breaker for conversation and you may just find out that they came from the same place you just did or are traveling in the same direction as you and they may ask if you are interested in traveling together.
4. You’ve mixed up going to some more frequently visited countries like Spain to heading way off the path to places like Mongolia. Do you like the change or do you have a preference for one type of country over another?
I had actually backpacked through Western Europe and parts of Eastern Europe before when I was younger though I didn’t have quite as much time to travel at the time and wanted to travel to other places. For this RTW trip, my desire was really to see not only the more popular destinations such as Istanbul, Beijing and Berlin but I really wanted to get off the tourist track a bit and see some less popular places such as my travels through Iceland, Morocco, Russia, India and Mongolia. There were of course still travelers in these places but most of these just aren’t notorious destinations that most people think about when deciding to travel abroad. And I must say, my travels in those countries (in addition to Nepal and Tibet) have impacted me the most and left with me with the most memorable experiences and stories to tell.
5. I loved the Lost in Translation part of your site. What’s your favorite bad translation? (Please send a photo of it)
This is a tough one! If I had to narrow my choices, they would all stem from my travels through China. The funniest (and most confusing) seemed to be in all the restaurants that actually had English translations on the menu. This one below had me baffled… I just couldn’t quite figure out what a “Urine Cow Pill” was though I wasn’t about it order it!
6. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?
My travels around the world has really been a dream of mine that I’ve been looking to fulfill for almost 10 years. After originally backing Europe after graduating from college, I had always had the desire to return to the freedom and lifestyle that travel provides and I had so many things on my ‘bucket list’ that I just didn’t want to wait until retirement to see and experience as so many others do in my own country. So basically, it was a bit of all three… a career break in which I planned to travel at least a year, a nomadic adventure in the fact that I would remain flexible during my trip and venture into unplanned territory and also a backpacking experience (even though I wasn’t the typical aged ‘backpacker’ out of school). And so far, after almost 12 months of travel, I have no regrets on my decision to leave and haven’t looked back since.
7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?
Travel really isn’t as expensive as most people think it is. And this doesn’t just mean traveling on the cheap in Nepal, India and Southeast Asia. I was able to travel throughout Europe on the cheap including travel through Iceland and Russia. There are ways you can plan your trip before leaving to minimize costs as well as many ways to travel within each country to stay within an ideal backpackers budget. This can include everything from accumulating frequent flyer miles before leaving or obtaining a buddy pass from a friend in the airline industry to avoiding fees for lodging and ATM usage as well as tricks to save on tours and food. Another common misperception is that travel can be dangerous in certain cities or countries however, aside from the occasional pickpocket, I have yet to encounter any dangerous areas so far through 20+ countries and countless cities. I would’t suggest travel to places like Somalia but for the most part, the world is no more dangerous than your own backyard.
8. What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment on this trip?
Love the question! Even though travel was a bit crazy through China and Nepal, when I got to India, my travels had hit a pinnacle on the craziness scale! It’s ironic to ask too because I actually said those exact words while walking down the streets of Agra on my second day in India. Walking through some of the streets was almost like one of those really random dreams you might have every so often. You want an example? OK. Picture walking down the street, horns from Tuk Tuk drivers blaring as the race past you, people pushing food carts into oncoming traffic, locals yelling at you to come ‘have a look’ inside there store as you pass by, monkeys on rooftops throwing stuff down into the streets, cows hanging out in the alleyways eating empty milk cartons on the ground (ironic?), smells from the streets that sting your nostrils, a 45 yr old man pissing in a gutter off to your right, a lady to your left arguing furiously with her kids, and as you try to cross the street, a pack of camels come charging down the road carrying passengers and as you turn around behind you, off in the distance, you see a couple elephants shuttling tourists around at a nearby attraction. Crazy, intense, but awesome nonetheless.
9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
This is a another tough one… but I’d have to say it was my time spent in Northern Iceland in a small town called Myvatn. I was with a friend I’d met in Iceland that wanted to travel the Ring Road with me around the country. We had found ourself on our 4th night in this small town of Myvatn going to a geo-thermal pool which few tourists have probably never ventured to as so many stay in the area of Reykjavik, Iceland’s only city. I just remember sitting in that pool that evening, staring at the stars and surrounded by about 10 Icelandic locals that probably enjoy their time at that pool a few times a week. At that point, I realized just how remote it was to be in this place at the time and it was a great feeling.
10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Lets see… aside from getting lost a million times and also almost ending up on the wrong plane, I would have to say it was probably when I was Yekaterinburg, Russia. I was in the train station and had just gotten some snacks while walking into a room with waiting passengers and trying to find a place to park myself for the next hour as I waited on my train. As I walked through the doors, there were two security guards though I hadn’t paid them any attention as I entered the room. From behind me, I heard someone calling out in Russian but having not understood any Russian at the time, I paid no attention. Well, about 20 seconds later, I heard repeated screaming in my direction. I finally turned around, noticed the guard yelling at me as he approached and as I looked around the room, more than 100 people were staring at me. To this day, I have no idea what it was all about! As I was escorted out of the room, you could have heard a pin drop at the time and was a bit uncomfortable to say the least.
11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Pace yourself. The last thing you want to do on any trip, whether its one week or one year is to continually rush from one place to the next. And every time you travel from point A to B is what will end up costing you the most money during your trip. So take time to enjoy each and every place you visit. Spend 2-3 days at minimum and don’t rush. You will save more money this way but more importantly, you will get more out of your travels by understanding more of the culture and having a more enjoyable experience. So don’t rush and if you’re out on a long term trip, say more than 5 or 6 months, take a vacation from your vacation. For me, after 6 months on the road, I chose to spend 3 weeks on the beaches of Goa, India to do absolutely nothing but sit on the beach. It was well worth it and restored my energy to hit the road again after that needed break.
13. Finally, our lightening round.
- Best dish you’ve found so far: Tapas in Tarifa, Spain
- Most exotic food eaten: Mongolian Great Energy Vitals Soup: Mutton heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and stomach!
- Most breathtaking moment: Dettifoss Waterfall in Iceland with a double rainbow off to my right on a sunny day
- Biggest disappointment: The Great Wall of China. We picked the foggiest day to go and could only see about 10 feet in front of us!
- Most memorable place: My travel through Tibet and onward to Mt. Everest
- Most memorable person: A friendly 75 year old lady that walked me 4 miles to find my hostel in Moscow, Russia
- Best thing to have on a long bus ride: An iPad with games, music and a 10 hour battery life
- Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: Food poisoning you received from a street vendor right before getting on!
- Best thing you packed: My Olu Kai flip flops
- Dumbest thing you packed: 2 computers (one netbook and one iPad)
- Funniest travel habit you have: Taking a picture of every place I stay
- Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: Iceland – One week was not enough!
Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit. These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.
Tags: Who´s Out There Now