FAQ: 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Here are some thought-provoking (?) questions I've received from readers during my travels, along with my thought-provoking (?) replies.

 

Why did you take this trip?

For several reasons. 

  • I wanted to learn more about my family's history in America and from where I came.

  •  Regarding Australia, I've wanted to visit the country ever since I was five years old and first heard the song "Waltzing Matilda."  Also, I like wide-open spaces.  Regarding New Zealand, heck, who doesn't want to go there?

  • I'd been working pretty hard at my job with the engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff in Portland during the past few years and I was getting tired of spending endless all-nighters and weekends in the office.

  • I've been wanting to learn web design for several years and figured this would be a great opportunity.  Also, I hate winter.  By going to the southern hemisphere in December and coming back in April, I'll have three summers in a row!

  • Last year I was diagnosed -- incorrectly, as it turned out -- with cancer.  I was really ticked off after hearing the diagnosis because I'd always wanted to visit Australia.  But then, when the doctors later gave me a clean bill of health, I decided to go for it.  There's no time like the present.

  • I wanted to inspire others to break out of their "comfort zones."  Maybe not everyone is ready to quit their job and go traveling around the world for 18 months like I have.  But hopefully by reading my website they'll be a bit more inspired to try new things in life -- like putting hot sauce on pizza.  Try it, it's great!

Don't you get lonely traveling alone?

Not very often.  I've always enjoyed being on my own and have never understood the hesitations some people have about doing things alone, such as traveling, shopping, jogging, or going to movies.  Besides, I meet terrific people almost every day -- mostly because I AM traveling alone and am, I suppose, more approachable.  My website and the e-mails I get from friends, relatives, and Googlers have made me feel a lot more connected with everyone, so I've hardly ever gotten lonely on my trip.

 

As the comic strip "B.C." once put it:  The difference between "being alone" and "being lonely" is that being alone is usually by your choice, while being lonely is usually by theirs.  I clipped out that strip and carried it in my wallet for years.

How can you afford to travel for a year?

Two words:  "bagel" and "apple."  For the past 10 years while working at PB, I ate a bagel and an apple every day for lunch.  While my colleagues went out every day and spent $10 or so for lunch, I ate a bagel and an apple at my desk.  Add it up over 10 years and that's some serious savings.

 

It's more complicated than that, but that's the basic idea.  I believe in simplicity and think there are more important things in life than driving an expensive car or living in a big (and then a bigger) house.  A lot of folks are never content with the money or possessions they have.  Check out the Hearst Mansion in California if you want proof, or just look around your neighborhood.  While I don't think people should live in caves, I do believe in simplicity, that less is more, and that possessions don't always equate to a higher quality of life.  I also believe that many of us get caught up in the "I-work-to-buy-more-stuff" rut.  I know, my type of thinking is blasphemous in our consumeristic, capitalistic society, but I've never really cared what other people think of me.

 

I always apply the concept of simplicity to my travels.  For instance, I prefer to stay in campgrounds instead of fancy, expensive resorts -- not only because they're cheaper, but also because I enjoy reconnecting with nature.  That philosophy of "less is more" is what travel guru, Rick Steves, calls "traveling through the back door."  It means you can have a more fulfilling travel experience and spend less money, to boot.

What do you usually eat when you're traveling?

Kids, don't try this at home:  But for breakfast, I usually have Krispy Kreme donuts, Oreo cookies and Diet Pepsi.  Lunch usually involves Nacho Doritos and Diet Pepsi.  Dinner is usually bratwurst and beans... and yes, more Diet Pepsi.  With a diet like that, it's amazing I'm still alive.  But it works for me!

How much will your trip cost?

I don't have a specific budget set aside for this trip.  In fact, I'm not even sure how long this trip will last.  I'll probably travel for about 18 months (from the spring of 2001 to the fall of 2002), but my trip may end sooner or perhaps extend beyond that.  It depends on whether I get tired of traveling and how soon I want to go back to work.  It also depends on how much money I decide to spend.  By traveling simply, I'm able to stretch out my budget.

 

During my U.S. trip, I've been aiming for a budget of about $40 per day for everything, including lodging, food, gas, and souvenirs.  From previous trips, I've learned that I can travel comfortably on that budget but it's not a big deal if I go over that.  Not including airfare, I think my daily budget for my four months in Australia and New Zealand will be a little less than that, thanks largely to the strong U.S. dollar.

How come you're not married?

It's simple:  Any woman who'd want to marry me would have to be crazy, and I don't want to marry someone who's crazy.