A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Posts from — June 2008

Comings and Goings

It’s become habit.

Each morning I log on to my computer to check for dispatches from the dozen or so families and travelers I have been tracking around the world.

RSS reports arrive from far-flung places like Puerto Montt, Tokyo, Cairns, Siem Reap, Cappadocia and Durban. Each post brings a new adventure, a new lesson or a new idea for a place to explore.

As our departure date approaches (under a month), I’ve started to think more and more about these travelers, where they are in the arc of their journeys, and where they are headed next.

Some are heading home, others just starting.

Below I’ve listed a few of the blogs I’ve been tracking. They are the perfect distraction if you are looking for travel information, inspiration, or an interesting story.

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June 25, 2008   16 Comments

Fear of Flying


No. It’s not what you think.

But insects – the flying kind that buzz and click and clumsily bump into you – cause a knee-jerk, gut-level, stone-cold panic in me.

Once, driving my Miata on a curvy parkway at night, a huge, loud cicada dropped onto the dash and if it weren’t for Craig grabbing the wheel as I flailed and screamed, I don’t think I’d be here writing this.

The sight of an approaching bee (or sometimes even a large lumbering fly) has had me tossing a full picnic plate in the air, sprinting for safer ground.

At an outdoor coffee shop, I leapt into the lap of our teenage babysitter when a big bug dove toward our table. Another time I tore off my T-shirt at a campsite when, minding my own business, I wandered into a swarm of yellow jackets.

The summer of 2004 was almost the end of me as thousands of cicada larvae in our region pushed through the ground to adulthood and dried out their wings to fly around for a few weeks. I still have nightmares thinking about their enormous orange eyes and the crazy clacking sound they make.

My friend Martha got married outdoors 17 years ago during the previous cicada invasion. She tells a story about the ceremony: Industrial lawn vacuums sucked up the bug corpses that littered the lawn before the wedding. Later, at the reception, ladies’ hats and hairdos were made macabre by the ancient creepy creatures, their legs tangled in tulle and chignons.

I added this image to my ever-growing list of bug horrors.

It has occurred to me that possibly, just maybe, there might be a few flying insects along the way as we travel around the world. Some, perhaps, in the Amazon; a couple more in Australia… could there be any in Southeast Asia?

As I considered how to deal with my “issue”, I found a very helpful post at Women On The Road, a great travel site for women.

The author suggests that maintaining a sense of denial about your fears and assuming that you can work it out in the moment is definitely NOT the best strategy. “The worst thing you can do is keep pushing forward while ignoring your travel phobias or thinking they’ll simply disappear.”

Craig is afraid I’ll jump off a cliff or out of a moving bus if surprised by a buzzing flyer. So, I suppose I’ll call the Ross Center for Anxiety Disorders after all and ask for an intense session sometime before our departure.

But I think I could resolve the whole problem most easily by purchasing one additional item of travel clothing: The Bug Suit. I would look really good in this – and no doubt, it would be the calmest you’ll ever see me in the great outdoors.

bug suit

June 18, 2008   4 Comments

Father’s Day

Layered Fields

My father was 51 when he died.

In the year after his death, he appeared to me regularly in vivid dreams. But one day he stopped appearing; later I stopped dreaming all together.

A few weeks ago, after nearly twenty years, he reappeared in a dream:

I was on a bus. Something like a school bus. My father, my brother, me.

I was sitting next to my father — his younger, healthier self. My brother was in the seat in front of us.

My father and I were arguing about something. I’m not sure what. I was getting more and more frustrated. I couldn’t get him to understand or agree with me.

Finally, exasperated, I got up. I moved several seats ahead and sat staring out the window at a field that stretched on forever.

The bus rolled on and on.

After a while my father moved forward, sat down beside me, put his hand on my shoulder. We looked each other in the eye, but neither said a word.

We rode on together, through the fields, in silence.

And I, still dreaming, found comfort in that.

June 15, 2008   2 Comments

The End of the Beginning

A new American Idol was crowned. The LOST season finale has come and gone. The long wait for Indiana Jones 4 is over. And the Democrat primaries have produced a worthy nominee.

The first half of the year simply disappeared.

Now, with Caroline completing middle school and Conor finishing elementary school, we have arrived at the end of the beginning of our adventure.

Last week a friend advised me, quite rightly, to stop planning. No more surfing the Internet late at night, checking bus schedules from Iguazu Falls to Salta, Argentina.

No, there are more immediate concerns, like getting a rental property insurance rider for our house and renewing my driver’s license.

But before we focus fully on final preparations, Dani and I wanted to congratulate Caroline and Conor for successfully navigating the many hazards of another school year.

These were particularly emotional promotion ceremonies, and we offer our sincere thanks to the very dedicated teachers who have taught our children over the past nine years.

Conor Graduation

Caroline Graduation

June 13, 2008   5 Comments

Let’s Get Social

A story that I hope doesn’t turn into a metaphor for a couple of aging boomers blogging their way around the world:

Recently a friend was bar-hopping in Georgetown, a trendy neighborhood in Washington, D.C. It’s the kind of place you could find yourself in a restaurant or bar sitting next to a second-tier actor, a reality TV star, a cable news pundit or a Congressman who should be home with his wife and kids.

On the night in question my friend was in and out of bars filled with young people. Though nearly 50, he felt younger as the night wore on. I’m sure it was the atmosphere, the company, the drinks. Okay, maybe it was the drinks.

It was getting late, people were pairing off and heading home, and soon my friend found himself chatting with a very attractive bartender. He was on his game. And though the bartender was considerably younger, he could feel the connection.

When closing time came he decided to make his move. The beautiful bartender brought his bill. He started to speak; he wasn’t slurring his words too badly.

Before he could finish his illicit thought, the bartender took his hand, looked him in the eye, and said very directly: “You old guys never know when to go home.”

Sometimes, when I’m exploring a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, I feel like my friend must have felt that night. There’s this great party going on, and people at the party will let you hang around, but really, you’re too old to be there and shouldn’t you be home anyway?

So what is this “social web,” “social networking,” and “social media” – and what does it have to do with a travel blog?

Quite a lot, I’m finding. A significant percentage of The Wide Wide World’s traffic now comes from communities on the web where we have a presence.

Here’s a quick roundup.

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June 10, 2008   3 Comments

Ticket to Ride


Nearly a week had passed, and still no tickets in the mail. I was mildly concerned: I knew significant OneWorld fare changes went into effect June 1 and I didn’t want any snafus.

When I called the OneWorld round-the-world desk the ticket agent assured me all was in order: “These tickets take time,” she said. “They have to be handwritten.”

Made sense to me. Certainly no two are alike. Still I assumed she meant they had to be individually assembled.

But no, she meant they needed to be handwritten. I hadn’t seen an airline ticket like this in 25 years!

In addition to changing fare rules, as of June 1 OneWorld is moving to e-tickets for its round-the-world tickets. More convenient to be sure, but somehow not quite as romantic.

June 6, 2008   5 Comments

Underneath It All


My girlfriends all want to know: How many pairs of underwear am I taking on our around-the-world journey?

In my whole life, including all the slumber parties I attended as a girl and lingerie-themed wedding showers over the years, I have never talked so much about panties as I have in the last month.

In making a packing list for the trip, I began to understand the obsession with underwear. We’ve got to pack light because we intend to carry our belongings onto the plane, so every item we can delete from the packing list is a bonus.

Plus, lugging big bundles of clothes, cameras, computers, and books up arduous hillside trails to get to the family hostels we’ve booked won’t be easy. (In my imagination, the accommodations are always up arduous hillside trails…)

All along, I hadn’t worried about underwear heavying up the load. A few handfuls wouldn’t take up that much room, right? And what could be more important than a clean foundation?

But seeing everything actually stacked up and laid out for packing is alarming. Even the tiny mountain of cotton briefs can’t be entirely justified. For help, I turned to what has become our travel guru — the BootsnAll website.

On the BootsnAll discussion boards expert travelers debate underwear strategy in detail: I read about favorite brands, the pros and cons of cotton, and whether to go with thongs (that’s a no) or a modest boxer style to make “quick, public changes of clothes go more smoothly.” (Yikes!)

I have learned that, as with technological leaps in electronics, there has been great progress in underwear technology. We are advised to avoid, for this kind of journey, our dungarees and cotton clothing that could take hours and hours to dry on makeshift laundry racks and clotheslines.

Instead, experienced travelers buy cleverly engineered cloth that wicks moisture (essential for those hot days), offers sun protection (not as critical in undergarments to be sure), has odor control (a definite plus), and is made from recycled fibers (gotta be green!).

The other day my friend Laura gave me the perfect gift, a product that makes the following pitch:

“Seasoned travelers save room by packing just one or two pairs of our underwear. They wash one at night and wear the other. Great fit and comfort in the most important layer you will put on.”


Call me old-fashioned: I’m opting for two!

June 1, 2008   16 Comments

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