Interpreting History

The kayaking trip that Jeff mentioned in the last post didn’t just involve paddling around tidal waters; it also came with some history lessons on the area in general and Sandy Island in specific. At one point, we all pulled up in our kayaks as our guide described how the area in which we were floating was once a rice-growing area managed by plantations where over 1,000 slaves were put to work. On one hand, it was interesting to learn a bit of history. On the other hand, we all agreed at the end of the trip that the way the history was presented made us feel a little bit uncomfortable. Our guide repeatedly stressed how well the slaves in this area were treated and how profitable the plantations were. There was maybe a brief aside acknowledging that slavery was, perhaps, not the best thing, but we all felt the guide was a little too sympathetic to this horrible part of our history. Hey, the plantations were turning an 8% profit, how could it be wrong?

It’s always tricky dealing with history in which there is an obvious winner and an obvious loser, an obvious bad and an obvious good. The first time I came across a memorial to fallen German soldiers while living in Freiburg, I spent some time staring at it uncertain as to how to interpret it. I mean, Germany was obviously the bad guy in this battle. How could they be memorializing their soldiers? I get a bit of the same feeling when I see Confederate war memorials. But then, if you take a moment to think about it, you realize that it’s not that simple. The fallen soldiers were husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, and they died fighting for something they believed in. Whether they simply believed in their country or in objectives that we find abhorrent (the annihilation of a race, slavery, etc.), we have no way of knowing. Whether they fought willingly, even exuberantly, or whether they were forced into battle, we also will never know. All we know are that these are men who went away to war and never came home. The facts are obscure, the history incomplete.

History is a funny thing. It seems it should be objective. This happened. Then this happened. Then because of this, this happened. But it’s not like that at all. Instead history is interpreted. The winners have their version. The losers have their version. The governments have their version. The people on the ground have their versions. There are individual histories and collective histories, private memories and public memories. And as time passes, the histories and memories merge and change. I find this process to be completely fascinating, and if I were ever to return to school it would be to study history and memory.

On our trip, we’re sure to have multiple experiences in which history is presented in ways that differ from what we know. Sometimes the facts will have been blatantly distorted. Other times the facts will be interpreted in a way different than what we’re used to. And on occasion, we’ll be presented with history that we know little about and will thus have little basis on which to judge the accuracy of it. The history we’re taught as Americans is not just our version of it, it’s also often woefully incomplete. Admit it, unless you’re a history buff who sought out specialized college courses, you probably know little about the Korean War and probably not all that much about Vietnam. The Cold War is a vague idea that seems almost quaint. Iran-Contra is in your vocabulary, but explaining it might be beyond your capabilities. With history classes always seeming to start with the Tigris and Euphrates River Valley and the rise of civilization, there never seems to be enough time for any amount of focus on the twentieth century. A brief glossing over of all that happened from WWI to the present is about as good as it gets. And even then, the focus is almost exclusively on Western Civilization. What happened in the rest of the world goes without mention, unless somehow the U.S. got itself involved. An incomplete education, indeed.

I’m going to go ahead and be a nerd here and say that I’m really interested in learning some new history on this trip and getting a different viewpoint of history that I think I already know. I’m sure sometimes the new info will be interesting. Sometimes eye opening. Sometimes downright hilarious.

Travel Disasters

We had a minor snafu today during our vacation in Pawleys Island, SC. We went on a guided kayaking tour, and in the midst of the excitement, locked the keys in the van. Now, this wasn’t a big deal as I got a ride back to our house with our guide, grabbed the car keys and my cars keys and drove back, but it reminded me of my greatest travel disaster to date. I’m sure this will be minor compared to some of your experiences.

It was on our trip to Hawaii, and mentioned in our Travel Take Two. We had just arrived and driven out to Waianae to visit our friends Dave and Heidi. No sooner had we arrived than had I begun craving a Hawaiian Shave Ice. For those who have never had the pleasure, think of the greatest sno cone you have ever had, then use tiny shavings of ice that meld with the flavors into a solidified slushy. It’s magical. So we drove off to a nearby shave ice stand, and got out of the car to head to the counter. I went inside, ordered, and devoured my slushy (and Theresa had her first), then we perused a nearby shop and headed back to the car. Only then, over half an hour after we had left the car, had I realized what I had done. I had locked us out of the car, with the keys in the ignition and the car still running. Now, being a fairly instinctive person, I’m certainly prone to acting prior to thoroughly thinking about the ramifications of something. But as far as my brazenly stupid acts are concerned, this was pretty unprecedented.

To further complicate matters, we were over an hour from the nearest auto service, so I got to think about my silliness for a while before the AAA truck came. Worse yet, even he couldn’t seem to get into the car. He was trying to pop the lock wires inside the door using a coat-hanger like contraption, then we tried to pop the locks inside the car. Nothing was working. After around an hour of frustrating tugging and prying on the car’s doors, we managed to open up the car. The car ran the entire time. After three hours, we headed next door to get some more gas, and went on our way.

So while not the most disastrous story in terms of repercussions, it was definitely my most embarrassing so far. I’m sure with a full year to try to top it, I’ll manage to do something dumber on this trip. So what is your biggest travel disaster? When did you feel most embarrassed by your actions on the road?

They Don’t Sell That Where I Come From

Grocery stores reveal a lot about a place. In Germany, grocery stores are just a couple of aisles. They’re very focused. You want mayonnaise? Here, have a tube of mayonnaise. There aren’t 27 brands to choose from. There isn’t full fat, low fat, no fat, imitation. There aren’t glass jars, plastic tubs, squeeze tubes. There’s just one of each product, and you either take it or leave it. Though at first, it seemed so limiting, by the time I came home from a year in Germany, I was so adapted to it that I was completely overwhelmed by American grocery stores.

In America, we don’t have grocery stores; we have supermarkets. There are entire aisles dedicated to bread, entire shelves stocked with ketchup, more cereal choices that you could consume in a year. Even “exotic items” have options. And if you want to buy your toilet paper, light bulbs, school notebooks, and laundry detergent, do your banking, and pick up your prescription while you’re at the grocery store, no problem.

So while I usually enjoy going to grocery stores in foreign countries—you never know just what you might find, and it always provides a bit of insight into the country you’re visiting—I don’t particularly enjoy American supermarkets. Grocery shopping takes forever. I have to compare prices and compare nutrition facts. I have to try to calculate the actual savings of driving to another store that has better prices on certain items in regards to the cost of gas and the value of my time. It’s just not fun.

Thus you’d probably think that being that Jeff and I are currently on vacation—enjoying the beach at Pawleys Island, SC—I’d probably not be very happy about having to go to the grocery store. But you’d be wrong. I actually enjoyed it. First of all, the store is called Piggly Wiggly, which is without a doubt the best name for a grocery store. I saw that they were selling shirts with the mascot pig on it, and I must say, I’m tempted to go back and buy one. Secondly, though American supermarkets are pretty standardized, there are some differences. For instance, in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly I found boiled peanuts and packages of collards and mustard greens. We are, indisputably, in the south. The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway and the Confederate flag rafts only served to back that up. The blazing sun that left my legs and my knee in particular (odd, I know) a fiery shade of red provided final confirmation.

Anyhow, what items in your grocery store give away your location? And what is the weirdest thing you’ve found in a foreign grocery store?

Dinero, Dinero, Dinero. Budgeting South America

Well you guys did an awesome job on the Straw Poll (and please, continue to add in your estimates/experiences, we’ll keep a running tally). Since I’ve been analyzing data nonstop for the past few weeks, I ran some statistics on what you’re responses, looking at our “collective wisdom.” The theory goes that all of our collective knowledge should produce the most accurate results. We’ll see how that works out. Here’s what you all collectively said:

Total responses: 12

Median budget: $41,000, $34,250-50,000 (25-75%)

Mean budget: $41,171, $34,835-47,507 (95% confidence interval)

So there you go, a nice normal distribution tells us it will cost $41,000 give or take $7000 for us (or two of you) to travel the world for a year.


Now, that said, Theresa and I get our own say =). We are going to detail for you in as much detail as possible what we expect to spend, but we are going to do it in three parts. One for each continent. This will provide us with nice benchmarks by which to keep tabs on how we are doing with our budget and all of you with a continent by continent breakdown (since that’s where the greatest variance in costs are). We’ll update the finances to see how well we actually did at the end of each continent. So hopefully this will work out.

I’m going to start today with South America. We will be spending approximately 5 months in South America (with a brief stop in Nicaragua). There are two kinds of costs that go into any trip like this one, the first being your mundane, every day existence costs, mainly food, lodging, and transportation between places. The second is all the entertainment and adventure we want to do … which is the real reason to do a trip like this. So that’s obviously going to be a substantial chunk of change. So that’s the gist of how I’m going to sum our planned expenses up.

Every Day Costs:

In our research, we’ve come to the conclusion that private two person rooms at budget hotels/hostels are going to cost us around $30-40 a night. With the nose dive the dollar has been taking these days, we’re going to assume closer to the latter. Now obviously, we have no direct experience with this, but that’s what we’re going to budget. As far as food goes, nice restaurants tend to average ~$5 each for a meal. We also plan on eating some street food and cooking on our own relatively regularly. Using that as a vague basis on which to make estimates, we’ll budget $20 a day for food. This hopefully will be a little on the high end, and will help a little with the “sticker shock” from how little our dollars will buy anymore =). Travel by bus is relatively inexpensive, but by plane is relatively expensive, and neither will be an every day occurrence. Plus, we’ll try to keep our plane travel expenses controlled with frequent flier mile trips (there’s still a lot of work to do on that part of the trip). We do plan on using buses or trains for much of our travel, which seem to be quite cheap. I’d say budgeting $10 a day will cover us for the variety of transportation needs we are going to have. This leaves us at a conservative $70 a day between the two of us. You multiply that by the ~150 days we will be there and we’re looking to spend around $10000 on regular expenses.


First of all, we’ll want to do plenty of things like go to museums, go into national parks, rent bikes, things of that nature. I’d say if we budget $10 a day we should cover an activity or two a day for ourselves, and I’m sure we won’t want to do a whole activity or two a day after a very short while. At least not activities beyond lie on the beach or walk around town. A number of the specific activities we want to do in South America are going to be relatively expensive. This is because they are pretty darn cool and lots of other people with plenty of money want to do them too. This isn’t a be and and end all list, but here are most of the specific things we will want to do that we have to specifically hire guides/pay for services:

Galapagos Islands – $1500 per person

Trek to Roraima – $200 per person

Machu Picchu – $400-500 per person

Nicaraguan language school – not more than our food and lodging budget

Amazon Jungle Trip – not clear as our approach is not settled (be sure to vote for your favorite), but likely not more than $200 more than food and lodging.

So when you combine all of this up, we’re looking at around $10000 for both of us to get around, keep ourselves fed and have beds to sleep in. This assumes any flights we take use frequent flier miles or do not gouge our expenses too greatly as they can get expensive in a hurry. It will cost us another $5000-6000 to do all of the things we want to do in South America, leaving us at a total of around $16,000. So there you go, our budget for two people for five months in South America is $16,000.  We’ll evaluate how we did after that leg of the trip.  Next up, Southeast Asia.

One Step Forward

You may have noticed Theresa carrying a disproportionate share of the writing on LOW and myself conspicuously absent over the last three weeks. Contrary to what you may be thinking, this was not due to Theresa locking me up in the basement and not letting me out. Instead, I was sitting in the dungeon at work, furiously working away at the microscope. Then I was furiously typing away at my last two manuscripts. My life has consisted of work, work, eat, work, hike, work and sleep in the few extra hours.

But I am happy to announce that I have completed my thesis application (as opposed to the actual thesis … there’s still a long way to go, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves). This includes drafts of all the papers I plan to include in my thesis, my ethical permits and committee members, and date and place of defense. Very thorough. I sent it to my mentor in Sweden today, and then we went out for a few beers and a delicious Five Guys hamburger with far too many fries. Best burgers around – they’re a delicious local DC chain that is now expanding fast, so look for one near you. And I didn’t even get a free burger for that plug.

Anyway, back on topic, after Lars gets the requisite signatures, it will be sent to the committee to render a decision on whether I will be defending in September. So this and the next couple of weeks are an important checkpoint on our current timetable, here’s to hoping the Swedes like what they read in my application and we get the green light for my defense and thus our subsequent journey.

P.S. All of this work is also why I’m not as far on our budget planning as I would like to be, but don’t worry, the follow up to my Straw Poll will be coming up soon.


On occasion, people who hear about our travel plans ask if we intend to do any volunteer work on our round the world trip. I always feel a little uncomfortable when asked this question because the answer is no. Now that’s not saying we’re against it or we wouldn’t do it if the right opportunity arose, but that’s saying that we didn’t plan this trip around the idea of doing volunteer work and we aren’t actively seeking opportunities.

Volun-tourism is huge these days, but I’m going to go ahead and be honest here and say that I’m not a big fan of it. In most cases, I think it’s much more of a way for you to feel good about yourself than for any real difference to be made in the world. Oftentimes, little of the money you pay for your volunteer vacation actually goes into the community that you’re “helping.” Instead it goes to paying for your hotel, your food, your entertainment, your supplies, and the overhead of the company through which you’ve organized your trip (and very rarely are they a local organization with local staff).

Additionally, I don’t think most people have the type of skills or training that are really needed. I certainly don’t. Sure, I could help build a house but really what am I doing but taking a job away from someone who could use it? People all over the world can build, and they can probably do it much, much better than I can. They don’t need me to hammer nails or shingle a roof. What they might need me to do, however, is donate the money that will let them buy the hammer or the shingles or that will allow an organization to hire them on at a living wage. Though just sending money doesn’t make us feel as good as offering our time and sweat, sometimes it’s really the better option.

Finally, I think that really making an impact requires more than one week of your time. Ever wonder why the Peace Corp requires a two-year commitment? You have to get into a community, learn its needs, gain its trust, and help people help themselves. There are some fabulous organizations out there that have already laid this groundwork and allow you to contribute on a short term basis, but take a look around and you’ll see that the organizations that are really getting things done usually ask for a minimum commitment of at least one month. The time, money, and effort that goes into training you to do any work for a shorter period than that often means that the organization is on the losing end of the deal.

Now hold on, before you run off to comment on how wrong I am, let me continue. I’m really not anti-volunteer. I think much good is done in the world by people who don’t ask a dime in exchange for their hard work. And I believe that if you have a cause that you hold near and dear and you want to contribute to it, than you, by all means, should. Additionally, if you have a skill, talent, or profession that’s rare/in demand—if you’re in the medical field and can provide health care to those without it, if you’re a lawyer and can represent those who are voiceless, if you have accounting skills and can help someone start a business, if you’re an artist and can bring the joy of art to someone—than go out there and put your skills to work. But if you’re just a Joe-Schmo like me, take a moment to ask yourself whether it’s really helpful for you to build a school when A) you’ve never hammered anything more than a nail into the wall to mount a photo and B) the community you’re building a school for doesn’t have any teachers.

So am I just offering an excuse for people to say “Well, there’s nothing I can offer here” and go off and do whatever they want without a care for the world? No, of course not. There are plenty of ways to make the world a better place without going on a volunteer vacation. For starters, while you are traveling, do your best to buy local. Support local restaurants, local hotels, local outfitters. Put your money into the community you’re visiting rather than some international business that will take the money right out of the country. Second, if you come across an organization that inspires you, ask how you can help. If they say that they need volunteers, great. If they say what they really need is money, then consider making a donation. And finally, remember that charity begins at home. Look around your own neighborhood and see what needs to be done there. If you want to build a house, I bet Habitat for Humanity can put you to work. If you want to teach English, see if your library has an ESL tutoring program. If you want to inspire kids, become a Big Brother/Big Sister. A staggering amount and variety of opportunities are available, and usually they just want your time, which means you can then put your money to work to actually improve another corner of the world (rather than attack it with a hammer you don’t really know how to wield).

[Jeff will be returning to the topic of how much a round the world trip costs in an upcoming post (hopefully this week), so continue to register your thoughts in the straw poll below.]

Straw Poll: How Much Does a RTW Trip Cost?

This is a quick one.

How much do you think it would cost to do a round the world trip for one year (if you stay out of Europe since that’s a money sinkhole these days)?

Respond with a number in the comments and any further details you feel like adding. We’ll follow this up with a post detailing our budget plans and how they align with how the rest of you think.

What Matters Most

Sometimes when I’m scanning a travel board, I’ll come across a comment that really burns my butt. (Isn’t that a funny expression? Where in the heck did it come from?) Usually the comment is in response to someone seeking information on an agency, tour group, etc, and it goes something like this:

“The porters didn’t have sleeping bags and had to sleep outside without a tent, but I saved $100 by booking with them, so I just tried not to think about.”

Now Jeff and I aren’t rich. We do have a budget for this trip. We like to find good deals. But, I absolutely, totally, completely draw the line at saving money at the expense of another human being. Nothing, nothing, nothing is more important than human life. Every human being deserves dignity and deserves to receive a fair wage for a day’s work. We are all human beings and our lives are all of equal worth. Having more money or more opportunity doesn’t make you more valuable than someone born to a life of less privilege.

Another comment that really gets me fired up goes something like this:

“Well their environmental practices are terrible, but they’re cheap, so I went with them.”

Again, the idea of saving money at the expense of something that you cannot put a price on is a practice I find deplorable. If you think a place is so beautiful/interesting/amazing/unusual that you make it a point to go there, shouldn’t you be doing whatever you can to protect this place? The maxim “”We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” comes to mind.

In my opinion, what inspires people to act in this way is a sense of entitlement. For some reason, some people get it in their head that they deserve to visit a certain place, regardless of the consequences. They believe that the fulfillment of their dream, the achievement of their goal, the status of their happiness trumps everything else. I, on the other hand, believe that if you can’t do it right, then you shouldn’t do it all. Let me be clear, I’m not advocating the luxury trip or stating that only by paying a lot of money can you do something right. I am, however, saying that you need to keep things in perspective. If paying $25 more for a trip means that your porters are well clothed and fed, can you really justify not paying it? If an extra $10 translates to your garbage being carried out rather than left on the side of the trail, can you, in good conscience, refuse to pay that $10?

I, personally, don’t think so.

Buy a few less beers, stay in a dorm room rather than a private room, take a bus rather than a plane. If you care, you’ll find the money. If you don’t care, then maybe you ought not to leave your home.

Face Off #3: Machu Picchu

High atop our list of must-see sites in South America is Machu Picchu, “the lost city of the Incas.” This architectural and cultural wonder evokes awe from even the most jaded travelers. The remains of this lost city are remarkably well preserved. This isn’t one of those sites where you’re supposed to look at a tiny pile of stones and conjure up an image of grandeur. No, sirree. This is more like wandering into an abandoned (but ancient) town, where you expect a local to pop his head out of the window at any moment. Additionally, the location of Machu Picchu is stunning, tucked away in a valley high in the Andes Mountains, snow-capped peaks providing a photo-perfect background. If you go to Peru and don’t visit Machu Picchu, well, you’re just plain silly.

As for visiting this UNESCO World Heritage site, there are two options. One, you can take the train. Two, you can hike. We’ve already decided that we’ll hike. Machu Picchu seems like the kind of place that needs to be earned. But the decision-making doesn’t end there. Whereas once nearly every person who hiked to Machu Picchu took the “Inca Trail” (a bit of a generalized name, since there are literally dozens if not hundreds of “Inca trails” throughout South America), now there are multiple routes one can take to reach the famed city. And that’s where we need your help: Which route should we take—the famed Inca Trail or one of the “new” alternatives? Here’s a little bit of info to help you with your decision.

The classic Inca Trail: This 45-km hike typically lasts four days and starts on the Urubamba River at kilometer marker 82. (The actual trailhead is 82 km away at the village of Ollantaytambo, but no one starts from there.) The trail climbs through three major passes, the highest at 4,215 meters named Dead Woman’s Pass. It passes through jungle and cloud forest, and it also passes Inca ruins. Parts of the trail are thought to be the original stone path created by the Incas. The trail ends at the “Sun Gate” entrance to Machu Picchu, with most groups arriving there around sunrise. The trail is one-way and trekkers return to Cusco via train.

In the past decades the popularity of the trail surged so much that it was pretty much being loved to death. As a result, Peru established rules in the past year to regulate the trail. A maximum of 500 people (including guides and porters) are allowed to begin the trail each day. (But think, that’s still 2,000 people on the trail on any given day!) You are no longer allowed to trek independently but must either go with a group or hire a registered guide. You also are not longer able to simply show up in Cusco and be out on the trail in a day or two. All hikers must be registered with the authorities a month in advance, so you must book in advance. In high season, spots are booked months, if not a full year, in advance. Additionally, specific areas have been designated for camping, and the trail is closed for the entire month of February for clean-up. At this point, the cost of this hike with a reputable agency is about $400-$500 (depending on the state of the dollar…eek).

Alternatives to the Inca Trail: There are two primary alternative routes to the classic Inca Trail. The first, the Salkantay Mountain Trek, lasts five days and is a bit more difficult than the Inca Trail. It leads around Mount Salkantay, which means “Savage Mountain” in the local quechua language, passing through spectacular scenery and traditional Andean villages. The landscape varies from mountain peaks, rivers, and lakes to jungles with waterfalls. The trek actually ends near the Santa Teresa Valley, from where you take a train to Aguas Calientes, and then rise early the next morning to hike (or take a bus) to Machu Picchu. Though this hike does not have the Incan ruins along it that the classic trail has, it has awesome vistas, natural beauty, and a chance to see some authentic Andean villages, and offers a more strenuous trek. It is also not as strictly regulated as the classic trail, and thus you can still arrange a hike upon arrival in Cusco rather than months in advance. Price-wise, this trek is about equivalent to the classic trail, although it is a day longer. In the November 2007 edition of National Geographic Adventure, the Salkantay Trek was named one of the “25 best new trips in the world.” It was the featured trip for South America in an article titled “Machu Picchu the Cool Way.”

The other alternative is the four-day Lares Trek, which tours the Sacred Valley at a difficulty approximate to that of the Inca Trail. This trail leads past gorgeous mountain lakes and through very traditional Andean villages where weaving is still a common practice and the herding of sheep and alpaca is a means of making a life. As with the Salkantay Trek, the actual trek ends short of Machu Picchu, and you end by taking a train to Aguas Calientes, where you overnight before ascending to the famed city. Also, as with the Salkantay Trek, the trail focuses more on beautiful scenery and village life than Incan ruins. My friends Joyce and Jack did this trip last October and thoroughly enjoyed it. This trail can be organized at the last minute, and it costs about $75 less than the classic trail.

Things to Consider:

1. All options end with you in Machu Picchu.

2. Hiking the classic Inca Trail requires advance planning, often of several months, especially in the high season. The other two options can be arranged upon arrival in Machu Picchu.

3. We will be visiting Machu Picchu in late December or early January, which is definitely not the high season. We have to keep in mind Christmas break travelers, but we have more flexibility and shouldn’t have to plan ridiculously far in advance regardless of what we want to do.

3. The classic Inca trail is a very popular route. Even with the limits it can sometimes feel crowded. (For instance, at the designated campsites at night.) I haven’t been able to track any data done yet, however, on how often the limit is reached in December/January or whether the trail is below capacity at that time. I’m not sure how many people like to hike in the rain. (Hey, I think it gives it atmosphere. And contrary to what you all may believe, I’m not made of sugar, so I won’t melt.)

4. The alternative trails, often referred to as the off-the-beaten-track alternative, are becoming more and more beaten track by the day. Backpackers who don’t like to plan in advance and budget travelers looking to bargain have made the numbers of these trails swell, and since there are no regulations they can get very crowded. I haven’t been able to dig up any concrete numbers, however.

5. If you book in advance, the price difference between the various hikes isn’t that great. You may, however, be able to bargain for a good rate with the alternative trails since you can wait until you’re in Cusco to book. There’s the possibility of getting in on an already organized trip at a bargain rate.

6. The “new” rules for the Inca Trail can seem annoying. Gone is that cherished backpacker freedom of showing up somewhere and making something happen. Gone is the ability to try the trail yourself or to pitch camp where you please. And prices have gone up as the trail has become more regulated and agencies have had to meet certain requirements. But, at the same time, these rules and regulations have helped protect the trail from too much wear and tear, it’s eliminated some of the more shady agencies, and it’s provided a better life for porters and guides. Isn’t that possibly worth the money and hassle? On the flip side, what is the status of the less regulated trails? Are the agencies being good stewards of the earth and responsible employers? Some are, but I’m sure some aren’t. A little more research will be required, but there are resources that make that easy enough.

7. Classics become classics for a reason, don’t they? On the other hand, aren’t classics sometimes overrated? And are all classics instant or do some become that way with age? Are the alternatives just classics-in-waiting?

What do you think? Cast your vote below and then leave your thoughts in the comments.

[poll id=6]

Oh, Not There

Go ahead, admit it. You’ve flipped through someone’s vacation photos and listened to their never-ending stories, smiling, ohhing, and ahhing over it all while actually thinking “Why in the hell would anyone want to go there?”

Maybe you thought that when I told you about the lovely ammo can toilets you get to use if you raft the Grand Canyon. Maybe it was when your high school buddy came back from Vegas and forgot that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and instead recounted every wild and crazy adventure he had to you. Or maybe it was when your cousin got engaged at the Eiffel Tower and it was all you could do not to gag.

Though I’d wager a guess that most everyone reading this blog has a pretty long list of places they’d like to visit, I think it’s fair to say that most of us also have a place or two (or three, or six, or five hundred) that we have no interest in ever making it to. Sometimes it’s just a general disinterest, an “I’d never spend my hard earned money on a trip there, but if you’re paying, well okay…” kind of feeling. But occasionally it’s a “you couldn’t pay me enough to go there” kind of feeling. Sometimes we end up there anyhow, and realize we were wrong. And sometimes we end up there and all we get is some validation that we should have trusted our gut.

I’m curious about what that place is for you. So do me a favor and fill in the blank:

I have no interest in traveling to __________________________.

It can be a city, state, country, continent, specific site. And there will be no judging. You don’t want to go there, well then, you don’t want to go there. Fine by me.

I’ll start. I have no interest in traveling to China.

Your turn.