Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Last day in Baltimore

I will be headed for Barcelona via London Heathrow tomorrow. Today is my last day in Baltimore. This day got here crazy fast; it really doesn't seem like all that long ago that my countdown clock was at 60 days and now look where it is.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to both regular readers and occasional peeker-inners. The amount of support I've received has been absolutely phenomenal. I've gotten more tips, pointers, and advice than I ever could have imagined and it's been awesome. Everyone - family, old friends, new friends, complete strangers even - has been nearly as excited for me as I've been for myself and that's very encouraging.

So. . .a BIG thank you. I hope you will continue to travel with me through this little ol' blog. Stay in touch, leave comments, email me, just let me know you're all still out there. I will miss "home" and everything that comes with it, but I think I just might be ready for this adventure of mine.

* * *
SPOT update: Still 3 slots available for check in notification. Any last minute takers?

Monday, September 28, 2009


Yesterday was a very emotional day for me. I dropped DSH off at the airport for a business trip he's taking and I won't be seeing him again before I leave. It was kind of surreal because there I was, at the airport saying goodbye, and yet I wasn't the one leaving. Yet. Then I went to my sister's house to spend time with her and her kids (only a brief convo with my brother in law because he was watching the game). Tears all around. A day of saying goodbye and lots of crying.

It made me think - am I actually leaving everything and everyone I know and love for a year? A YEAR? Wow. For the next few days I'll be saying goodbye over and over again. I'm sure more tears will be involved and it will be kind of sad. But I have to remember and remind myself why I'm doing this. It's not as if I'm running away from anything at home. Rather, I'm running toward the world and its people and cultures. I expect to learn, grow, and experience more in the coming year than I ever could sitting at home. So yes, saying goodbye and being away from friends and family will be tough, but something tells me it's all gonna be worth it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Packing list

At some point in the last couple days as I've been packing up my apartment, it occurred to me that I should just go ahead and pack my backpack. This way, I won't accidentally box up something I need and I can at least be sure that my pack is good to go.

Here's what I'm taking with me:


Certificate of vaccinations
Credit cards
Driver's license
Photocopies of all of the above

Extra visa photos
Reading material
Photo album
Travel journal

Three pairs of underwear

Bathing suit
Pair of pants
Pair of shorts
T-shirt and sleep pants

Hiking sandals
Flip flops
Two bras
Three short sleeve shirts
Two long sleeve shirts
Fleece jacket

Technical Stuff
Cell phone and charger
Digital camera and charger
iPod and charger

Plug adapter
Flash drive
Headset for Skype
Spare batteries

Personal Items
Nail clippers and nail file

Travel towel
Lip balm

Shampoo and conditioner
Antibacterial liquid
Hand wipes
Talcum powder

2 kinds of contact lens
Contact lens solution


First Aid Kit
Traveler's diarrhea medicine

Anti-malarial pills

Insect repellant
Copy of eyeglass/contact prescription

Everything Else

Ziplock bags
Garbage bags
Deck of cards

Universal sink plug
Powdered detergent
Day bag

Silk sleeping sheet
Toilet paper

Pen and Sharpie
Two combination locks

And now for some pictures. When you look at my clothing alone, it makes a pretty short stack. So short, in fact, that you might just ask yourself, "That's what she's gonna wear for the next year?! That's it?!" When you add all the rest of the stuff, though, and lay it out on the bed, it starts to look like a lot more.

All laid out, it looks like this:

And then, to give you more close up shots of the details:

Finally, when everything was packed up and in the backpack, it looked like this. I have no idea how much it weighs because I don't own a scale, but it actually doesn't feel all that heavy on my back.

So what do you think of my list and packing job?

p.s. sorry about the crazy jumble of pictures - blogger tries to simplify things, but apparently i'm just not good at some aspects of blogging. i'll try to get better, i promise!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How to sleep in an airport

Through CouchSurfing, I'm a member of the RTW (round the world) group. There are over 2000 of us from around the world that are part of this group and it was created for people that are dreaming about/planning/doing RTW trips (like me!). One of the threads that I came across was about sleeping in airports.

This happens to be a very timely topic for me because I leave for my trip in four days...and my first night on the road I'll spend sleeping in an airport. The website referenced in the thread is The Guide to Sleeping in Airports, in case any other travelers out there happen upon this post. I might be too hopped up on adrenaline to do any actual sleeping that first night, but at least I'll have some good tips under my belt.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where in the world is she?

One of the conditions that my Dad gave me when I first told him about my trip was that I get a SPOT satellite tracker. The SPOT is a device that notifies friends and family of a person's GPS location and it coordinates a rescue in the event of an emergency. What Dad says, goes. . .so I got one.

The main feature of the SPOT that I'll be using is the check-in feature. This allows me to push a button and send a pre-programmed message via email with my GPS location. I can add up to 10 contacts on my notification list, so if you think you might ask yourself "Where in the world is she?" some time over the next year and you want to be one of those 10 contacts, let me know in the comments.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I excel at procrastination

Truly, I do. I haven't worked for the last five days, so my full-time job should have been packing up my apartment to prepare it for storage. Yeah. If that was the case, my apartment would be completely packed by now. It's just not that big and I don't have that much stuff. Instead of packing, though, I've found lots of other things to do instead: going to a CouchSurfing potluck, watching Monday night football out at a bar, various "errands" (some of which were actually valid), and a good deal of going out/hanging out with friends and family.

The problem is that I'm not just packing up my apartment to move to another apartment. I don't really like doing that either, but it's easy and straightforward. No, I'm condensing my entire life into one 50-liter backpack. Some things I feel I need to wait until the last minute to pack because I might need them some time in the next 6 days before I leave - dishes and other kitchen stuff, for instance. I can't eat out for every remaining meal in Baltimore, after all. Some things I'm trying to give away so I don't have to pack/store them. And some things I'm just flummoxed by - do I really want to store that book/sweater/tchotchke for a year or should I just Goodwill it?

Hey, I have an idea! How about if someone volunteers to come help me? It'll be just the kick in the butt I need. Any takers? :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I suspect that most, if not all, of my text/phone/in-person conversations of late have had a bit of a frantic note to them. This is because with only eight days remaining in the states, it's finally, truly begun to hit me. Yes, I'm about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. . .but in the meantime I have to get my life in order here before I go. So my days are spent having random things pop into my head: I have to make copies of all my important documents, I have to get visa pictures taken, I have to sign power of attorney paperwork, what should go in a first aid kit again?, shoot, I still have to FINISH PACKING my apartment for crying out loud.

Some of these random things are sneaking out of my head and into real life. So if you are one of the people that happens to be on the receiving end of a seemingly out of nowhere, frantic message or call - I'm sorry. Just tryin' to hold it together here, folks.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Non-update update

My grandmother has informed me that I'm not posting as regularly as usual. The most recent update isn't all that interesting, but here it is:

- Still need to sell my car. (Please someone buy it! Tell your friends to buy it! I really don't feel like dealing with it from thousands of miles away.) About half of what I wanted to sell furniture-wise is sold, half still to go. Zero packing has been completed. Yes, zero. But I'd like to change that this weekend and really put a dent in things.
- Got a new driver's license yesterday and the picture's actually decent (can't say the same for my passport pic). The guy at the DMV (who was quite the chatty Charlie, btw) couldn't stop telling me to be careful and have fun, and was full of safety/travel tips. I've been getting that a lot from strangers, actually.
- Travel insurance purchased. Finally.
- Local CouchSurfing event this Sunday. Hopefully I can rack up a reference or two so it's easier for me to surf once I'm on the road, if I so choose.
- Have started getting my pack together and pulling out things that will ultimately go in it to make sure that I'm not forgetting something crucial that still needs to be purchased. I'll post a packing list and pictures of my gear before I leave.

Um. I think that's it? I don't know, it seems like a million things are keeping me busy and stressed - not to mention the nerves that are starting to kick in. It just doesn't make for particularly intriguing reading material.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The. Best. Comment. Ever.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My odds could be worse

I found an article last week about the countries with the best-looking locals. I figured at least some of the countries I'll be visiting had to be on that list, so I checked it out. (Well of course - gotta do my homework!) As it turns out, I'm only going to four of the 12 countries that made it on the list, but at least another three were on the long list before they got cut from my plans. Still. . .1 out of 3 ain't too bad. :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I’ve seen connections before between my life now and what my life will be like over the next year as I travel. I was thinking about it more over the weekend that I spent with V.

She and I met under, well, let’s say some awkward and, at times, uncomfortable conditions. Yet over the past year, I’ve grown in ways that probably wouldn’t have happened had I not met her. She practically forced me to participate in Halloween (my least favorite holiday) and I actually had fun. V is a yoga instructor and she taught me the reasons for the om; I can now om with abandon whereas before I wouldn’t even try it. These are just small examples, but I can say that as our friendship has developed, I’ve gained new perspective on various aspects of my life and the world around me due in no small part to the conversations we’ve had.

Now that I’ve gushed and probably made her blush lol, on to the connection. I anticipate that I will find myself in a number of awkward, uncomfortable, or unusual situations while I’m traveling. I’ll be pushed out of my comfort zone and my outlook on things may be challenged. If you had asked me a year ago what I thought I’d learn or get out of my relationship with V, I wouldn’t have even ventured a guess. If you ask me a year from now if I’d ever have been able to imagine all that I’d get out of traveling, I hope my answer is no, I got so much more out of it than I ever thought possible. I’m looking forward to it.

Goodbyes have started

I said my first goodbye yesterday. I visited my friend V (actually what I call her - it's not just an initial to protect her identity lol!) in upstate NY for the holiday weekend. It was funny because even after arriving at 10pm, after a six hour drive, we managed to stay up talking and being silly until 6am. It was like we reverted to 12 year old girls at a slumber party. It was a relatively low-key weekend, not a whole lot of craziness, but we definitely got into a number of really long conversations. And as we got closer to Monday, we were both realizing that I was going to be saying goodbye soon, except unlike previous goodbyes, this one was going to be for awhile. One of us would kind of groan and start to mention the impending goodbye, but that was the one conversation I'd cut short each time.

Saying goodbye was very sad. I really can't wrap my brain around the fact that I'll be doing it over and over again over the next few weeks.

Also, on a completely different note: thank you ToadMama for my kick ass new header!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The countdown is seriously on now and I keep having these moments when I realize I've forgotten that I still have to do X. I wake up in the middle of the night with these thoughts. I interrupt myself in conversations with these thoughts. I have these thoughts when I'm driving and have to scramble to scribble a note to myself so I don't forget it. Again.

Most of these forgotten items aren't a big deal or won't take much time: renewing my driver's license, letting my landlord know I'm not renewing my lease, and finally arranging for travel insurance (yes, I know I was supposed to do that awhile ago; I decided on the provider ages ago, I just need to go online and DO it already.)

But then there are things that are a bit more complicated and will involve more time. Like selling my car. (If you know anyone who wants to buy a 2009 Smart Fourtwo Passion, please send them my way!) And packing up my apartment. (Oh god, I HATE moving.) And doing a trial test pack of my backpack. That is definitely not something I want to leave til the last minute.

It's starting to sink in that I don't have a whole heck of a lot of time left.