flights

Included Food Photo Project

Before I left I thought about doing some sort of photo project to consistently document my trip. I’d watched epic selfie videos and drooled over wanderlust Instagrams like everyone else, but knew I didn’t have the technical or creative insight to make something at that level. I departed not knowing what I would photograph, what theme would be the best or most fun way to chronicle my year. Then I happened to snap a quick picture of my airplane meal, my first meal of the trip, and I had a flash of inspiration that turned into a full-scale international photo project: I would photograph the included food I ate around the world.

This subject was not about the epic but the mundane, and that was what piqued my interest. It was a reflection of my daily life – this was the food I ate because I was a budget traveler who would eat anything I was given to save money – and hopefully would be a reflection of the locations as well. As a reminder, here’s some of what I wrote when this idea came to me:

I’ve been thinking about doing a sort of photo project on this trip. I want to focus on something(s) that is consistent but has variety within each place. … As I was handed my first of 4 airplane treats today (seriously they love to feed us) I quickly thought to snap a picture. Part of being a traveler on a budget is taking advantage of what’s included in any price you pay. Breakfast included is one of the things I look for when I book a hostel. It’s usually not stellar, but it can save a lot of money over time.

So I’m playing with the idea of taking a picture of all the “meals included” I get. I’m sure they’ll vary everywhere I end up, and it could turn out to be an interesting story of what different places think should be complimentary. Also, so many people document their food these days. Typically they show food that is pleasing to look at as well as tasty, and often from great but not inexpensive restaurants. This is sort of a play on that – I won’t be paying for pretty food, but here’s what I got. And maybe it won’t look worth documenting alone, but that isn’t really the point. I wouldn’t be photographing food for food porn but as more of a cultural experiment. Who knows, maybe every hostel in the world thinks rolls and sliced meats and cheese are breakfast. Or maybe what is offered will end up reflecting the location.

96 pictures later I’ve completed this culinary and anthropological photographic study. I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with the results. The driving force behind it – that the included meals were a reflection of location – turned out to be pretty accurate. Brazil had the best fruit, white bread rolls were standard in South America, omelets and pancakes appeared in Southeast Asia, and cornflakes were universal. Australasia didn’t believe in complimentary food in budget accommodation or transportation – there are only 7 pictures from New Zealand, 3 from the same place, and 4 from Australia, 2 from the same place.

The fundamental requirement for the meals I documented was food that was included in my accommodation or transportation that I ate because it would save me money so I wouldn’t have to buy a meal elsewhere. It was about the places I decided to stay and what they came with. If they had rolls with butter and jam available till noon, I ate that for breakfast and lunch so I didn’t have to waste money on other food. If there were multiple options I photographed each one, which is why some places have a few pictures to show the variety. In the case of America del Sur in Buenos Aires I just photographed the entire breakfast bar – it was unlike any other option I had the whole trip. I would always wait until all of the food was there to take the picture, which was sometimes hard in the places where breakfast was served at a leisurely pace and I had woken up starving.

I did not include food that was part of a package deal, like the Amazon or Fraser Island, because in paying for the tour I was also paying for the meals. I did not include food that was paid for in hotels when my family came because those were not places I chose to stay or would fit in my budget; I didn’t have to eat the included breakfast because I didn’t have to worry about paying for my meals. These meals were my choices as a backpacker – I can’t tell you how many times I would forgo a meal for hours knowing that my flight would give me something, or mornings I consumed instant coffee and cornflakes purely to fill my stomach for the first part of the day.

I decided to show these pictures unedited. I think the lighting is important to convey the sense of where and when I was, whether it’s sideways illumination from the airplane window, dull light from an early morning, or no light on an overnight bus. Something that was unexpectedly interesting to me about these pictures was the backgrounds. The table set-ups and airplane trays became just as important to me as the food itself.

So here it is, the final result of my Included Food Photo Project. If only I’d come up with a more inventive name…

Advertisements

My Trip Tattoo

Before I left, I knew I would get a tattoo to memorialize this adventure. But it goes further back than that really. I knew for years that I would get tattoos to mark different phases of my life: my first one was about heritage, family, where I come from, and ultimately the first 22 years of my life; my second tattoo in Khao Lak was a bit less predictable but was still a meaningful life symbol – the evil eye has been important to and watched over me since I was abroad, when this crazy life goal of a year of travel first entered my mind, since what seemed like the end of childhood and a change to my solo adventures, from living in big cities to embarking on this trip. But it was never meant to be the symbol of the trip itself.

I never knew what shape that would take. I had ideas in passing, nothing I would commit to, until one day on the beach in Goa when it all clicked. India was my last stop, the itinerary complete, and here I was with my best friend talking about getting tattoos together. She wanted one for India and I wanted a symbol that would forever commemorate this moment. Like Khao Lak, the timing was perfect. I had to do it.

I didn’t want something obvious, like a compass or a world map; I wanted something slightly obscure but unique to me. I thought about my route. When I bought my flights, Indie generated a map of the path I would be taking. It was the backbone of my plan, and no matter where I went in between that line stayed in tact. It was the literal visual symbol of my 9 months.

Then I remembered the words. Here it goes. When Kwaz asked why those words, all I could think was to show her what I wrote in the Ho Chih Minh City airport, the first time I thought of getting them tattooed on me:

December 8, 2014. Ho Chi Minh City Airport.

“I thought of a new tattoo. I knew I wanted to commemorate this trip somehow but had put no pressure on myself to come up with anything. I figured it would come to me eventually, probably at the end. Then I reached a crossroads in Vietnam. As I sat in the Ho Chi Minh City airport waiting to board my flight to Hanoi, contemplating this rebirth of my trip, the phrase that came to mind again was: “Here it goes.”

This phrase was the title of my first blog post saying what I was setting out to do. It has been a constant phrase in my thoughts ever since, even if I had to edit it out of most posts so I wasn’t too repetitive. And in the moment I was about to start this new phase it again came to the front of my mind.

This trip continues and as it does it reveals itself to me along the way. So all I do is smile and think, “Here it goes.” The rest will work itself out.

I’ll think on this for a while, but those three words mean more to me than they seem. And they may just end up a permanent part of my body.”

Here it goes became my mantra, my philosophy, and my comfort. So I combined my backbone with my mantra, weaving the words into the line of my route: here in between the US and South America, it flying across the Pacific Ocean, and goes on the way to Asia. The three parts of my trip.

The line trails off after that, on the back of my ankle, not a definitive ending but a line that could continue on to anywhere on the other side. It wanders off like I am now, with no period at the end of the phrase, guiding me as I keep walking, right foot forward, towards the unknown next phase.

The Travel Marathon to India

It took two days, three flights, five airports, and four countries to make it to India.

I left my hotel in Yangon at 9:00 am on Friday for my flight to Bangkok Don Muaeng Airport. This part was pretty painless, as was the shuttle over to Suvarnabhumi Airport. As long as you have a flight confirmation the shuttle is free and takes just an hour.

When I arrived at BKK this time for my second sleepover, I knew the drill. I knew where the restaurants were and the good benches to sleep on. I settled down to a nice Western meal of an Americano and a club sandwich and completely caught up on my blog posts. I knew I had just two hours of precious wifi so I saved these until they were all written for a major upload and scheduling session. Done by 10 pm. Time to go down to my sleeping spot.

My bench was free so I tucked my backpack underneath me, arranged my sweater on top of my carry on bag as a pillow, set my alarm for 4:30 am, and pulled on my eye shade. Then it all went wrong.

Not only could I barely sleep this time, but I was woken up at 3:30 am by a kind also-attempting-to-sleep neighbor who informed me that the floor had become a bit of a swimming pool. There was a leak somewhere and it was flooding all underneath us, right where my backpack was. Fantastic. I jumped up and hoisted it onto the bench to find the front totally soaked. Luckily this is where I keep my rain gear so I was hopeful that everything was still okay. But this meant the end of my sleep. Soon a cleaning crew arrived with squeegees and a robotic suck-up-the-water chair thing and quiet time was over.

I waited out the remainder of the hour till check-in near the counter, and once it was finally my turn I was informed that India would probably want my visa on arrival confirmation printed out, which I could conveniently do at the airport for 110 baht. But their card reader was down, so I needed baht, which I no longer had. I exchanged a measly US$5 just to do this – better to be safe than kicked out of India – and decided to use the extra 50 baht towards another Americano on the other side of immigration. I deserved it.

It was not the leisurely morning I was hoping for when I arrived so many hours before my flight, but all that melted away once I stepped onto my Sri Lankan Airlines flight. First because I heard a new welcome that I had never heard before. Then the reality hit: I wasn’t just going through the motions of travel, I was going to India. INDIA. This was entirely different from anywhere I’d been so far, and somewhere that was that end of the road “oh I’ll think about that when I get there” location. Well, time to think about it.

Second because I had forgotten how lovely it can be to fly internationally. You would’ve thought it was my first flight; I was like a kid in a candy store when I discovered the free personal entertainment – so many choices! – and was handed a menu of options for my included meal. I went with the Spanish omelette. I’m backpacking, I will eat whatever free food you’ll give me. I settled into my extra leg room exit row seat and, instead of the sleep I desperately needed, enjoyed some vegging out time.

I had a layover in the Colombo, Sri Lanka airport and easily killed four and a half hours by video editing, writing (this post! you have no idea how great it felt to be writing about where I actually was for the first time in months), and watching the Sopranos. After 15 hours in BKK, 4.5 hours felt like nothing. Then I boarded my final flight of this travel marathon to Delhi. One more movie, one more in-flight meal – this time with a glass of wine – and one more nervous seat-clutching moment of turbulence, and we landed. I was in India.

Now all I had to do was wait, with another Americano and my sign, for the arrival of MISS KRISTIN with an I KWAZnik. Because while I still would have gone through this ordeal just to see India, being joined by my best friend made it so much more worth it. Two weeks and two Kriste/ins, India was going to be incredible.

Jetstar Price Beat Guarantee

When I was looking to book my flight from Sydney to Cairns, and unhappily facing shelling out over $200, Peter told me about a helpful Jetstar trick.

When you find a flight on a competitor airline that is:
1) Cheaper than a Jetstar flight
2) Within an hour of said Jetstar flight
3) More than 72 hours from the day you find it

You can contact Jetstar with this information and, once they verify you’re telling the truth, they will give you their flight for 10% less than the competitor’s price. Seriously. It’s a great trick that helped me save over $50.

So the next time you’re thinking about flying with Jetstar do a quick search to see if anyone else is flying cheaper. It may just save you a day’s worth of money.

Indie Flight Help

When I was in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile I received an email from Indie: your flight on November 27th from Sydney to Bangkok has been cancelled. It was the end of August and I was in a remote town in South America. Normally, this would be an “oh shit I have to waste some time at the hostel finding a new flight” moment, but not with Indie.

The email included the alternative flight that the airline carrier was offering me, which happened to necessitate an overnight in Manila, and asked if that was okay with me or if I would prefer a refund and a new flight. I responded that I would rather not have an overnight in Manila and my days were flexible, and after a short correspondence the team at Indie was able to cancel and refund that flight, and book me on a new flight now out of Melbourne to Bangkok (so I didn’t have to return to Sydney on my way out of Australia).

Just a few emails and that was it, problem solved.

Thank you Indie. I can’t say enough about how great this website is for flight planning. I already raved about it when I found and purchased my itinerary through it, and now it helped me solve a flight issue completely painlessly.

If you are thinking about booking a RTW trip, or really any trip, take a look at Indie. It may become your new best flight booking friend.

That Time I Took a Taxi to Get Into Colombia

International flights in South America are pretty expensive. Flying around Brazil was adding up already, but getting into Colombia was looking like it would set me back over US$600. So, much like my quick venture into Argentina, I looked into alternative border crossing options through domestic flights and land crossings. This is how I got into Colombia:

I flew from Manaus, Brazil to Tabatinga, Brazil. When I landed in the tiny Tabatinga airport, I walked about 10 minutes into town to immigration control and got my exit stamp from Brazil. From there, I walked another 10 minutes to a taxi stand and told the driver I needed to go to immigration control at the Leticia airport in Colombia. So we drove across the border into Leticia, Colombia.

This international border is so understated that I almost missed it. It’s just a sign and a guard, and everyone moves through it easily. There isn’t even a stop sign.

I was dropped off at the Leticia airport to get my entrance stamp for Colombia, which took no time at all. If I thought the Tabatinga airport was tiny, Leticia’s is minuscule. The one building and its one terminal could fit into baggage claim at most US airports.

From there, a helpful Colombian hailed me a mototaxi, aka a guy on a motorbike who will let you ride with him for a small fee. So I jumped on the back of this random person’s motorbike, with my big backpack on, put on his spare helmet, and in just 5 short minutes I was at my hostel.

I made it to Colombia.

All of this happened over a week ago already – I know, I’m a little behind. At this point I have started thinking about how I’m going to leave Colombia next week, and I can tell you to expect another random border crossing story. This might become the theme of my time in South America – how many countries will I enter and exit on land instead of in the air?

There are a few reasons crossings like this make sense for a trip like mine. 1) Cost. It’s just so much cheaper to take domestic flights and buses than it is international flights. 2) Immigration control. It’s so quick and easy to get your passport stamped at land crossings. Many international flights require proof of exit from the country, and I have yet to book any round trip tickets (nor do I think I will this whole trip), so you often have to buy a flight or bus ticket out. Domestic flights don’t care about this since you’re already in the country. And with Colombia, there is an exit fee for international flights but this may be avoidable through a land crossing. I’ll let you know if that’s true when I make it to Ecuador. 3) Airport time. Domestic flights have the quickest security check and you don’t have to get to the airport as early. And in major cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo that have two airports, the domestic one is usually closer to the center of the city than the larger international airport. 4) A good excuse to see a new place. I had actually cut Ecuador, but I just added it back in because taking a bus to Quito and moving on from there makes more sense than flying from Colombia to Bolivia. This one is tough because it changes how I allocate my time: the added stops mean that I lose a few days from other locations, but I am traveling for 10 months not 10 days, so I have the time if I need it (and if I can do overnight buses then it doesn’t take up sightseeing time and saves me a night paying for accommodation). 5) Fun stories. Who the hell knows what will happen on these buses? As soon as I decided to cross on land into Ecuador I got really excited about this portion of my trip. It’s more like how I expected to travel than the luxury of flights.

Day 1 – All Travel

I ate all my meals on planes today. On the one hand, it’s a good way to start the trip. I didn’t actually spend any additional money (except on some M&Ms and a trashy magazine, the travel essentials). On the other hand, it means I just ate plane food all day. Which, as we all know but may have forgotten if you have only taken domestic US flights where they’d rather make you buy something or starve, is not great food. But it’s free food nonetheless. I’ve had some great plane food in the past – El Al to Israel was definitely the best, complete with hummus and champagne – but this was just regular old pollo or carne. At least they gave me wine with dinner!

My first flight from JFK to Bogota was actually quite pleasant. The seats were fairly comfortable and they reclined way more than I’m used to, the scrambled eggs weren’t too bad, and I had my choice of movies and TV shows. It made me wish that US flights were more like this. I got through breakfast and The Grand Budapest Hotel (which I thoroughly enjoyed, you should see it if you haven’t), then, just like the rest of the plane, I fell asleep. I’ve never been on such a quiet flight. I swear 90% of the plane was sleeping for at least an hour or two. By the time I woke up we were an hour an a half away from Bogota. A few TV shows later and I was in South America.

International flights still include checked luggage, and having my backpack checked through to Sao Paulo really alleviated the stress of this layover. The security to get to my connecting flight was quick and painless, so I had time to stroll around. And what was the first thing I heard when I walked into the Bogota terminal? Danza Kudro.

Some of you reading this know what that means (assuming you guys read this, you know who you are). Others probably have no idea why that matters. Danza Kudro became the anthem of our trip to Peru in 2012. We heard it, and danced to it, everywhere. I can’t say I remember much of the dance anymore, but hearing it within minutes of entering South America was both hilarious and comforting. It reminded me of how great that trip was, and except for the sadness of not having my friends with me this time, it made me excited for my next adventure. It also just made me laugh.

Since security was so quick, I had plenty of time to kill in the airport till my next flight to Sao Paulo. I quickly learned that airport waits are not as bad when the World Cup is happening. It was on every TV in the terminal, so I settled into a seat in front of the huge curved flat screen, along with a decent sized crowd. I was just in time to see Argentina pull off a win at the end of their game, then had to wait a quick hour until the Germany vs Ghana game started. Even though I couldn’t understand the Colombian announcers, they were so entertaining. The quick talking and excitement when anyone got remotely close to shooting on goal made me smile every time. And I wasn’t the only one. I can’t wait to hear the announcers in Brazil.

I got to see the whole first half before I had to board, and I boarded worried. As of writing this, I still don’t know what happened. 0-0 at the half was unsettling. (For those of you who don’t know, I’m a big Germany fan. After the US of course.) Hours later when I got internet: I just found out the score. HOW DID THEY TIE? WHAT ARE YOU DOING GERMANY? I am not happy. Moving on.

My second flight started out much different. Apparently Avianca doesn’t warn anyone when you’re in or in front of an exit aisle. This caused some seat shuffling and one passenger demanding a refund since her seat wouldn’t recline. I had no idea I wasn’t going to be able to recline for 5.5 hours either, but at least I was able to get my window seat back after they tried to give it away. When everyone calmed down it was an easy flight again, I had the pollo, and two more movies later we were almost in Sao Paulo.

Two things that came out of this whole day of travel: 1) I seriously need to work on my Spanish and Portuguese. 2) I’ve been thinking about doing a sort of photo project on this trip. I want to focus on something(s) that is consistent but has variety within each place. I am already thinking of taking a picture of my view every morning to show the variety of accommodations, and I want to take pictures of my bags as time goes on and in different locations, since I’m sure they’ll get beat up. But as I was handed my first of 4 airplane treats today (seriously they love to feed us) I quickly thought to snap a picture. Part of being a traveler on a budget is taking advantage of what’s included in any price you pay. Breakfast included is one of the things I look for when I book a hostel. It’s usually not stellar, but it can save a lot of money over time.

These free meals will vary, like my Israel flight meal did from today’s chicken and rice. Or the German hotels’ cold cuts for breakfast did from my Istanbul hostel’s rolls and cucumbers. So I’m playing with the idea of taking a picture of all the “meals included” I get. I’m sure they’ll vary everywhere I end up, and it could turn out to be an interesting story of what different places think should be complimentary. Also, so many people document their food these days. Typically they show food that is pleasing to look at as well as tasty, and often from great but not inexpensive restaurants. This is sort of a play on that – I won’t be paying for pretty food, but here’s what I got. And maybe it won’t look worth documenting alone, but that isn’t really the point. I wouldn’t be photographing food for food porn but as more of a cultural experiment. Who knows, maybe every hostel in the world thinks rolls and sliced meats and cheese are breakfast. Or maybe what is offered will end up reflecting the location.

Anyway, it’s just an idea right now. But so far I have pictures of today’s breakfast and dinner, on tray tables of course. I’ll try it out at my hostels this week (all with breakfast included) and see if it’s as interesting as I think it has the potential to be. I’ll keep you updated.

For now, I have arrived, but I have arrived at an airport hotel after midnight just to pass out. Tomorrow I will really arrive in Sao Paulo. Maybe then I’ll post the “I was dancing in the street in excitement that I’m finally doing this” post. Although I’m still not sure when what I’m doing will actually sink in.

3 Year One Way Anniversary

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

Today is my 3 year anniversary of moving to San Francisco. Which means it’s also the anniversary of the first one way ticket I ever bought.

Traveling one way felt so final. Until that point I’d had round trip journeys – college was limited to 4 years from the start, my flight to study abroad in Germany was 5 months before my return but still round trip, and while living in New York City was a move I always knew I wouldn’t be there forever. The move to San Francisco was the first big decision I made that felt so profoundly life-changing.

Now, on my 3 year anniversary of this first one way adventure, I find myself in a place where I have purchased 7 one way tickets in the past month. SEVEN.

I’m going to take a second and let that sink in. Because that is sort of insane…

 

I remember moving to San Francisco like it was only 3 days ago. While I could write a whole separate blog full of anecdotes about my love for this place and all the people I know here, what stands out for this blog is what that move meant to me in relation to this trip.

After graduating college I landed in NYC more by convenience than desire. Graduating with no job and in the middle of a recession, I applied to internships in the closest metropolis I could, which, being from New Jersey, is NYC. After my internship turned into a full time job I moved into the city. I’m happy I did, I always liked the city and had thought about living there so I wanted to try it out, but it was never meant to be final. I had a plan – NYC for 3 years, travel for a year, then move to SF.

See, San Francisco was my end goal. I had visited family in SF many times growing up and fell in love with it. I knew one day I would be here, and everyone who knew me knew that was my goal. So when I was offered a job for an amazing architecture firm in my dream city, I couldn’t turn it down, it was too good to be true. It was also too early. It meant I had to adjust my plan and move to my dream city before doing my trip.

I viewed this is as a delay, not a cancellation, of the trip. And when I moved out here, instead of thinking I ended up at my destination too soon, I saw it as a sign that I could follow through on my convictions. I had talked about moving to San Francisco for so long and I finally did it. I left behind my comfortable East Coast life (grew up in NJ, college in upstate NY, apartment in NYC) and most of my close friends and immediate family and set off to live a dream.

It has been the best decision I ever made for so many reasons, not the least of which was proving to myself that one day I would have the courage to make the same decision to take off on my trip.

Now that I’ve made this next decision, I am as excited and nervous as I was then, which actually gives me some comfort. If I was right with that risk, I’m sure I’ll be right with this one. So while it’s a little odd to celebrate an anniversary of somewhere I’m about to move out of, it is also a celebration of the confirmation of how right that one way flight can be.

And besides that, my 3 years here are completely worth celebrating. They’ve been some of the best years of my life and I love this city. One day I hope to return and stay for good. Assuming, that is, that after this trip I’ll ever be able to stay in one place for good.

Flights: Purchased!

I did it! I bought my flights! This is real! I’m going!

I don’t even know how to begin to describe the feeling of clicking “purchase itinerary” and seeing the confirmation come through. I guess I’ll try, starting from finding the perfect route.

I had played with lots of options in Indie and decided on the airports for the major legs of my trip (as described before). Then I experimented with length of travel time, departure and arrival times, and price options for each leg.

Initially, the cheapest route was going to take over 90 hours of travel, thanks in large part to an 11 hour overnight layover in Dubai between Buenos Aires and Auckland. This did not sound appealing to me. What am I supposed to do in Dubai between 11pm and 10am? Not to mention the crazy long flights from BA to Dubai and Dubai to NZ. So I found a flight that, by paying a couple hundred more, would just have a layover in Santiago and save me around 30 hours of travel time. Having found what I believed to be my best options for all the other legs, I saved the details and told myself to take a day or two to think about paying more for the Santiago connection option. This was Monday. I prefer to buy flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays anyway (they’re supposed to be the best days to purchase, you can find better deals).

Then Tuesday happened. I looked at my saved route again and repriced it to current prices, and it spiked. A couple thousand more now to not go to Dubai. Back to playing with this leg, I tried some options on different days and found that, by leaving BA 3 days earlier, I could not only go through Santiago but it was actually cheaper than the initial Dubai flight. This was not an option I’d seen before. Did it even exist until now? How did this happen? I have no idea. But I had to jump.

I did a quick check on all the flights to make sure they were still the ones I wanted, got to the purchase page, entered my credit card info – and stopped. Was I really about to buy this? This is huge, this makes it real, this means I’m going.

I quickly panicked to everyone I was talking to on gchat while my purchase page was hidden in another tab. After resounding encouragement (thanks friends!) I jumped back to the tab and clicked purchase without thinking anymore. Then agonizing seconds went by while the website had to think. It does this sort of movement of dots darkening and lightening in a row while it’s thinking. This visual was like torture. My heart was racing. Then: confirmed.

CONFIRMED. Thank you for your purchase!

Commence total freak out.

I ran outside, almost breaking down in emotion as I got in the elevator. I hit the ground floor and took off walking. I didn’t have a destination, I just needed to walk, as fast as I could. I went in circles, wherever the green walk light would let me go. I probably passed the same places 3 or 4 times. I called my dad, I told him I’d bought them, he talked me through it, amazed that the flights aligned so well, equally excited and shocked as I was. Thanks Dad. I kept walking and called a few more people. People I passed looked at me strangely as I visibly freaked out in my speedwalking. But they also smiled. They could tell it was an excited freakout, that something huge had just happened in my life.

The confirmation from Indie said it would take up to 72 hours for the airlines to confirm the flights. So I settled down and tried to not think about it, I had time before that would come through.

4 hours later the airlines confirmed. I have ticket numbers. I am going.

At this point I lost all focus on my day and went out for a celebratory drink. Still totally freaking out, I realized that while I was freaking out I was smiling. This was excited freak out. This was knowing I made a huge step toward completely changing my life, and being not just okay with it, but ecstatic about it.

The flights I ended up with are, in my mind, as perfect as I could get them. With the longest layover at 4 hours, I don’t forsee a lot of sleeping in airports like I thought I would when I was finding 9 or 11 hour layovers. I’ll have to deal with a few early morning flights, but those also saved me a lot of money. It ended up being even cheaper than I expected. Again, I have no idea how. I found a lucky time and I jumped on it. My advice: search as much as possible in advance and explore all your options for each combination and individual leg, then save them to buy on a Tuesday.

My first flight is booked for June 21, 2014. My last is booked for February 9, 2015. And that last flight is to India, not back to the U.S.

My One Way Ticket Around the World has been purchased.

Flight Planning

It’s March. Already. How did that happen? While usually the beginning of March is exciting because spring is almost here, this year for me it has much more significance: I can FINALLY buy my flights!

I have had the route planned and the timing planned for a while, but I haven’t been able to buy my flights yet because I can’t get them more than 11 months in advance. Since my last flight from Bangkok to New Delhi is in February of 2015, that means I’ve been waiting till March to make the big purchase. And now that it’s here, I’m simultaneously incredibly excited and terrified.

Buying my flights is the final commitment. I know telling my job that I’m leaving felt like jumping off the cliff, but as soon as I make this purchase that is it, I am going. And I am happy to say, I’m ready to do it.

I went through a few different options of how I wanted to buy my flights. At first I thought I would get a RTW ticket, so I played around on Star Alliance’s RTW site for a little while (I had already read about a few different RTW ticket providers before landing on Star Alliance). Ultimately I decided against this method because of a few things: 1) it has a mileage limit, and I kept exceeding the mileage; 2) it was more expensive than I had hoped it would be; and 3) it was too limiting. The RTW ticket really locked me into a final route – I had to move one direction within a certain number of miles, starting and ending in the same country. What if I didn’t feel like going home just yet? Or for some unforeseen reason I wanted to go eastward before continuing on west? With flexibility being as important as it is to me, this just wasn’t the way to go.

And then there’s the buying as a you go route. While this seems fun, spending hours on computers in hostels or internet cafes trying to search for the optimal flight prices and times didn’t sound like the best use of my time. Plus, as I’ve already said, I want to make sure that I keep moving to the next destinations. Not having that next big flight could mean I spend my entire trip in South America. While that doesn’t sound too bad, it’s just not what I’m setting out to do right now.

Then I discovered Indie. As I alluded to once before, BootsnAll is a terrific resource for all your RTW planning needs. It has articles on destinations, planning tips, links to other blogs – really anything you could want. And one of my favorite things about it is the route planner Indie.

Indie lets you play around with different options – you can change locations, sort by prices or length of trip, choose overland or flight between places – so you can find the route that works best for you. This is also how I ended up deciding to not have a return flight. Because you are searching individual legs as a package, there is no restriction on where you have to end. It’s the tool that helped me find my perfect combination of planned and flexible. And the price was right too.

For anyone who is planning a RTW trip, I highly suggest spending some time with Indie. I have saved a few route options and keep going back and adjusting them trying to find the right combination. I think I almost have it. As soon as I hit purchase, you’ll be the first to know.

My route on Indie Look familiar? This is where the image on my "Itinerary" page is from.

My route on Indie
Look familiar? This is where the image on my “Itinerary” page is from.