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One month to go

Posted by Ted on Aug 21, 2010 in Travel, Vagabonding

In just 30 days and 12 hours, we will be boarding Korean Air flight #24 out of San Francisco, bound for Bangkok, via Seoul. The past 10 days have been exceedingly busy. We have had a house-closing party, our first truly successful party in the Bay Area, with enough people from different circles meeting and enjoying each others’ company. We had a map of SE Asia up on the wall, which sparked several conversations with folks who had been to the area with suggestions on where to go.

We cleaned the house and packed up most of our clothes and valuables, moving them into a 5′x6′ storage unit a few miles away. Tetris skills came in very handy. However, the biggest challenge was simultaneously setting aside clothes for a month of couch-surfing, Burning Man, backpacking across SE Asia, and Christmas in New York.

On Wednesday, our three subletters from New Orleans arrived in two taxis, 15 minutes after we’d cleaned the last corner of the kitchen in preparation for their arrival. We took them out to our favorite local Ethiopian restaurant to welcome them to their new home. Afterwards, we gave them a tour of the house and an introduction to our cats, before handing them our keys and heading off to our first home-away-from-home.

Except it isn’t. We don’t have a home for the next 4 months. Our lease effectively ended, and doesn’t begin again until December. Our stuff and our cats are currently in someone else’s home. When we returned the next day to pick up some more of our things, it was a somewhat odd experience to first arrange a convenient time, and then to walk into a house with all of our things, and yet already see the ways in which the subletters had made it theirs. To be a visitor among one’s own possessions is a curious feeling.

For now we are house-sitting for some friends currently vacationing in Eastern Europe. Next week we go to Burning Man. The week after that we have no plans at all. Then we spend a week with some other friends. Then we leave, to begin the real adventure.

Stay tuned!

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15 minutes shy of 85 days

Posted by Ted on Aug 10, 2010 in Travel, Vagabonding

Today I moved the first boxes into a steal of a $24/mo storage unit 10 minutes away.

In just 8 days, we will be homeless.

We’ll still be in the Bay Area, but we will be house sitting, camping, and couch surfing until the end of September. We may even get to visit our cats in our house that we’re not living in.

Phrao, Thailand, just outside of Chiang Mai

Phrao, Thailand, just outside of Chiang Mai

Then, 6 weeks from today, we get on a plane bound for Thailand, via a stop in Korea. Our return to the U.S. isn’t until mid-December. Assuming a perfect world of ontime plane departures and arrivals, there will be 84 days, 23 hours, and 45 minutes between when we land and take off again from Bangkok. That’s 12 weeks of living by whim alone. That’s just over a year’s worth of a 9-5 job (2039 hours).

After exceedingly busy months of the metronome tipping ‘is-it-going-to-happen-or-not’, everything finally fell into place over the last month, and our vagabonding trip throughout Southeast Asia is GO FOR LAUNCH! We are now in full preparation mode, with just over a week to have a party, pack everything away, and live out of what we can fit in the car for a month. And we’re very much looking forward to it.

We were able to sublet our flat, find cat care, and secure cheap storage. Unsurprisingly, the biggest factor of all was our cats. We knew that they would be the hardest logistical problem to solve. While we were lucky in finding subletters willing to both take care of our place and our cats, we had a 4th cat who was a local stray that we had been fostering for six months. Finding a home for Snuffles – a sweet, skittish, FIV+ cat that courted us for six months before we even let him in – proved much more difficult than we could have anticipated. Finally, just as we were thinking we might have to give up, we found the North County Humane Society, an all-cat no-kill shelter in Atascadero, south of Monterey. With some sadness, we drove 7 hours last Saturday to take him to his new home. We are so glad to have found them, and they are worthy of your donation. Now our efforts are on cleaning, organizing, and packing. It’s going to be a very busy week!

Stay tuned for our continued Countdown to Homelessness!

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How to face any situation

Posted by Ted on Jun 14, 2010 in Vagabonding

One my way back across the bay from San Francisco one afternoon last week, I was surprised to discover that the front wheel of my bicycle had been stolen. After casing everyone and every corner I could see, I gave up ever seeing it again. Being the Bay Area, I walked a few hundred yards down to the bike shop and asked how much a new wheel would be ($130). This would of course be the bike shop that conveniently offers a free bike valet. The very same valet that I passed that morning, running late and heading straight for the bike racks.

Last week’s Vagabonding column outlines my easy five-step process to get through any situation.

Many life lessons are in that infuriating category of ‘something preventable‘ where the only one you can really blame is yourself. I once left a brand new Hong Kong tailored suit on a Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto, and a favorite Panama hat on a bench in a hotel in Shanghai. I dived into a shallow pool in Costa Rica which led to eight stitches in my forehead, and I slid down a waterfall in Fiji and nearly drowned. Even the emotional pain of finding that the exact same leather handbag you purchased at the shop next door in the Djemaa el Fna of Marrakech is now half the price in the shop you’re in can generally be avoided by simply paying attention.

However, when we inevitably lose a gamble by taking something for granted, it’s important to realize that both the cause and the incident are in the past and to focus on the present and future. Whether you are in Port-au-Prince, Shanghai, or Oakland, more important than what happens to you, is how you deal with it.

If five steps are too many, Suhail, of TruePhresh has a three step option.

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Modes of transportation

Posted by Ted on May 16, 2010 in Vagabonding

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Horses, camels, elephants, dog sleds, and rickshaws. Bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, and Segways. Airplanes, helicopters, zeppelins, and hot air balloons. Cars, buses, boats, and ferries. Trains, cable cars, monorails, and funiculars. How many modes of transport have you used?

No matter where we travel, how we get around is the single most important logistical concern. After all, if we can’t get to where we want to go, what use is knowing where to stay, what to see, or which food to eat? Transportation tends to be the most costly and least predictable parts to planning a journey, whether it’s for two weeks or two years.

The bottom of my list might be the overnight bus that we took from Marrakech to Essaouira, which had so much exhaust venting inside that we craned our necks up to the crack in the open window in order to get fresh air. The top of my list was being in the basket of a hot air balloon, 7000 feet above Albuquerque, watching the sun rise behind the Sandia mountains. I’ve also ridden camels, horses, tap-taps, moto-taxis, trains, hydrofoils, and a pirate ship.

My most recent Vagabonding column discusses the various ways travelers get around, and the most unique modes of transportation that can be found in the world.

What are some of your most memorable travel conveyances?

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Is that a parrot in your pocket, or..

Posted by Ted on Jan 30, 2010 in Technology, Vagabonding

pirates-of-the-caribbean-grouopSome of the original vagabonders were captains at sea who dared to sail between the shipping lanes, tacking between storms and Men-o-War. Rebelling against dependency and striking out on your own was a pirate’s reason for living. Perhaps their methods were suspect, but we can admire their decision to forsake the familiar shackles of society in favor of the freedom of the sea and exploring the world. Today’s adventure-seeker is much the same.

Swapping stories, providing tips, and offering encouragement, Twitter is where the new generation of explorers are sharing their wanderlust.

ONE WEEK LEFT OF WORK. Nope. Not excited.” noted one soon-to-be traveler the other today. Known as a hash tag, one conversation that I’ve been following lately has been #RTWsoon, “started” several weeks ago. Chris, the Aussie Nomad, said that “the #RTWsoon tag has been a great way to express our soon to be travel plans with others in the same boat. I have found support, tips and a laugh all by following and being a part of it.”

Read more about how Twitter is contributing to the growing counterculture of vagabonding in this week’s column!

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