Where?

Another question I'm often asked by people like hairdressers and taxi drivers when I mention I'm going travelling is "where?". You might already know the answer to this because I've already taken time to write about my plans here, here, here and here as they've gradually taken shape. This post attempts to compile all the information from these old posts along with some more recent developments.

My year away will be split into three phases:

Phase One: USA

Hoss's Country Corner
I will spend the summer months of June to October in the USA. More specifically, in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Even more specifically, in the tiny remote town of Long Lake, whose population is less than one thousand and whose name derives unimaginatively from the body of water beside which it sits. More specifically still, in a large barn-like structure known as Hoss's Country Corner, where I'll be working full-time as a store clerk selling things like books, gifts, fishing gear and live bait.

Because of the sheer distance from civilisation in every direction and the complete lack of public transport, I will be effectively imprisoned in Long Lake for the duration of the summer. This warning was repeated to me many times over the phone when accepting the job offer, but I can't see it being too much of an issue because, as far as prisons go, Long Lake looks absolutely beautiful.

When I eventually finish work in mid-September, I'll escape the Adirondacks and spend a month or so hopping between Greyhound bus terminals and youth hostels across the country. The list of places I want to visit (or revisit) includes Boston, Martha's Vineyard, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. on the east coast and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle on the west coast. The transcontinental flight teleporting me from coast to coast will do so at some point in late September. Finally, I'll cross the Canadian border from Seattle to Vancouver in mid-October, marking the conclusion of Phase One.

Phase Two: Canada

Whistler
The winter months of October to March will be spent in British Columbia, Western Canada. Unfortunately, I don't yet have a job arranged for this period and I'm told finding work in advance is difficult because Canadian employers like to actually meet their prospective employees before hiring them. This means I will almost certainly have to job-hunt on arrival which, as terrifying as it sounds, should be just about doable using the leftover dollars I earned in Long Lake to sustain my unemployed self.

My goal is to work at a ski resort (Whistler being the most famous in the area) in any capacity at all. Bartender, room cleaner, one of those guys you see standing next to the ski lift until it breaks, whatever. I really don't care. The prospect of being able to ski whenever I'm not working, despite probably being wildly inaccurate, is still awesome enough to motivate me towards finding a suitable position. Depending on snowfall, the ski season should end at some point in late March, at which point Phase Three will commence.

Phase Three: Getting home

The Trans-Siberian Railway
Getting home will comprise the final three or four months of my year away and will hopefully involve more than just boarding a single flight from Vancouver to London. I don't plan on working during this period so will have to rely on the money pot accumulated during my time in North America for survival. The details of my route are a little sketchy but I'm hoping it will include three more flights, an epic 6000 mile train journey across much of Eurasia and visits to New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia as well as a handful of as yet unspecified European nations. I intend to cross the channel and roll back into London St Pancras station at some point in mid-June, the same time of year I originally departed.

I've created the below map to visualise my itinerary for the whole year. The dates are only approximate but the route itself should be fairly solid assuming nothing goes drastically wrong. You can scroll around and stuff.

[5/3/2013: MAP REMOVED]

If you've got any comments, suggestions or advice about my route, I'd love to hear from you! Comment box works best. Cheers.

Why?

Hello and welcome to my shiny new travel blog! Today I'll answer the two most common questions I'm asked when I mention I'm going travelling for a year.

Why travel?

Trinkets from last summer
I've reached a stage in my life where long-term commitments make me nervous, where the very last thing I wish to do is "settle down". This is unfortunate because soon-to-be graduates such as myself are sort of expected to "settle down" into careers that might go some way to reducing their terrifying debt. Right now however, I can't get excited about the prospect of applying for graduate jobs or working in an office or behaving like a responsible adult or anything like that. What I really crave is travel, and as someone who strongly believes one should act on one's cravings whenever feasible (and legal), that's exactly what I intend to do. You might be thinking going travelling for a year isn't particularly feasible, especially given the debt situation, but that's where working abroad comes in. I hope to be employed for around nine of the twelve months I'm away and forecast the whole experience will be at worst financially neutral. At best, I might even end up chipping away at my student loan with some foreign currency. Of course, I'm a realist and understand I will have to face the "real world" (spot the irony) sooner or later, but there's no harm in delaying it for another year now, is there?

This might all seem very negative, as though I'm only going away to avoid some other fate, but I promise there's more to it than that. I love travelling and had easily the best summer of my life doing it last year. I love seeing new places, meeting new people and experiencing new things. I get kicks out of discovering cultural oddities that seem completely bizarre to me, but are in fact commonplace and boring to entire populations of other people. There are a hundred places I hope to visit on this planet before I fall over and start decomposing, and I'm hopeful this little expedition will take me to at least a handful of them.

Why a year?

Let's start with a disclaimer: I might not actually be away for exactly one year. My travel itinerary (which I will discuss properly later) is extremely vague and while Slightly Less Than One Year Away doesn't quite have the same ring to it, it might end up being a more accurate blog title than the incumbent. Having said that, I really like the idea of being away for a whole year and will strive to make it happen because to me, one year is the goldilocks of travel durations: not too short and not too long. Much shorter and I risk not properly fulfilling my travel fix. Much longer and my friends at home will probably have doubts about me ever returning and start deleting me from their phone books, burning photos containing me, circulating rumours of my imprisonment, and so on.

That's all for now anyway. I hope this blog will serve a similar purpose to Selling Ice Cream, which I maintained during my stay in Massachusetts last summer. I'll be sure to update regularly with photos, anecdotes and the niggling feeling that this guy has spent quite a lot of his free time writing these silly things.