when a project goes supernova, it’s basically near completion, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. very near the deadline, the projects looks like it’s going to fail, but it ends up not. instead, the all the different parts of the project instanteously coalesce into a superdense point and spontaneously eject the completed project in all it’s glory, more or less ↩
I’ve talked to the Russian Consular in Seattle, United Airlines, and a Russian man in Moscow with decent English.
I have a confirmed (but not booked) flight from Seattle to Dulles (UA916) to Moscow (UA964) leaving at 7:30am on June 2nd and arriving at 10:45am on June 3rd…15 travel hours later.
I also have the return leg booked (a la “Open Jaw” magic) from Frankfurt to Chicago (UA945) to Seattle (UA929) leaving at 8:25am August 3rd and arriving at 2:24pm August 3rd…13.5 travel hours later.
All for the low, low cost of $95.00 plus 105k airline miles 🙂
As for actually getting into Russia, the process goes something like this:
Figure out dates to be in Russia
Find hostel that will issue you a tourist voucher and confirmation
Book hostel and acquire tourist voucher
Fill out Russian Visa application form
Turn in original passport, a xerox-copy of it’s vital pages, the original tourist invitation voucher, one passport size picture of applicant (that would be me), a cover letter explaining who is going, where to, when, and with what purpose
Pay $131.00 for 6 day processing (cheapest)
I currently still think it’s worth it to go to Russia. But there sure are a lot of hoops to jump through. I currently have an email into the HM Hostel Moscow (US$36.05/night) in Moscow and I may end up contacting the Olimpia Hostel (US$17.35/night).
Progess is being made! I’m calling this Itinerary v0.2. It appears that the only country that will need a visa is Russia. Thus, I’m going to going to start my travels there since it will have to be the most planned part of this trip. I talked with Jeff last night, as he had traveled to Russia several years ago, and got some good information on places to go. I’m hoping to have trip start and end dates locked down and reserved by the end of March, along with all the Russian parts locked down and reserved.Â
I also talked with Quinn and Charlie, both of whom have indicated they would at least be interested in doing some traveling with me as well. I have calls in to Katelyn and Erin, both of whom have been and are currently in Turkey, respecitvely.
Below is a list of places that I think I would like to visit, in roughtly the order that I would visit them. I’ve also added notes (mostly to myself) about things I’d like to do there. I think this seems like a more managable list than previously. I’m also trying to setup a framework of things to do, however still allow the trip to progress organically.
Dulles, Washington, DC
As I work on planning my upcoming trip abroad, there’s been some great discussion and feedback in the comments. Those of you who are super-savy WordPress users might know about the sort-of-secret Comment RSS feed that you can subscribe to, however most people don’t.
So I figure I’d make it super easy for everyone and provide the RSS URL for those using RSS Readers (such as Google Reader) and an email sign up in case you’re not ready to make the plunge into the RSS realm.
After months of plotting, I think I have a possible itinerary. I’m going to call it Itinerary v0.1. It’s basically a version of The Lonely Planet’s Behind The Old Iron Curtain in reverse.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
A quick glance at the math yields 21 countries in 60 days, or about three days per a country. I still think this is a little fast, so I will be whittling this down to hopefully 15 countries or less (4 days per a country is a bit better, I think). The entire Behind The Old Iron Curtain trip is supposed to take 2-3 months, according to The Lonely Planet, with a budget of €30-50 per day. Currently, this would be $38-63 per day. Or up to $3,800 for 60 days. This is definitely within my budget. Although I don’t think that includes transportation. Still, I think things are looking pretty good.
I also checked United and A) I definitely have enough frequent flier miles; and B) it will only cost about $60 to book the US to Europe part of the flight.
Now, at this point you may be wondering why I want to tour former Eastern Bloc countries. Two words: Cold. War.
A little know fact about me, if I had to be a history major, my area of expertise (I’m assuming history majors have these) would be the Cold War. I think the Cold War was amazing for a variety of reasons. Two super powers on the brink of self-annihilation. Covert operations. Incredible leaps in technology that we’re still taking advantage of today. The list goes on.
There’s a still a lot to figure out though, including, but not limited, to: A shorter list of countries I’d like to visit. Medical Insurance. Theft Insurance. Visa for Russia (and possibly other countries). A travel partner (for at least some of the trip).
After talking with many great people, I think I finally have a plan.
There are really two parts to this story, however I’m going to tell them in reverse order.
On Monday, I was feeling quite anxious. I’ve been feeling rather anxious all semester and I wasn’t entirely sure why. I went to More on Mondays, which is a targeted “seminar” that The Annex arranges. This past Monday was specifically for graduating seniors and they brought Cindy Smith, a woman who specializes in transition. Cindy usually deals with missionaries, expatriates, and repatriation. But being a senior is not entirely different. She provided us with a slide that shows the major steps of transition and then walked us through them:
Click image to embiggen
This was really helpful. Just realizing that transition, especially on this scale, can be stressful and chaotic. This also helped me realize another thing: transitioning from college/Colorado to mission trip to work/Seattle would be way to much for me to handle. So I pretty much have nixed the idea of doing a mission trip over the summer, and I think it’s a good call.
Second, I talked with Jessica a couple weeks ago. She spent last fall traveling for about two months in Europe, which is great because that’s basically what I want to do – although I may go farther East than she did. I also filled in some important details of my trip. For me, it will probably cost about $4k-$5k, which is a lot, but I don’t think unreasonably so. I saved at least $1000 by using airline miles to fly from the US to Europe (assuming there isn’t some insane “fee” for booking said flight). Keeping cash on hand seems the way to go, which is what I remembered from my trip to Europe a couple years ago (I paid cash for everything…still have some left over, too).
In terms of getting around, Jessica said that using RyanAir (which I’d heard of) and easyJet (which I had not heard of) were probably better than getting a Eurail pass, although I don’t have to make that call just yet. In terms of sleeping accommodations, HostelWorld.com is the site to visit. I poked around it a bit and it seems really easy to use and should fit the bill just perfectly. The Lonely Planet series of books is what Jessica used, I currently have one on reserve at the library to see if I like the format and what they cover. If not, I may just end up using Rick Steves’. Or just wing it.
The plan, thus far, looks something like this: fly into and out of Europe via Paris or Frankfurt using airline miles. Spend several days in each city until I’m ready to move on to another city. Use HostelWorld to find places to sleep and meet new people. Theoretically find some other people travel with at a hostel and join them for a little while. Rinse and repeat. I’m calling this the free range method.
I would like to list out some places that I would like to visit, although I don’t want to attach a particular time or order in which to visit them. I think this will help move my journey along.
One of the other major things that I need to resolve is what I’m bringing. I would like to bring some photography equipment, but I’m not sure what and how much. There’s also the problem about what to do with all my photographs after I take them. Since I shoot in RAW, I need some special equipment and software to do any sort of editing, I can’t just upload them to Flickr. Do I want to just bring a stack of memory cards? I’m thinking about purchasing a netbook1 to bring with me. Costco is currently selling an Acer Aspire One Netbook with 8.9″ display, Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 160GB HDD, no optical drive, and integrated webcam for $299.99. I could load it up with the most basic of RAW viewing tools so I could delete any photos I think are absolute crap and would never keep (e.g. blurry photos) and then upload the rest to a secure storage space online. This way I wouldn’t be completely SOL if the netbook was stolen, lost, broken (not that I’m planning on any of that happening).
Also, how much stuff do I really want to be taking? I want to be nimble.
If you’ve ever traveled abroad in this sort of fashion, what did you bring?
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
I’m thinking that maybe I should start making weekly updates on my summer plans. To follow up on last weeks report, I’ve prayed and thought long and hard about Messenger and Engineering Ministries International and I don’t think those would be good matches for me.
Messenger is really a community-based missions trip and I think me not returning to Colorado next year is not inline with that goal. eMi seems to be more of planning organization rather then a doing organization. I’ve been planning for the last five years, I’m ready to do.
I’ve talked to a couple friends I have in Switzerland (Remo and GÃ¼nther) and Germany (Philip). One thing that I’ve started to look into is using RyanAir and Eurail to travel. RyanAir would be nice and fast, but I think is ultimately unfeasible to use on a regular basis because they only fly into cities with airports. Once I get to a city, I’d need to find some mode of transportation if I wanted to explore anything more than walking distance.
Eurail could be the ticket, though. I could get the 21 country pass and travel to just about any city of a decent size. Sure, it would be slower, but the sheer number of cities available make it completely worthwhile. Besides, Europe is that big. $1039 buys me two months of travel. I’d also probably consider 15 days of travel in two months for $709. If I did get a Eurail pass, I would probably just visit a lot of cities, spending as many days I wanted in each city (sleeping at a hostel, presumably), and then catching the next train to where ever. To this end, I have a phone call with Jessica planned tonight to
But I haven’t given up on a mission trip yet! My search is progressing and I talked with Lance who suggested an organization called Serving in Ministry. It looks like SIM has some really interesting short term mission trips, including a photography/videographer position; I’ll definitely be checking them out some more.
Flatiron’s Community Church may also be planning on sending a college group to Afghanistan over the summer. I emailed Ron, the Director of Missions at FCC to see what the deal on that will be.
I did finally call the Department of State today to see if there were any special travel restrictions that I needed to observe. They didn’t seem to have a list, so I’ll probably just keep an eye on the Entry/Exit requirements for countries I intend to visit. (Side rant: Why doesn’t travel.state.gov work with Google Chrome?)
I’m still no closer to finding out where to travel or what to do for my summer travel.
Here’s the my thought progression so far:
Initially, I wanted to study abroad. I had narrowed it down to two universities in the UK before I decided that doing so would set me back another semester. If it was going to take an extra semester, I might as well just travel after I was done with college. So I decided that after I graduated, I would return to Western Europe (UK, Italy, France, Germany, etc) and spend a summer there.
I was bored one night and procrastinating homework. I started looking at my United award miles and where I could fly and how many miles it would take. Two important things popped out at me. First, roundtrip travel from the US to Europe is 55k miles; second, a round-the-world ticket is only 200k miles and provides a maximum of 5 stopovers and “is defined as one Pacific and one Atlantic crossing; you must use legal routings as defined in pricing rules and continue travel in the same direction.” (Source: http://www.united.com/page/article/0,8566,1141,00.html?navSource=RelatedLinks)
So now I have this idea to travel around the world in 90 days.
After talking with friends who have spent time visiting just one country, it seems pretty clear that traveling around the world in only two-to-three months is a bit ridiculous. But I still like the allure of a round-the-world ticket, so I compromise and decide that I’ll only visit countries in the northern hemisphere.
Well, after more thought and some talking, this still seems like too much. So now I’m back to just visiting a region. Currently thinking about Eastern Europe plus a couple of Western Europe countries that I missed last time I was across the pond (Germany and France, for starters).
Another idea that has also been floating around my head is to go on a mission trip. Practically everyone I’ve talked to says I must go on a mission trip, and I think there’s merit to their claim.
There’s still some part of me that would just like to get a ticket into Frankfurt and see what happens.
I think I will need to have something to do while I’m traveling, some sort of goal or mission, which makes mission work appealing. At the same time, I could also see being someones assistant. Anyone looking for an assistant to travel the world with them?
As my official time as student nears its end, I’ve been thinking about how I want continue my life.
Of course, I will be working after I graduate. However, It’s hard for me to imagine a time when I didn’t have school, save those fleeting moments during the summer.
Over the last few semesters, I’ve grown to appreciate knowledge and the process of acquiring it. And I don’t think I’m ready to stop yet. I hope I’m never ready to stop learning.
Thus, I’m launching a new project: Five in Five – Five things I want to do in the five years after I graduate. I’ll admit, the list is pretty aggressive, but I think it’s doable.
However, the keyword here is “want.” I want to complete these things because I think they are interesting and I feel they will be useful. That being said, I’m not sure if I will be able to complete it all within five years and, even then, I’m not even sure if I want to complete all things I’ve laid out.
I’ve ordered the list is roughly the order I plan to complete them in:
Travel the World
Certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
As always, keep it tuned here for all the fun. Soon, I’ll be doing a lot of talking, asking, and planning about the first part of my Five in Five: Traveling the World.