Greetings, friends and readers. Today I’m back in Vancouver, Canada—en route to Frankfurt and beyond for my next monster trip.
I tried to head out on part of this trip a few weeks ago, but got “volcanoed” along with so many other travelers around the world. The word on the street is that the volcano is still doing its thing from time to time, but all systems are go for now. Today I’ll fly to Europe, and this weekend I head south to the equator for a week in Central Africa.
Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, where I’m headed, are two places in what I call real Africa. I love South Africa (it’s one of my favorite countries), and I’ve enjoyed spending time in North Africa and the Middle East, but there’s something much different about true sub-Saharan Africa. I haven’t really got my mind around going back there yet—last night in Portland I went to happy hour for $8 martinis, and now I’m flying to one of the poorest regions of the world. There’s nothing wrong with $8 martinis, of course, but the contrast always takes some getting used to.
For some reason, Equatorial Guinea doesn’t require a visa for U.S. citizens. Getting the visa for Cameroon was relatively easy, although they did request a “statement of financial solvency” prior to granting approval. Someone said I should ask them for the same thing, but I figured it would be better to keep quiet. If you get any emails from people in Cameroon claiming to be my long-lost relatives and asking for money, pay no attention.
I’m using my big stash of U.S. Airways miles for the first end of this trip: PDX-YVR-FRA-SSG. Then I hop over to Douala on a one-way Ethiopian Airlines ticket (about $300) and return to Europe a few days later on the second portion of the FRA-SSG ticket. This is called an open-jaw award, where I fly into one city (SSG) and fly back from another (DLA). No extra charge!
I’ll return to Europe for the part of the trip I tried to take last month. This time I’ll visit Belarus and Lithuania, two of the few European countries still on my list of unvisited places. So far my experience with sorting out travel plans for Belarus leads me to think it should probably be in real Africa along with Cameroon, but the less said about that before my visit is over, the better.
The European portion of the trip is also an open-jaw awards ticket: I fly to Minsk (MSQ) from Zurich, take the train about six hours across the border to Vilnius (VNO), then fly out a few days later via Copenhagen. I’ll eventually come home through Asia (CPH-LHR-HKG-NRT-LAX-PDX), making this the first complete round-the-world trip I’ve done in a while. The return flight is actually the final portion of my OneWorld RTW ticket that I purchased last year in Seoul.
Sorry if it’s confusing… it’s confusing to me sometimes too. I know we have some travel fanatics out there who like to read about the itineraries, so that’s why I write them up. Speaking of caring…
If you’re new here, why should you care about this?
We have about 500 new readers in our group from all the Tuesday reviews and endorsements for the Empire Building Kit. I’m glad you’re here! But I should explain a little about what we’re up to at AONC.
To answer the question of why you should care, I’m not always sure myself, actually. But I try to write about what it takes to achieve big goals. A long time ago I had the idea to visit every country in the world, and now I’m more than halfway there. I write about the process of travel and how to blend life and work with it. I’m interested in living a big life with no regrets. I’d rather do more, not less.
I also work from wherever I am, so my travel style is a bit different than what you might read about elsewhere. This week I saw a note on Twitter from Amber Naslund that resonated with me:
When you ask how I find the time to do what matters to me? The answer is that I MAKE the time to do it and sacrifice other things.
I agree with that, and that’s also how I feel about
seeing experiencing the world. It matters to me, so I make time and space for it no matter what else is going on. That’s what all of us do with our priorities one way or the other, so I’m an advocate of being intentional about it.
If you’re new here and trying to decide if you want to stick around, keep that in mind. If it’s not for you, that’s OK—it’s a big internet out there, and there are plenty of bloggers who are more interesting than me.
Anyway, I’m headed out to FRA and elsewhere. Hopefully I won’t get volcanoed or stuck in Equatorial Guinea. And wherever you are in the world, I hope you take the time to do what matters to you. Empire building is nice, but legacy building is even better.
See you again soon!