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July 1, 2009

Everything Everywhere: Q&A with Gary Arndt

If anybody knows how to follow through on a travel goal, it’s Gary Arndt. His: simply to travel. He’s been traveling non-stop for the past two years and he has yet to set a return date. What we do know: he’s in Amsterdam today. And soon he’ll be in England. His website, Everything Everywhere, keeps us up-to-date on his whereabouts.

Gary’s the first to admit that he caught the travel bug a little late. Growing up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, he didn’t see saltwater until he was 21 years old, when he visited Seattle. His first trip abroad was in 1999 on a business trip that took him around the world.

It’s true that he sold his house to pay for his current trip, which isn’t something that everybody can do. He figures most people spend about $15,000-20,000 per year to travel year-round. But his one luxury—staying in single rooms rather than dorms while at hostels—ups the expense a bit.

Gary was kind enough to answer a few questions recently via email:

Your blog mentions that you got the idea to do a RTW trip two years before your trip. Looking back, what was the best preparation that you did during that time? And the worst?
The time before my trip was spent tying up loose ends more than planning. Selling my house and taking care of other business took up all that time. There was actually very little planning that I did other than knowing the general direction I was going to travel. The ability to adapt is more important than the ability to plan, because your plans are always going to change no matter what you do.

You’ve been away for two years now. How have your thoughts on the trip, or your approach, changed over that time?
It has been more of a matter of adjustment. When I started the trip I had to get used to not having my own bed or a place to retreat to. Eventually you just get used to it and you come to accept wherever you are as home. The only way to get to that point is to be forced into a situation where you have no place to retreat to. The first few months were sometimes difficult, but eventually you get used to it.

Do you have any favorite budget travel tips?
For me, I always look for hotels and hostels with free wifi. Paying for internet will drive you bankrupt if you have to do it on a consistent basis. I have found that cheaper hotels and hostels usually offer better/cheaper internet access than expensive places.

Any tricks you’ve learned for blogging from the road?
You have to be dedicated to blogging. There are tens of thousands of people who try to keep a blog while traveling and almost all of them are infrequently updated and abandoned. A laptop and a good camera I think are essential to blogging from the road. Also, blogging isn’t just writing. The internet is multimedia and travel is a very visual thing. Photography and video are just as important. Also, don’t expect to make a ton of money from your travel blog.

I’ve read you’re an Eagle Scout. Have you ever put some of those skills to the test on the road?
Yes. Knots and first aid always come in handy. :)

What’s next? Or do you have a particular goal for future travels?
I’ll be returning to the US in about a month to take care of some business and to visit my family which I haven’t seen in two years. Later in 2009-10 I plan on doing a big tour of the Caribbean and Central America with some road trips in the United States in September/October. I intend to keep traveling as long as I can, but I don’t know if I’ll be on the road for two years straight again in the same way I have been traveling. I might do two or three multi-month trips per year to targeted destinations like China and India. I hope to do more video and podcasting in the future and find other people to travel with. After almost 30 months of solo travel, spending time with someone else will be a real change.

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