Reclaiming Travel

by Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison

Printed in the NY Times on July 7, 2012, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/reclaiming-travel/

What compels us to leave home, to travel to other places? The great travel writer Bruce Chatwin described nomadism as an “inveterate impulse,” deeply rooted in our species. The relentless movement of the modern world bears this out: our relative prosperity has not turned us into a sedentary species. The World Tourism Organization, an agency of the United Nations, reported nearly a billion tourist arrivals in 2011. Some 200 million people are now living outside their country of birth.

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Unintended Consequences of Being Unemployed

I think it goes without saying that when you’re unemployed there’s a certain expectation that you will have quite a bit of free time. I’m sure most people use this new found ‘freedom’ to start a job search, work on developing skills that will make them more attractive to potential employers, or simply look on in despair while watching their bank account dwindle. I’ve taken a slightly different bent over the past couple months on how to approach having so much down time. I’ve chosen to enjoy the time away from work and work related stress. I mean, in due time I plan on being back in that environment, and I’m sure I’ll be longing for these ‘care free’ days.

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Setting Up Base Camp: How the Trip Almost Never Was

Alright. So, I’ve established the history of how I became unemployed. I’ve also established why I decided to move in with my parents and spend five months traveling around the world. Now, I’ll explain how I came thisclose to cutting short my dream trip before I even had the chance to leave, and how I came to the realization that this trip represents so much more to me than a fun way to transition between jobs and hopefully careers.

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Setting Up Base Camp: Mom, I’m Home!

In my last blog post I explained how I came about being unemployed by choice. Now its time to delve into two more questions that come up quite often: 1) Why in the world would I willingly leave Columbus and move back in with my parents after being on my own for  almost fourteen years? And, 2) Why leave the workforce and travel the world in the middle of the current job market? Let’s start with the second question first because it will help answer the first question, too.

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Around the World in 5 Months

On June 17, 2012 I leave for a 5 month trip around the world. Here’s the itinerary, which I think is insanely awesome. Since the question has already come up, I planned the whole trip myself and I’m using airline miles and hotel points wherever I can to cut down on cost (shameless plug: You can check out my travel resources page to see what sources I used to book everything). As for selecting the locations, it was a combination of where the volunteer programs are located, different small group trips I’ve wanted to take for awhile, and filling in the blanks with other locations and things I’ve always wanted to visit. My goal is write 2-3 blog posts per week to keep everyone updated on life on the road – and to let me parents know that I’m still alive. If anyone has suggestions on things to see and do along the way, feel free to share in the comments below.

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my site!

My friends call me the International Man of Mystery, but you can just call me the International Man of Mystery. How did that moniker come about you ask? Well, it started while I was working full time and going to school for my MBA. As part of the MBA program, and some vacation time I tacked on, I traveled to nine countries in six months. At the same time I had just moved to Columbus, OH and started a new job. Of course as I was getting to know my new co-workers I would drop references to my time in India or China or some other exotic locale during normal conversation (Hey, it’s what was happening in my life at the time). Anyway, I was anointed the International Man of Mystery since it seemed like I was always abroad and treated my travels like they were no big deal (If you’ve ever traveled that much in a short period of time you’d understand).

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Where I’ve Been

I thought I would put this post out there to help you and me. It seems like every time someone asks me what countries I’ve been to I struggle to name the last few. Invariably my stare becomes more blank as I struggle to remember some random country in Europe, the person loses interest, and I spend the rest of the evening with the same blank stare on my face. Maybe it’s the alcohol or the creep of age, but I thought putting everything into one place with a handy little map would be the best solution for avoiding the blank stare. I’ll keep updating the list as the number of countries continues to expand.

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