Well I didn’t make it around the world, at least not this time. I never planned to travel around the world. Back in July while having dinner with friends in Boston I told them about my plans to travel to Australia and New Zealand. My friends jokingly asked if they could live vicariously through me on my “world tour.” It sounded like a simple enough request and so #judosworldtour was born. In some ways it felt like I was on a world tour, always on the move, experiencing different cultures, languages and accents.
Here’s a numbers breakdown of my trip:
- 53 Days
- 29,706 miles flown on 21~ planes
- 6 countries (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea)
- 12 cities (Las Vegas, Vancouver, Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne, Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, Tokyo, Seoul, Cheju, Busan)
- 14 crow poses
I’ve been asked a lot of questions about my trip, so here’s my FAQ:
1. Were you ever homesick?
No, but I missed the conveniences of home, like doing laundry whenever I wanted and not living out of a suitcase.
2. Who did you travel with? Did you travel alone?
Friends, family and my own.
- Week 1: Sydney & Blue Mountains with a college friend and her husband
- Week 2 & 3: New Zealand with same friends, another college friend met up with us in NZ
- Week 4: The Great Barrier Reef where I signed up for a scuba diving course on my own and made new friends
- Week 5: Tokyo for a couple days on my own before heading to Korea
- Week 6 & 7: Korea with my parents and extended family
3. What was your favorite part of the trip?
To be honest I can’t just name one favorite. Every part of the trip was memorable.
- Sydney, the first day, it didn’t even feel real that I was in Australia. My cousin also happened to be in Sydney so we met up for dinner. She was finishing up the same trip I was about to embark on so I picked her brain. It’s impossible for us to catch each other in our respective cities, but somehow we always happen to be traveling to the same places.
- New Zealand, so much natural beauty, another waterfall, another rainbow? I definitely want to go back again someday. 2 weeks in New Zealand is not enough!
- The Great Barrier Reef – scuba diving all day (logged 13 dives in the GBR), making new friends, swimming with sharks, watching a sea turtle surface for air
- Melbourne – catching up with old friends
- Tokyo – the best food I had on my trip was in Tokyo without a doubt, sorry Korea
- Korea – quality family time
4. What did you pack? How much luggage did you have?
I had a large backpack that I had to check, a smaller day pack, and then a large duffel I used to hold my large backpack when traveling and for my sneakers, because I packed too much.
Everything. Too much. I failed in many ways, #epicfail. Part of the fail was having to pack for 4 seasons from hiking in the snowy mountains to swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, I had to be prepared for everything.
- Trip Style: Backpacker, budget, day hiking
- Shoes: Walking Sneakers, Basic Flip Flops, Hiking Sneakers, Running Sneakers, Fancy Flip Flops
Instead of heels I opted to bring my “fancy flip flops” for Vegas. I thought having two pairs of flip flops would be useful in case I needed one for showering in hostels. I should have left the fancy flip flops at home, I ended up sending them home early with friends. I also should have left my running shoes at home. I thought dragging them around the world would force me to run, but I would think about it then decide I was too tired to run.
- Clothes: I used this list as a base, I think it was actually too much and I would probably try to pack less in the future. I brought some yoga clothes thinking I would wear them just for hiking but I think the first three weeks that’s all I wore. It was comfortable and I could layer up and remove layers depending on the weather pretty easily.
Yes, I was only going to be in Vegas for a day and I actually thought about bringing heels. This is the ridiculousness I go through when I pack. I usually try to pack everything I want to bring and then once I realize it’s not all going to fit I start to eliminate things. And then of course I sneak a couple items back in if I can. I unknowingly dragged a pair of bulky sweatpants around the world with me, I thought I had unpacked them. Of course when I found them I was ecstatic and put them on immediately. Quickly I realized as I was overheating they were actually too warm and I should have left them behind. I really should have given myself more time to pack.
5. Where did you stay?
A mix of hotels, hostels, cabins, apartments…
The couple I traveled with currently live in Hong Kong and use the Agoda app on the iPhone to book all their travel accommodations. We found out the iPhone app has deals unavailable on the iPad app or the website. Agoda is nice because you can cancel within a 2-3 day window depending on the hotel’s policy. Even when I was outside the window I called Agoda and they were still willing to cancel without a fee. I found it convenient to have all my accommodations listed in one app.
We were able to get some amazing off-season deals in New Zealand since it was still winter. We stayed in a couple YHA hostels in private rooms for 4 people. When I was traveling on my own I would either stay in a single room in a hostel or a hotel depending on price. In Tokyo I opted for a hotel just out of convenience.
6. How much of your trip did you have planned?
I had a rough idea of what the first 3 weeks would look like, but that was about it. I had a couple plane tickets booked,
Los Angeles ~> Las Vegas ~> Vancouver ~> Sydney ~> Christchurch ~> Auckland
Cairns ~> Melbourne
I knew my parents were going to Korea, but I didn’t know their dates and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to travel for so long. I had already planned to take a scuba diving course in Cairns and visit a friend in Melbourne after New Zealand but I still hadn’t booked the plane ticket because I was thinking about staying in New Zealand a few more days after my friends left for the states. Luckily I booked my ticket out of New Zealand before I flew to Christchurch. It turns out in order to enter New Zealand as a tourist you also need to prove you’re leaving.
It was a bit harder to plan things while I was traveling, sometimes internet was slow or just didn’t work. I decided to go to Tokyo on a whim when I saw all the flights to Seoul connecting there. I could spend more time in Australia visiting Uluru or spend a few days in Tokyo on my way to Korea. At that point I had already traveled all the least efficient ways around Australia and nothing was cheap so I decided I was better off going to Tokyo. Somehow traveling to the most expensive city saved me money.
7. How did you do it?
I used the sign-up bonuses on these cards to quickly rack up almost 100,000 miles and that covered my overseas flights.
So those were the details of my trip. If you have other questions I didn’t cover here, leave a comment below.