Monday, December 19, 2011

What's the purpose of this trip?

That may be a silly question, like "what is the meaning of life?" What I'm trying to get at is, if I'm sick of sightseeing (and I am), how can I make this trip into the best trip that it can be? If my goal of "seeing a bunch of places" gets worn out, (and after the lovely interlude coming soon where I hang out with family and friends for about two months) what's next?

As with life in general, I think an easy way to answer this question is to find a purpose. So... what purpose can I find?

Some points I'm thinking about:
  • I think I'll be in Iran in February or March, and I'd like to end somewhere that is kind of close to home.
  • Some places in Europe might be nice to visit, because I know a few people there, but just touristing in Europe is not appealing.
  • I had this idea to go to Ukraine because I have a little bit of ancestry there maybe, but I don't actually know any people there, so it'd just be to sort of soak up a bit of ancestral culture.
  • Some places in South America might be nice to visit, because I can speak Spanish okay and speaking the language helps so much in allowing you to find something to do besides touristing.
  • Some other places like Central Asia might be nice to visit, but I don't really have any reason to go there.
  • I don't actually have much of an urge to go to the rest of the world right now! Feels strange.
So I'm thinking (and I am loath to say this because it might turn out to be silly) that a good purpose might be to bicycle across Europe. Start in Turkey in March, end in the Netherlands in June; about 90 days for 1600 miles is only 17 miles a day. Ride the warm weather back north. My primary task would be to get myself from point A to point B; touristing is secondary.

It sort of appeals to me. We'll see.


  1. biking is an awesome idea! or maybe pick a place to take classes, ie language or cooking classes? so that you're not just touristing but also learning. volunteering is also a good idea if good options are to be had (not as easy as it sounds). i really enjoyed being able to give back to the places i traveled to instead of always taking (or only giving $$). my two cents! keep up the good work dan!

  2. Thanks!

    As for learning, if there were something I really wanted to learn, I could go for that. Language is an obviously good idea, but I could never decide on which language.

    And I don't know, I always feel like I'd be a sorta-useless volunteer, because skills that I have are not very useful to most volunteer places. Sure, I could lift bricks and stuff, but probably 1/10 as well as an Indian worker. I'm not very patient as a teacher or working with kids, I'm squeamish with medical things. And I'm pretty afraid of spending a month and then feeling like I didn't do much at the end.

    Where have you volunteered, and what did you do? (and how did you find them?)

  3. sounds to me like a classic case of overthinking, which i happen to know a little something about! :) sometimes decisions just need to be made. if language learning sounds like a good idea, just pick one! or pull a paper out of a hat. or play rock paper scissors. i'm pretty sure that all knowledge is equally good/useful/useless given the right/wrong circumstances, which are typically completely out of our control. i'm currently trying (very painfully) to not be a planner, to live more in the moment and worry less about making the "right" choices. this is a constant struggle, but worth it!

    in re volunteering, i've only done it once; that was the last time i traveled internationally, which was to peru in 2008. i happened to hear about the opportunity thru cs, actually. the group is burners without borders, so a burning man group of folks, who go to disaster areas and help rebuild. i know they are in haiti now. not super helpful for india, but that's all i've got. another org that does the same thing is

    hope some of that helps! try not to worry or over-analyze too much... every potential experience is equally good! :)

  4. Well, right. And that's why I'm kind of set on biking a lot. It seems at least approximately as good as any.

    As for learning stuff, I mean it's hard to motivate myself unless I have a good reason to learn that thing. I agree that the external benefits from learning almost any language are pretty much equally good.

    Thanks for the volunteering tips. A friend just told me about too, which sounds like a good place to find this sort of thing as well.

    And I know what you mean about planning! Especially on a trip like this, where I have to keep planning so I have transportation and somewhere to sleep. Tricky balance, to be sure. But I am definitely learning not to worry so much, because pretty much everything turns out fine.

    Hope everything is turning out fine for you as well!

  5. just came across this cs group, maybe it'll give you some ideas! :)