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The Final Update
Tallinn, 21 February 2006
Shortly after returning to Holland, we went to Normandy to relax a bit. At one point I saw an old lady in a wheelchair and was half expecting her to look at me with a sorry face and hold up her hand. She did not. Instead she continued to chat happily with a lady sitting next to her and did not even notice us. We had gotten so used to people using every possible excuse for begging that it was a real relief to see someone like that just act like a normal, equal, human being.
Furthermore no one singled us out for particular commercial attention. We could just walk on the streets peacefully! I had never expected that I would one day enjoy this peacefulness, it is something that I had taken for granted before our trip.
After a few more weeks in Holland we drove to Estonia, where we have been living since. My life has been punctuated by short trips to other European countries; work and family visits to Holland, a trip to Riga, a Halloween party in Barcelona, New Year in Paris and a few days in London.
But we are also exploring more of Estonia. We just drove to Vormsi island, 12 kilometers off the coast, over the frozen sea! It is quite an experience to drive on pure ice, not knowing exactly how thick the ice is.
This is our first winter in 3 years and since we live in the north of Europe it is also a real winter; it freezes and snows. It is different experience again and I quite enjoy it.
I wanted to sum up our world trip and answer some of the question that people regularly ask us. Therefore I decided to write this concluding travel update.
During the trip we came to realize how unrealistic our original travel time estimate was. We had planned a one year trip, extendible to 18 months but in fact it turned into a 2 year and 9 month long trip (1005 days). And even that was not really enough!
Did we see the world? I am afraid not. At least statistically speaking. We visited 54 countries, which is slightly more than 25% of all the countries on Earth. Besides in many of the countries that we visited, actually in all of them, there are still many things to see or do that we did not have time for. Hence I have now revised my "estimated time required to see most countries of the world" to at least 10 years. We just scratched the surface...
A question that is often asked is which country we liked the most. I don't think it is possible to single out one particular country, but here is a short list of the countries that we enjoyed most and made the biggest impression on us: Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Georgia, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Nepal.
Again there isn't one favorite place but rather several places that we liked a lot. Here is a list of some of the nicest places on Earth that we visited:
Another question people often ask me is if I missed home or anything from back home. The only thing I ever really missed was our music collection. We did not take any music along so as to minimize backpack weight and not run the risk of getting these things stolen.
But the real answer to the question is: no. Never during this entire trip did I long to go back "home", whatever that is supposed to mean. As a matter of fact we are never going to go "home", at least not to where "home" was before, since our previous dwelling and jobs are no longer ours.
I had heard that many long term travelers get depressed when they get back home. The cause seems to me to be linked to the fact that these people are picking up things where they left them. Everyone around them has gotten a few years older, things go back to the way they were and in no time their trip starts to seem like a long dream.
My solution to that is to never return but only go forward, towards something new. That something new in our case is a new life in a new country. And for me an interesting new Internet venture in which I can put all my energy.
Another question often asked is how expensive it is to travel. So you may ask, how much money did we spend? A quick calculation shows expenses of approximately 58,000 Euros between 1 December 2002 and 1 September 2005. The dates between my previous and current job.
This comes to about 1,760 Euros per month or approximately 58 Euros per day. That is for two people including all flights. It is slightly less than the original 66 Euros per day (or 2000 Euros per month) that I had budgeted.
However the biggest expense of this trip has not been taken into account. It is lost income, or the money that we would have made had we been working all this time.
But then this experience has been invaluable and fulfilling. In my mind it was worth every penny (including lost income) and much more. Let's look at it from another angle, this is something that I heard or read somewhere long before our trip but I do not remember where; "the day that you die, will you regret not having spent those years at the office?"
In total I have written 31 travel updates (including this one), containing approximately 75,000 words. That's about the size of a novel, and probably did take just as much time and effort to write.
The number of photos that we have taken (and did not delete) during our trip is a staggering 7,836! They take up a total of 8.5 GB on my harddisk. Of these 1,124 have been placed (in reduced size) on my website.
We started our new jobs several months ago on September 1st, 2005 so after 2 years and 9 months our travels have officially come to an end. What's next?
I had expected to know by now what I wanted to do with the "rest of my life", but in reality I am less and less certain of what I want. On the one hand I would love to continue traveling for another 2 or 3 years, but on the other hand I have a feeling that I should do something else for a while and build up something. Maybe another long trip will be an option a few years from now. Though it may be a very different trip than the one we just did.
Although we have started working again, I can not imagine staying put in one place for the rest of my life, I do not really belong anywhere anymore. There are so many places that I still want to visit and so many that I would like to return to.
If you would like to be notified or no longer want to be notified in the event that I write travel updates again in the future please e-mail me.
e-mail Otto de Voogd
See my latest Estonia pages:
Read my travel tips.
Some of my thoughts on travel ethics and how to be positive influence in the countries you visit.
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