A Short History of My TravelsEarly in 1991 I abandoned everything and set off to explore the world, with a plane ticket in one hand and a suitcase (yes, a suitcase!) in the other. I spent a year travelling Europe, with the backpack I traded my suitcase in for, mainly riding the trains and hitching the roads of Europe.
Ultimately on account of a bad foot, I returned home in order to visit many doctors and hospitals and get a new one (foot, that is). While waiting on my new foot, with an unsatisfied passion for travel, I collected all the notes I'd gathered in that first year of travel and published them on the net (in the form of monthly posts to the newsgroup rec.travel). Primarily because I kept losing them and wanted to put them somewhere that I'd always be able to find them I placed this travel information on-line.
After rehabilitation (of the foot) I packed my bag once more and hit the road. This time on my bicycle up the east coast of New South Wales, before flying to Asia and Europe once more. I got hung up in Berlin, on account of love, where I stayed on and off for about six months before returning to Australia via the Trans-siberian, Korea and Japan. On the way I learned Esperanto, which opened up some beautiful travel opportunities for me.
I came home after Japan and toured Eastern Australia on a motorcycle for a few months before settling in Adelaide to do a Masters. After a year at university I arranged for an internship at the Swiss telecom where I worked for 8 months, getting hung up in Berlin again on account of (another) love.
I finished that degree, ducked up to Queensland, then hitched New Zealand for two months with my girl, settling in Wollongong for two months on a contract, until the Universal Esperanto Congress in Adelaide (July 1997). I hitched over Melbourne to get there, back to Sydney and then flew out to Egypt. I cut the Egypt trip short, on account of illness (I was quite familiar with my hotel bed and Egyptian television by the time I left) and headed to London, where I caught up with my brother, visited a few hitch-hiking personalities, and hitched over to Berlin to drive down to Switzerland for September. I spent the rest of the year bouncing back and forth between Berlin and Switzerland looking for work, which I finally found in Geneva.
I learned French, and worked with numerous Telecoms for two years, installing systems, training technicians, in and out of business class flights, airport lounges, ritzy hotels, classy restaurants. Adventures far too numerous to mention here which contrasted wonderfully with the weekend vagabond thumbing his way to and from airports!
I wound that up in April 2000, after the Y2K issues had settled, and ducked up to Berlin to take a second stab at my ailing relationship there. It wasn't going anywhere, but I was, ducking out to Britain, then Romania, between pottering around in Berlin, until November, when I realised my dream to tour America that summer had come and gone with the summer (next year?). So I scooted home to Australia and embarked on a checklist tour of my own country to catch up with all those danged German's who'd seen more of it than I had!
My first stop was Tasmania where my ex was doing a medical internship. Then around the western loop of Australia followed by the eastern. On the eastern loop I was accompanied by my ex's flatmate from Tasmania who was as enamoured of thumbing Australia as I was. The whole tour of Australia took some 9 months and I ultimately settled in Tasmania with my newfound partner.
There I took a job again, which took me to the States a few times delivering training courses. Then along came a daughter and the focus of life moved very swiftly aware from restless travel to a family and home in Hobart ...
Over the years my passion for travel certainly susided and gained a hint of cynicism. I still believe that intercultural exposure is an enormous and highly recommended tool for spreading humanism and peace. I was all the same a part of a travel revolution which has seen tourism grow to one of the largest industries ever seen globally. The bulk of this industry is not concerned with people, cultures and global justice however but the putting on show our environments and cultures to those who have money to spend reinforcing or at least underscoring the enormous divide between those who have and those who do not. A pantomime of sorts has emerged in which entire cultures prostitute themselves to the tourist dollar. This is of some ethical concern.
Within the community of travellers some rivalry and snobbery has evolved. Just as the penthouse suite elite look down upon the club med set and backpacking community, the backpacking world prides itself with the illusory distinction of being travellers not tourists - a claim you will hear time and again. In the end all travellers contribute to a change in the local culture by their very presence, doing Heiseberg and Schroedinger global justice.
For many years while on the road I witnessed my own style of travel altering. From a vanilla backpacker in 1991 by 2001 I was split between business travels at one extreme (economically driven) and exploratory travels at the other (experientially driven). On this latter path I abandoned alolo forms of organised or predictable transport and accomodation relying on a thumb and a tent to explore not so much the world around me, but how other people interact with it. By the time of the Australian tour my only regular expense was food.
In the end a theory I had evolved in the early '90s was realised: money isolates us from one another. The more money you spend the less you have to deal with other people the way they really are. The more money you spend, the less you give of yourself to the lives of those same people.
As with all socio-economic theories, this one has exceptions, but describes a general trend effectively.