A round-the-world trip: Why?

When I am asked why I love to travel, it’s hard sometimes to come up with a fully satisfying answer, beyond simply stating that I love all the things that travel sets into motion. Travel enables cultural exposure, prompts the recurring and exciting recognition that there are different ways to go about everyday business, and allows strange and interesting things to happen in unfamiliar places. In addition, there are the site-specific aspects of travel: architecture, landscapes, local culinary specialties, languages, scents, and forms of communication, to name a few. All of this is terribly intoxicating for anyone who loves to travel.

When asked why I want to travel to a given place, say an upcoming itinerary stop or a particular region I bring into conversation with annoying frequency, I feel similarly caught off guard. I usually just smile and suggest, as politely as I can, that I don’t know how to answer such a question. As I see it, any place can arouse interest. Coming up with a rationale that makes sense to everybody for wanting to visit a particular place seems to be beside the point.

The questions that surround a round-the-world trip, on the other hand, somehow seem more justified. For hardcore travelers, a round-the-world trip may feel like a rite of passage or a somehow obligatory experience, but for most people such an undertaking seems extreme. What may strike the more hardcore traveler as formative may seem overwhelming, frightening, or distasteful to many.

So here’s the answer to the question, part one: I’ve wanted to do a proper, multi-stop round-the-world trip for quite some time.

And here’s part two, also known as the clincher: The timing is right. Five years ago, when my partner applied to law school, he filled me in on the post-bar exam tradition of taking a big, ambitious trip and suggested that we think about taking one of our own. My imagination ran riot. I immediately began planning out dream itineraries. It would be a dream trip, a long and involved endeavor. I began to refer to it jokingly as our seven-week trip, then our eight-week trip. Then I fantasized about a three-month trip, of hopping around the Pacific and then the Indian Ocean, and then visiting some places I’ve wanted to visit since I was a child: Namibia; São Tomé and Príncipe; Mayotte.

For years it sat on the horizon, a future event made all the more tantalizing because we had to postpone it for a year due to work constraints. In January we started to think more seriously about it and figure out the basic parameters of the trip. We would have five weeks, not the hoped-for 15, and September looked like the ideal month for taking off. We wouldn’t make it to every exciting corner of the globe. We would aim for seven or eight pit stops over our five weeks.

We knew that this trip wouldn’t be repeated anytime soon, not at least for decades and decades. A block of five weeks is difficult to arrange. We also knew that it would be more expensive than any trip we’d ever taken together, by a long shot.

In subsequent posts I’ll explore the how and the where of our upcoming itinerary.

I’m calling this trip the Capricorn Route. All but one of our stops will be in close proximity to or south of the Tropic of Capricorn.

(Image: Flickr/Will Ellis)