Justin Glow and Rolf Potts embark on round the world trip — with no bags

Two of our favorite people in the world, Gadling editor-at-large Justin Glow and travel writer and personality Rolf Potts are teaming up on a wild project starting this week, traveling around the entire planet with absolutely no baggage.

The journey begins this morning on a flight between Kansas and New York City, where the team will be spending two days prior to their departure to London, Paris, Morocco, Cairo, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Singapore, Queenstown and Auckland, to name a few places, all with nothing more than the gear loaded in their SCOTTeVEST clothing and various and sundry camera equipment.

“Why?” you might ask? It’s partially to show the ease and fluidity of travel when unburdened (figuratively and literally) by luggage and it’s also a challenge. A challenge about making compromises on the road, pushing their gear to the limits and keeping cool while traversing the planet in one set of britches.

Rolf will be the pointman for the operation, and you’ll be able to see dispatches from his sexy gourd in both video and words every day over at rtwblog.com. Justin, the (no less sexy) camera and logistics man will deal with all things technical and with getting the dispatches updated. Along the way, they may even have a few visitors swing through.

Keep an eye out for updates as the weeks pass by and try to contain your jealousy. It sounds like a fantastic trip.

On long-term travel, snobbery & judgmental blogging

If you read Gadling, there’s a half-decent chance that you read other travel blogs, too. Don’t worry. We’re cool having an open relationship. We read other sites, as well. Some have the financial backing of investors or media companies. Others are independent labors of love written by one or two people who enjoy travel, started putting words to HTML and hoped that someone would read the stories they shared. Many of the travel blogs that have been popping up lately focus on round-the-world (RTW) travel, career breaks and long-term (or, seemingly, permanent) travel. It’s that last category of traveler (and their corresponding blogs) that has begun to grind my gears.

I love travel. I assume you, a Gadling reader, loves travel. But is traveling all of the time – with no home base – really that fantastic? Furthermore, do people who adhere to that lifestyle have the right to belittle those with stable lives and jobs? There’s been a lot of idealizing of traveling permanently and, quite frankly, I find a lot of it condescending. It’s time for a reality check.One of the most well-trafficked sites dealing with long-term travel is Nomadic Matt. That’s also the name by which the site’s founder, Matt Kepnes, is known. Matt has been traveling virtually non-stop since 2005. At 29, he’s known very little of adult life beyond traveling. Which is why I was so insulted by his recent post, “Why We Travel,” on The Huffington Post. For someone with such limited exposure to the “real world” of steady jobs, rent payments and the stresses of daily life, he has some very firm opinions on why his lifestyle is far superior to the alternative that the vast majority of Americans call normal. The following quote is indicative of the message he was attempting to convey in his post:

“In this modern world of 9 to 5, mortgages, carpools, and bills, our days can get pretty regimented and become pretty boring. Typically, our days rarely exhibit huge change. Under the weight of everything, we often lose track of what’s important to us and what are goals are. We get so caught between commutes and errands or driving the kids to soccer, that we forget how to breath and to smell those roses. When I was home I could plan out my days months in advance. Why? Because they weren’t going to be much different — commute, work, gym, sleep, repeat. Yet on the road, every moment represents a new beginning. No day is the same. You can’t plan out what will happen because nothing is set in stone.”

I should note that I know Matt. I like Matt. The limited time we have shared has been pleasant and he seems like a nice guy. However, I do not think that his perma-travel lifestyle is one that should automatically be envied or revered. In fact, I don’t want that life at all.

What someone at the age of 29 who has been traveling for much of his adult existence could possibly understand about the life that he rails against is actually less perplexing than his broad generalizations about those of us who do not abide by his philosophies. While there are certainly countless people who are lost in a sea of TPS reports and hollow pursuits, to write off all people with stable, non-travel lives as working stiffs is condescending at best and offensive at worst.

There are more than enough “mommy bloggers” – many of whom also write about travel – who enjoy driving their kids to soccer while also taking them on holidays from Disney World to Djibouti. Is there a trade-off that comes with starting a family? Well, the number of blogs out there about taking kids on trips all over the globe would indicate that there doesn’t have to be. And for the people who do stay home or perhaps only occasionally take traditional vacations, if they are happy, why is that bad?

While defining why he travels, Matt says, “[w]e want to see the world, see something different, see something change. Travel allows for change…We all want something different from our daily routine, something to challenge us.” Again, these are generalizations and gross misrepresentations that diminish the enriching and often diverse lives that people with roots firmly planted in one place have created for themselves.

His post also neglects to mention things like hobbies, families, friends, social functions and fulfilling lives that include careers and pursuits that make those so-called working stiffs happy. I have friends who are not travel writers. They have jobs in fields such as marketing, education, law and insurance. They are husbands, wives, parents, dog owners, volunteers and caregivers. They are also drummers in bands, founders of supper clubs, distillers of whiskey and triathletes. In short, they are well-rounded human beings.

I’m not alone in believing that people can have stable lives, travel only occasionally and still enjoy everything that the world has to offer. Over on the Resident Wayfarer blog [Disclosure: I know the author but am respecting his/her wish to remain anonymous], a post addressed this very topic. “To me, travel can’t define a life, travel must be the thing that holds a mirror back up to yourself, to your life, and forces you to see it in a different light, through different eyes, reversed.” In other words, travel provides a broader context within which you attempt to understand things, including yourself. The post closes with the following declaration:

“I remain the person with a home base that I love, a well-balanced wanderlust, and a pretty low bullshit-o-meter.”

In a very succinct manner, the author managers to sum up why not everyone with a 9-5 feels the way Matt suggested that they do.

Over on SoSauce, Alisha Miranda also expressed her disdain for judgmental travelers who view their opinions on the subject as the gospel. [Disclosure: I am also friends with Alisha] She wrote,

“…don’t tell me the right and wrong way to travel. I don’t want to hear it. I’m doing fine on my 2 passport stamps and don’t need your worldly views dragging me down for whatever reason you feel necessary. I’ll travel however I want, whenever I want, to whereever [sic] I want. The lifestyle I choose as a traveler is entirely my decision…It seems like travel writers these days won’t tolerate anything less than a full-time backpacking lifestyle.”

To insinuate – or outright declare – that there is only one way to travel is narcissistic and condescending. It insults your audience and creates a false debate about the nature of travel. A debate that is actually more about the writer than it is about travel.

People travel for myriad reasons. Be it to take a break from work, introduce their children to Cinderella or learn about new cultures. They also do it to run away. Or to avoid a reality that scares or confuses them. Is eschewing the “real world” to travel permanently as difficult as those long-term travelers suggest? Is it more challenging than raising children, being an active member of a community or pouring yourself into a hobby that becomes a passion?

It seems to me that creating a fulfilling life – however you define that – is your own business. It may include travel. It may not. The travel could be road trips to ride roller coasters, all-inclusive getaways to tropical beaches or, yes, packing up completely and leaving your current life behind. That’s up to you. And you know yourself a whole lot better than any writer does.

Exciting Repositioning Cruises for the Fall

Repositioning cruises are the leftovers of cruising. When cruise ships need to move from one port to another at seasonal cusps, they take less conventional itineraries to get from one home port to another. Repositioning cruises can often be booked for less than more conventional cruises on a per-night basis.

Repositioning cruises are also, somewhat ironically, a good option for independent (even round-the-world) travelers. A well-priced repositioning cruise can deliver travelers from one continent to another, sometimes for not much more than an airline ticket, and also permit visits (however short) to many ports in-between. While RTW travelers seldom look to repositioning cruises for inspiration, they should.

One of the more exciting repositioning cruises on the schedule this fall is Holland America’s 43-day Vancouver-Sydney crossing on the Volendam, which will take in Seattle, four ports in Hawaii, American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, several ports in New Zealand, and several ports in Australia. It leaves September 22. The least expensive stateroom on offer comes to $3899 per person.

Holland America is also selling the above cruise with a termination in Auckland (29 days in total) for $2399.

For less ambitious prospective repositioning cruisers, Cruise Critic has published a useful list of some of the more intriguing shorter repositioning itineraries for the fall: 17 nights between Copenhagen and New York on Costa, leaving September 4; 18 nights between Vancouver and Fort Lauderdale on Holland America, leaving September 25; and 16 nights between Rome and Rio de Janeiro on Princess, leaving December 4.

(Image: Flickr/pmarkham)

British cyclist to attempt new round-the-world speed record

Beginning tomorrow, British professional cyclist Alan Bate will set of on a round the world bike ride that he hopes will not only set a new speed record, but actually smash the old one. Bate has set his sights quite high, with a schedule that will see him covering the 18,000 mile route in just 99 days, if he can maintain the brutal pace.

The route, which can be viewed by clicking here, will begin, and eventually end, in Bangkok, Thailand, but will follow a circuitous path from there. Bate will ride on five continents, heading first to Australia and New Zealand, followed by North and South America, then on to Europe and across Asia, back to where he started.

In order to keep his punishing pace, and break the 100 day mark for an around the world cycling trip, Bate will need to average roughly 182 miles per day, through all kinds of conditions and across a variety of terrain. That will be tough on good, well maintained, and paved roads, but will be especially challenging in more remote countries. That is also a lot of miles to grind through, day in and day out for more than three months.

The current record is held by Julian Emre Sayarer, who completed the journey this past December in just 165 days, although that mark is yet to be certified by Guinness. Previous to Sayarer’s record, fellow Brit James Bowthorpe circumnavigated the globe on his bike in 174 days back in September.

Gadlinks for Thursday, 1.14.2010

It’s almost Friday! Here’s a few more travel tidbits from around the net to help you soldier on until the weekend.

More Gadlinks here