When I first saw the name NoDebtWorldTravel, I was instantly intrigued. Was it some sort of gimmick? Nope, it was the blog of Brian Peters, who just completed a four-month journey around the world — and plans to depart again soon — without accumulating any debt. He had sold his house the year before, and when he got laid off in the fall, he decided that it was the perfect opportunity to take his dream trip. But while he lived it up in Europe, Asia and Africa, he never forgot about the folks back home. On his blog he asked people to send email him their addresses for a real postcard, and he ended up sending close to 700! Below, Brian talks about some of the highlights of his trip.
(Brian Peters at a snake farm in Bangkok)
Travelogged: Where did you go on your trip?
Brian Peters: I went from New York to Hawaii, Tokyo, Thailand (Bangkok, Ao Nang), Cambodia (Angkor Wat), China (Hong Kong, Macau), Cape Town, Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), London, Paris, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Marrakech, Rome and then back to New York.
T: Which place was your favorite?
BP: Everyone tries to pin me down on that. If I was forced to say something, I would say it would be a tossup between Tokyo and Paris.
Tokyo because I don't mind standing out in a crowd… and seem to be taller than 70% of the population at 5'11". Tokyo reminds me of New York, without being New York, if that makes any sense. Paris because of all the rich history and culture. Parisians need to pick up behind their dogs though. Got to watch where you step in Paris.
But I would run back to any of the places I've been to in a heartbeat. Thailand was amazing. South Africa, Hawaii, Cambodia…
T: What the most amazing/beautiful place you saw?
BP: Probably in Hawaii when I was technically on top of the tallest mountain on planet Earth as measured from the sea floor.
Also, the penguins on Boulders Beach in South Africa (pictured right) and the views in Greece were pretty amazing too.
My favorite thing from the trip: the people. My fellow travelers who shared my sense of wonder and excitement about being wherever we were at that particular time and the locals of all the countries, who brought me into their stores, homes and families and treated me with kindness and respect. I tried to give as good as I got!
T: What was your best meal?
BP: I would say the Thai cooking class I took was the best food I had on the trip. And making it is so easy and quick.
T: What were the biggest surprises?
Also, I had expected that when I went abroad I would find images of "Death to America!" like you see on the nightly news. I got nothing but love abroad. I talked about the Obama effect on my blog. Say whatever you like, America is still the leader of the world because of our military and economic might. And everyone I've talked to, from other travelers to locals in the countries I've visited, were all excited about the new president. No one seemed to dislike Americans per se, but they didn't like our policies about certain things. Don't ask me to state one particular one, take your pick!
T: Any disappointments? Any least favorite places?
BP: Not really. My only disappointment was that I didn't get to Australia and India. I skipped Australia figuring I wanted to get away from English speaking countries — I went to England to see family. But I met so many great Aussies along the way from the big cities as well as the middle of the Outback it really peaked my interest.
T: As a budget traveler, what are some tips for those who want to travel on the cheap?
BP: That is the book I'm writing right now! First I would say believe it is possible. So many don't research because they think they don't have enough. If you gave up your $20 a week Starbucks "habit" and saved $5000, anyone could take an around the world trip, airfare and lodging included. It really depends on your stops. Some places will cost more in terms of airfare.
Hostels are a major reason I saved so much cash. I tried to cook myself when I could. Lodging and food will your main expenses whether you're going around the world or away for a week. If you are diligent, your budget can be really stretched.
T: Any other advice for future travelers?
BP: To rip off Nike, "JUST DO IT". You just have to plan carefully before the trip. Once you start the trip the plan goes out the window because now your world is very fluid and dynamic. You may decide to cut one place short and stay in another place longer. I was suppose to be in Tokyo for a week, I stayed two. I was suppose to be in Hong Kong for a week, I stayed 2 1/2. You must be flexible and formless, like water. Fit into any environment you're in and enjoy the whole experience.