She said, he said...month one.

With about 22,000 miles traveled so far, we each reflected on the last month of non-stop travel (July 1-August 1).  We didn't discuss our answers before combining them and hitting publish.  As you can see, it's been a great month, but we definitely have our own perspectives on it.  August has already included some amazing experiences -- stay tuned, and let us know in the comments if you have other questions we didn't answer.    

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Why did you want to do this trip?

Amy said...

We had planned to do a long-term trip a few years ago, but the timing just wasn’t right.  When Keith pointed out in mid-April that we could do this trip, I thought he was crazy, but as we talked about what it would require and realized we could pull it off, I was really excited about the prospect of trying long-term travel, visiting countries we hadn’t gotten to before, and challenging ourselves. 

Keith said...

Several reasons really.  First we have been talking about doing long term travel for years.  The longest trip I have ever been on is 17 days to Africa, which seemed like a lifetime at the time, but long term travel has a completely different feel.  There is far less anxiety about “getting it all in” or “missing something” and it really opens up the ability to enjoy and experience the trip.  Additionally, I had a personal goal of joining the Circumnavigators Club and launching the reddotbluedot project.  As a coach and consultant who focuses on career transitions and helping clients find work that is fulfilling, I felt it was imperative that I work on and really focus on my own photography for the first time in my life.  Practice what you preach, right?

What is it about longer term travel that excites you?  What are you anxious about?

Amy said...

While we certainly had challenges in our day-to-day lives, the ins and outs of long-term travel are so different, that it’s a different way of using your brain.  While it can be tiring, having to figure things out every single day, being forced outside your comfort zone, trying new foods, meeting new people, and having new experiences is really exciting, and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity.  

I’m not really anxious about any of it.  I’d rather not miss flights, but other than that, I recognize that much of the trip is outside our control.

Keith said...

Eliminating the stress of the “vacation” where I have to fit it all in and knowing that tomorrow is a new experience.  That’s a great feeling.  

Anxious?  Me?  Well, I suppose all of the change this year.  We lost Dad early in the year and that started 2018 off with a lot of change.  Only a month or so later moving from city management to working for our coaching and consulting firm Apochromatik, embracing travel and photography, it is a lot of change and uncertainty.  But I followed my own coaching advice and it seems to be working so far!  Check back in another month…

In the first month what was your favorite experience?

Amy said...

This is impossible to answer!  I think in terms of visiting a place I’d been interested in since middle school social studies class, Machu Picchu was incredible.

Keith said...

One experience? Well I’d have to take an easy answer and say the daily experience of waking up knowing that I’m traveling and going to have a great experience again today.  But let’s face it, that is cheating right?  So I’d say, Machu Picchu, the DMZ in South Korea, and the food and cameras in Japan.  But there are so many more amazing experiences…check them out on reddotbluedot.com…oh wait, you are already here so I can stop that.

What did you bring and shouldn’t have?

Amy said...

With just a carry-on and a backpack, you wouldn’t think I’d have extra things, but of course I do.  

When we stopped in Chicago after Peru, I dropped off one of the dresses I brought and my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket.  I was glad I had the jacket in Peru where it was down to the 30s and 40s at night, but had planned to leave it behind after Peru.  I’m glad I’m not still carrying it around now that a “cool day” has been in the high 80s, and some have been well over 100 degrees.  

I shouldn’t have brought Royal Robbins shirts — I used to truly love and count on them for travel but the brand new shirts I got before we left look horrible.  Basically they pill like crazy.  I should just leave them behind but it irritates me that they used to be so great, so I keep hauling them around (and wearing them!).  

I also shouldn’t have brought books to read for fun — somehow I find myself just listening to books on Audible and never get around to reading because I’m coaching clients/exploring/working on other legs of the trip/sleeping.  

I shouldn’t have brought an Amazon Fire Stick — it still hasn’t worked and we don’t have time to watch TV anyway!

Keith said...

This is a bit more complicated.  I love my 15” MacBook Pro, but I have to say a 13” would have been better when I’m carrying it every day.  I can’t do all of the work I need to do on an iPad, but some days that would be even better.  I think I probably packed too many clothes, and too much in the pharmacy department.  I have a larger external drive that I REALLY wish didn’t have a power brick.  The lighter, and more streamlined the easier because my cameras and computer are essentially “fixed."

What hotel has been your favorite hotel so far on this trip?  What hotel is your all-time favorite hotel?

Amy said...

In the first month, my favorite hotel was Tambo del Inka in Urubamba, Peru.  It was a great Starwood cash and points redemption, a beautiful property, our room was enormous, the breakfast (an important quality to me!) was great, the people were really helpful, and I loved Urubamba.  And they have an indoor/outdoor swimming pool that was a great place to see the stars.  

My all-time favorite hotel isn’t really a hotel — it’s Canyon Ranch in Tucson.  A former student gave Keith and I a week there after I left the University of Chicago and it truly changed my life.  I don’t know if any place else will ever compare.  And of course every hotel we have stayed at on safaris in Kenya — it doesn’t matter what the sheet thread count is when you get to hear elephants at night!  

Keith said...

My favorite hotel on this trip was the Tambo Del Inka SPG property in Urubamba, Peru.  It was really nice.  That being said, we have tried to stay on a tight budget for lodging and I have been accused of being a “hotel snob” from time to time.  Every place we have stayed has been more than suitable so far.  My favorite hotel of all time is tough, but I would have to say Salt Lick Lodge in Kenya just for the fact that I can wake up in the middle of the night and have a chat with elephants in the wild, or on the luxury side the Sheraton Arabella in Cape Town, South Africa.

What have been your least favorite accommodations on this trip?

Amy said...

Oh boy.  The AirBnB in Medellin had its moments (cold showers, the crazy huge family that took over the floor and had kids running around at 11 at night, the broken washing machine), and both of our Tokyo hotels had issues that would make me look for a different hotel next time.  But at the end of the day, I try to remember that as long as we don’t get bedbugs and do get some sleep, it’s all fine.  And the places that aren’t so great make me appreciate the great ones.  (And, spoiler alert: we’ve stayed at some great places already in August!)    

Keith said...

The rooms in the second hotel in Tokyo were REALLY small.  Completely fine, nice actually, but REALLY small.

Best and worst moments of the first month?

Amy said...

Worst moments were getting sick in Peru to the point where we had a doctor come to the hotel (though that was fascinating!), and flight issues — when we thought we might miss the flight from Medellin to Bogota due to huge lines at the airport, when our flight delay getting into Bogota almost caused us to miss the flight into Cusco (which was also delayed, fortunately), when four out of four Southwest flights were cancelled or delayed as we were traveling back from Lima to Chicago, and as we travelled from Chicago to San Francisco.  But other than those things outside of our control (mostly), I try to remember it’s all just an experience that I’m incredibly lucky to have.       

For best moments, there are so many!  Realizing “holy smokes, we’re really doing this!” in Medellin was mind blowing, hearing a pan flute play ABBA while we visited the Maras Salt Flats in Peru was surreal, getting to do a kimono and tea ceremony class with Keith and his mom in Kyoto was really special, having dinner with a former student in Tokyo made me proud and was so much fun, eating fugu in Tokyo as part of a food tour was crazy, visiting the DMZ in Korea was truly a privilege and meant a great deal since I’ve read so many books by people who’ve left North Korea, and so many other moments that I know my 12 year old self would’ve been amazed by.  

One more: laughing so hard I cried at in the hotel lounge in Kyoto.  You couldn’t take one ice cube without someone running over to monitor you, so you can imagine how close the staff person was to a cardiac arrest when I opened a tiny packet of crackers and the entire contents went flying, I cleaned it up, and promptly did the same thing again!  Then add on the fact there were other people in the lounge wearing only their hotel room bathrooms and slippers (at 7 pm) in full hair and makeup (men and women) and apparently nothing on under their robes.  It was like a Saturday Night Live sketch, and once I started giggling, I couldn’t stop.

Keith said...

The head and chest cold I had the first week and a half, that sucked.  Particularly at high elevations.  The worst moments I tend to have are at airport security.  I am incredibly organized, have everything in order before I get there, and invariably my bag ends up practically dumped out and the Leica gear gets poured over and searched.  Very frustrating.

The best moments are infinite.  Interactions with people.  New friends.  Feeling like I walked away with a great photograph.  Seeing things I didn't think I would ever see from a perspective I didn't think I would ever have.  Shooting every day.

Favorite flight of the first month?

Amy said...

Probably the Korean Air flight from San Francisco to Seoul.  The flight attendants began the flight by bowing to the cabins and were excellent in all ways, we were in business class (thank you, Ultimate Rewards points!), the flight was long enough that you could get a night’s sleep but also eat, watch a movie, etc.  And they had great (for an airplane) Korean food — I always like it when the in-flight meal isn’t one that you could just have anywhere.

Keith said...

Korean Air from San Francisco to Seoul, South Korea.  Nothing beats business class on points.

Best and worst airports of the first month?

Amy said...

Best was Incheon Airport in Seoul.  It’s huge, but it’s the cleanest airport I’ve ever seen.     And Narita Airport in Tokyo, because we got to go to the brand new Narita Premier Lounge, which isn’t the nicest lounge (no bathroom?!) but they gave us free Japanese fans since they just opened, the food was enough to replace dinner, and it would be impossible to find nicer, more attentive staff.  Also Abu Dhabi, solely because when some guys tried to cut in line ahead of me at immigration at 1:30 in the morning, the male immigration worker wouldn’t let them.  (It’s the little things!)

Worst airport may have been Haneda Airport in Tokyo, just because when we arrived at  midnight, the immigration area was probably (not an exaggeration) more than 85 degrees.  It was just unbearable.  But other than that, the Priority Pass card with some of our credit cards has gotten us into airport lounges for free basically everywhere, so when all else has failed, there’s still been a cleanish bathroom and free bottle of water in just about every airport.

Keith said...

I love to watch airplanes but don’t like airports.  They really are all the same to me.  I will say the Baku, Azerbaijan Terminal 2 is particularly smoky, empty, and less than comfortable.

Favorite restaurant of the first month?  Best meal and worst meal you have eaten?

Amy said...

I loved our food walks in Seoul and in Tokyo (watch for posts on those coming soon!); Isolina, La Lucha, and Chez Wong in Lima; and of course my amazing cotton candy shave ice in (of all places) Mister Donut in the Kyoto train station.  And one I haven’t written about: lunch with a special former student at his family in Miami during our first layover of the trip was both a great meal and a great way to kick off the trip.    

For worst meal, I don’t think there was anything that was truly bad — just things I wasn’t used to.  I always figure I have an emergency Luna bar in the hotel room so if all else fails, I won’t go to bed hungry.  Though I have had some seriously horrible iced tea as part of my quest to try to drink the local products. 

Keith said...

I have loved the food on this trip.  Check out a lot more info on the food on this blog!  Really everything from the fine dining at Carmen's in Medellin, Columbia to the grab-n-go sandwiches at convenience stores in Japan have been wonderful.  Why can’t we have food like this in Chicago?

I don’t know that I’ve had a “worst” meal.  I guess I would have to say the incredibly bland piece of “chicken” on the aforementioned Korean Air flight.

 Chef Wong Chez Wong Lima, Peru

Chef Wong
Chez Wong
Lima, Peru

What has been most surprising about your trip following the red dot?

Amy said...

We’ve been incredibly fortunate.  We’ve had some flight delays and some stressful moments, but in the first month, we didn’t really have any bad experiences.  Every time things seemed like they were going off the rails, some kind stranger stepped in and helped (or at least tried to, which still helped in its own way). 

Keith said...

Meeting people, experiencing the world, and experiencing the excitement for the reddotbluedot website.

What has been most difficult about your time following the red dot?

Amy said...

It’s (surprisingly) been hard to make time for things other than travel and work.  Going to the gym, calling friends, reading, etc. have fallen by the way side, so I want to work on those in the next month.    

Keith said...

Finding high quality internet to work.  I still need to get paid.  And balancing the desire to work with the reality that the world is right outside the door.  It is a huge adjustment going from 8-5 in an office to the world as my office.  I can work day or night, and often due to time zones I have had to.  Learning that balance is difficult.

What are you most excited about in the next month?

Amy said...

Going to some countries that are less commonly visited by Americans and seeing friends who are meeting us along the way.

Keith said...

I have always photographed urban and rural decay.  More interesting to me has been railroad and industrial decay.  One of the crown jewels of this type of photography (although I’m possibly a little late to the game) is Pripyat, Ukraine.  This is in the exclusion zone created by the Chernobyl power plant nuclear disaster in 1986.  Founded in 1970, declared a city in 1979 with over 49,000 residents, vacant by mid-1986, this is a place I’ve wanted to photograph for years.  Good news is, I have a reservation for entry to the exclusion zone and I’ll be there in the next month! 

Favorite place to photograph so far?

Amy said...

Other than Machu Picchu, where it’s impossible to take a bad photograph, I would probably say Nara, Japan.  It has amazing architecture, as well as wild but friendly deer, and taking photos of the deer and people interacting with them was really fun.

Keith said...

Many amazing places.  I think the street photography in Japan was incredible.

Favorite photograph so far?

Amy said...

For favorite photograph in general, it’s one Keith took of me petting a llama with Machu Picchu in the background.  Other people at Machu Picchu were sitting there in full hair and make-up (even though we were in line for the bus at 4:30 a.m.!) with multiple camera angles and costume changes (I’m not kidding!) trying to get the perfect “Insta” shot.  I was amazed and horrified by the whole thing, particularly when they were exchanging sweaters (even though it was warm and there’s no shade) and discussing camera angles, lighting, editing their bodies and faces, and follower numbers.  I just happened to be petting a llama, Keith told me to look up, and the photo is amazing.

For photos I took, it’s one of Keith in the middle of an art installation in Lima.  The exhibit consists of an object suspended by string.  Keith has a look of “this is crazy!” on his face, which I think is a good metaphor for our trip.    

Keith said...

The next one I take.  Come on, I had to say that right?

 Amy's favorite photograph?

Amy's favorite photograph?