Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Countdown to RTW: One Month!

It's now 2012 — the year I'll travel the world.

I'm incredibly excited, but also freaked out that my trip is happening so soon! My townhouse lease ends on January 31, so I have less than a month to get rid of my furniture, car and other crap, buy all the travel stuff I need, tie up loose ends, pack and be ready to go.

I should also buy a plane ticket to New Zealand at some point, right?

Luckily I thrive under the pressure of a looming deadline — I was a journalism major who loved to hammer out all her stories at the last minute — and the fact that my departure is now in sight is such an incentive to get movin'.

It's starting to feel real.


A NEW FRIEND, PLUS BONUS TRAVEL GEAR

I ended 2011 with a few fun activities that didn't directly relate to travel planning.

Last week, I met up with a Seattle Twitter friend, Mindi, for coffee at the lovely new Milstead & Co. in Fremont. Mindi is a proud member of the green-aproned mafia (works for Starbucks) and shared with me her plentiful coffee expertise, of which I have approximately none.

We also chatted about running, traveling, blogging and more. It was a delightful meetup on a rainy afternoon. I love it when an Internet friend becomes a real-life friend!

Mindi also generously gave me several Eagle Creek packing cubes and a small camera bag left over from her days of frequent travel as a sports journalist. Score! Thank you, Mindi!


ENDING THE YEAR ON A HIGH NOTE

The last activity I did in 2011 was pretty cool — I flew!



My dad and I spent an afternoon at iFLY Seattle, where a powerful vertical wind tunnel simulates the experience of skydiving. I've been skydiving twice before, but I was still a little nervous to jump into the 90+ mile/hour wind at iFLY!



My dad reserved our flights ahead of time, and we arrived plenty early to check in and watch other fliers in action. About 30 minutes before our flights, we watched a brief instructional video and learned hand signals from an instructor. Then we each got geared up with a flight suit, goggles, earplugs and a helmet.

Once it's time to fly, each person jumps into the wind for one minute while the instructor helps position his or her body correctly. If you're too stiff, don't keep your chin up or don't have your arms and legs spread just so, you fall to the bottom rather than fly up high.

It's more difficult than it looks!



My dad had trouble breathing through his nose, so he kept his mouth open. The high-speed wind caused him to make some pretty funny faces!



We each flew twice for a total of two minutes. You can also pay more for longer periods of flight, but I had plenty of fun in just two minutes.

The instructor told me that iFLY is actually more difficult than real skydiving, and I thought the two experiences felt completely different. I'd say that if you're afraid to jump out of a plane but still want to fly, definitely try indoor skydiving. At $60 for a standard session, it's also much more affordable than a $200+ real skydive.

If you have the guts and the funds, though, go for the real thing! There's nothing quite like free-falling down to the earth. There's also nothing quite like the sense of relief you feel the moment that parachute opens. : )


MORE ADVENTURES AHEAD

I hope to do lots of fun stuff throughout my travels, although I'm good on skydiving for a while and don't know if I have the guts to try bungee jumping — eek! Extreme activities also tend to be the most expensive, so I want to pick and choose wisely.

I'm definitely going to go ZORB globe riding in New Zealand, though. How can I pass up the chance to roll down a hill in a giant plastic bubble??

I'm also open to suggestions. Be sure to let me know about any activities I MUST try as I make my way around the world!

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13 comments:

  1. Go into the thermal springs in New Zealand. David and I camped at this place http://www.hotpools.co.nz/. It was fun and relaxing. Also, a random piece of advice that I didn't know when I was traveling... make sure to keep at least $200 USD on you because for instance in Indonesia, when you got off the plane it was $100 USD (only) for a visa stamp. Thankfully I was traveling with someone more saavy than me because I would have been stuck if he didn't bail me out. We traveled around the north Island of NZ a lot, so if you need other recommendations, let David or I know!

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  2. Thank you for the tips, Ali! This is exactly the kind of advice I need!

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  3. http://www.waitomo.com/black-water-rafting.aspx - The labyrinth tour / or black abyss tour are awesome depending on how adventurous you are, and off course white water rafting was the best thing I ever did in New Zealand. Terrifying, but not on the level of jumping out of a plane or bunji jumping.

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  4. My two friends did the Nevis Arc swing and loved it. Katie has done skydiving and all sorts of other extreme sports and she said that the swing was one of the best.

    http://www.bungy.co.nz/the-nevis/the-nevis-swing

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  5. @Katie: The tours look awesome, and I haven't been white water rafting in years! Thanks for the suggestions.

    @Laura: Holy. Shit. AHHH! Looks fun and scaaaaary!

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  6. I found this blog while searching for running blogs. Good luck with your travels it sounds so exciting.

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  7. Hey, it's irunnyc from tumblr :) I studied abroad in Auckland, NZ for a semester and it is such an amazing, awesome, wonderful, cool place. I miss it so much. I zorb-ed in NZ and it was cool. I also bungy jumped 3 times, which you have to do at least once. Go hiking a lot! Do the Tongariro Crossing if you get a chance. Hike the Franz Josef glaciers if you can. You'll have a blast no matter what you do!

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  8. @Sara: Thank you! Hopefully I'll be able to do some running as I travel : )

    @irunnyc: Nice to see you outside of Tumblr! Thank you for the NZ tips!

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  9. I also did the black water rafting in NZ which was lots of fun. The highlight of NZ for me though was Milford Sound. It's absolutely breathtaking. I think I was lucky though as we had lovely weather, but I hear that it's mostly rather miserable.

    Have fun!

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  10. I'm worried about the weather right now, as I hear it's very rainy right now! Fingers crossed. Thanks for the Milford Sound rec!

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  11. It sounds like you had so much fun! This year, I'm pretty stressed out. But hopefully, our first class airline tickets wouldn't fail us on our filed leave.

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  12. That looks like a great way to spend my vacation. I'm very excited to try that one.

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