Right now I’m in the middle of a trip around the world. The route I’m taking will take me across three continents: North America, Asia, and Europe. Essentially, I’m circumnavigating the northern hemisphere.
The first stop on my trip is New Orleans. I’m going to be in New Orleans for Jazz Fest so that should be a lot of fun.
After that, I’m taking the “City of New Orleans” train up to Chicago.
Then, I’m continuing on to Boston to spend a couple of days, and hopefully see The Feelies in concert.
From Boston, I’m taking the train to the Grand Canyon. (My route is really bizarre, I know.)
After the Grand Canyon, I’m continuing on to Los Angeles.
After a few days in L.A., I’m taking the “Coast Starlight” up the West Coast to Seattle.
Then I’m taking the train to Minneapolis to visit my Minnesotan relatives.
After Minneapolis, I’m heading to Chicago and then taking the “California Zephyr” to San Francisco, where I’ll spend a week or so.
My first stop in Asia will be Beijing. I have to admit, my Chinese probably isn’t up to par so that should be interesting.
After Beijing, I’m taking the Trans-Siberian railway through Mongolia and across Siberia to Moscow.
After spending a couple days in Moscow, I’m flying to Stockholm. In Sweden I’ll visit friends and family and celebrate Midsommar.
Then, I’m traveling via Interrail for a month around Europe. The exact itinerary isn’t set in stone just yet, but some European countries I haven’t yet visited are Greece, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Belgium.
After traveling around Europe via train, I hope to finish the trip off in Iceland (if time and money allow).
For the North American leg of my trip, I’m using the Amtrak Rail Pass. Basically you get a month of train travel for around 500 bucks.
As I write this, I’m sitting on an Amtrak train to New Orleans. Every Amtrak train has its own name – the one I’m on right now is called the “Crescent”. Everyone I’ve talked to says that traveling on Amtrak has become their new favorite mode of transportation. At this point, I’m inclined to agree with them.
Here are some things I like about Amtrak:
- No security hassles - You don’t have to worry about any of the TSA nonsense that you’re forced to endure at airports. When you arrive at the station, you literally just hop on the train and that’s it.
- Lots of space - I’m traveling in coach class right now, and it’s fantastic. I’ve got 2-3 feet of legroom – compare that with the six inches you get in coach class on airplanes. Plus, you’re free to move around the train at any time, and there are lounge cars designed specifically for enjoying the ride.
- Power outlets everywhere - There are 120V standard power outlets along the entire length of the train. Every seat has two power outlets. Although they don’t have internet onboard, the power makes it feasible for me to use my phone for tethering internet as much as I want.
- Relaxed atmosphere - Unlike on airplanes, where everyone is uptight as a result of being treated like cattle, the people on the train are really friendly and laid-back. It’s a very humane mode of transportation.
I flew from San Francisco to Beijing for about $600. In Beijing, I used the surprisingly modern (albeit crowded) subway system as well as the ridiculously cheap taxis.
I then took the Trans-Siberian railroad to Moscow, via Mongolia. I bought a first-class ticket for about $1,300 via a British travel agency, but if I were to do it again I would book through CIS (which is precisely what the British travel agency did).
In Moscow, I used the grandiose subway system. The subway stations are like underground palaces of the proletariat, and the system is not at all expensive (for Moscow).
I flew from Moscow to Stockholm for a couple hundred dollars. While in Sweden, I used their excellent public transportation system, SL.
I then purchased an Interrail ticket which provides 10 days of rail travel over a 22 day period. I took the train down to Croatia, which is where I’m at right now.
First, I would like to say something about bags. I have seen a ton of people lugging about large backpacks in developed cities like Moscow and Copenhagen. I’ve even seen the prototypical Eurotrippers with a large backpack on their backpack and a supplementary one on their front. There is absolutely no reason to do this in developed countries! Use a bag with wheels instead - it’s ridiculous how much easier it is to carry weight thanks to the invention of the wheel.
- 2 t-shirts
- 2 long-sleeve collared shirts
- 2 pairs of pants
- 1 pair of shorts
- 4 pairs of underwear
- 3 pairs of socks
- bathing suit
- cotton jacket
- rain jacket
- 1 pair of leather walking shoes
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- leatherman multi-tool
- motorola droid
- sony-ericsson mobile phone (to use in Europe)
- laundry detergent