I decided over a year ago that I wanted to travel before starting graduate school, and I began really working on the trip around December of 2007. Here's the plan:
March 08 - leave job
4.15.08 - Chicago to Kuala Lumpur (via LA) - 5 weeks in Southeast Asia
5.21.08 - Bangkok to New Delhi - 4 weeks in India
6.16.08 - Mumbai to Dubai - 3 days in Dubai
6.19.08 - Dubai to Alexandria - 4 weeks in Egypt
7.19.08 - Luxor to Accra - 2 weeks in Ghana
8.02.08 - Accra to Casablanca - 1 week in Morocco
8.08.08 - Casablanca to Chicago
August 08 - start grad school
Traveling is easy when you're young. I have the time and money to go on a serious trip, and I want to travel while I still enjoy experiences that require some... suspension of comfort? Or maybe I'll never outgrow that. Tuzin Yowis travels by getting a plane ticket from Chicago to Moscow, and 6 weeks later a ticket back from Beijing. She's 77.
Anyway, here's why I chose these places:
SE Asia - Despite being inundated with tourists (I feel like the driver who complains about traffic...), everyone seems to love it. Cheap, great hiking, killer temples/ruins, world class diving, different culture. Every review I got of SE Asia was glowing.
India - Over a billion people live in India. That's a lot of humanity, such culture. I ought to see it. When I had to chose between seeing China, which got mixed reviews, and India, which I hadn't heard anything about, Tuzin Yowis made it easy: "Jake, I've been to 135 countries, and India is my second favorite. Go." [Laos was #1] Plus, being a vegetarian in India? Easy.
Dubai - I'm only staying here for three days. It was a cheap addition to the itinerary, and it sounds just crazy. Man-made islands shaped like a map? This happens in Dubai? How tall? I gotta see it.
Egypt - Okay, I don't even know why, but I'm dying to go to Egypt. It just sounds rad. Maybe I'll get there and be super disappointed that I'm in modern Egypt. "I wanted ANCIENT Egypt," I'll complain. But I get both! And it doesn't hurt that Egypt is a super secret diving mecca. Believe it. When SCUBA Travel had readers vote on their favorite dive sites, Egypt got six in the top twenty. That beats Australia, the Caribbean, and Hawaii combined.
Ghana - I know nothing about Africa. You might be able to fill the largest canyon in Africa with what I don't know about Africa? South Africa's in the south, and Egypt's top right, and that about does it for my expertise. My buddy Calvin is from Ghana, and when we chatted, I learned that Ghanans say, "Man, Jake, you don't know anything about my country," which was good, because I wasn't sure if they spoke English or French. I'm gonna learn so much.
Morocco - Let's go to Morocco, why not?
Okay, I'm done blogging.