I’ve finally got enough money so that this is absolutely, unquestioningly going ahead. I also have a schedule of sorts… well, I want to be in France by mid-September before Jean-Phillipe comes back to Australia. So the plan is something like this (imagine me waving my hands in complicated patterns in the air and saying "this is precisely your solution space!"):
- Mid August: US west coast, mainly Palo Alto (Stanford) and San Francisco, and I’ll probably spend a few days in the Los Angeles area since a friend will be living there by then. I hope to divert to the mountains and national parks which are kinda-sorta in the vicinity. Ish.
- Late August, early September: US east coast, including DC, Boston and New York. I’ve more or less abandoned my plan of driving across the US — that would be more likely to happen if I was travelling with someone else who could drive, but I don’t fancy doing all the driving — and I don’t fit in buses so at this stage I’m planning to fly. I don’t fit in planes either (oh trans-Pacific leg, how I dread you) but they go faster.
- Early/mid September: UK and France
- After that: eh, we’ll follow our nose. I don’t have anyone to visit between western Europe and Beijing.
The earlier set of dates will hopefully be firmer within two weeks because we need to give a number of people in the US and western Europe advance warning of our plans, but after France I really am hoping to travel without a tight schedule.
I’ll be back in Australia late October at the latest unless my estimates of how much money I’ll be spending are wrong, and to be honest, they’re more likely to be under and see me back in Australia by the end of August, a whole two weeks after I left, than they are to see me still overseas in November.
I’m really hoping that I won’t completely run out of money by, say, Boston, but I’m not sanguine. I thought last week "surely you can live cheaper than AU$3000 a month in these places?" and my mother made soothing noises, but then I remembered how high rents are in Boston and realised that people there are actually paying AU$1000 – AU$1500 a month (about half my after-tax pay) just for accommodation. Yikes.
I’ll definitely trade-off cheap accommodation against having some money to spend on food and sights, but even so, accommodation is going to really hurt.
Everyone keeps saying "spend more time in fewer places" but you know, none of them recommend the same places. My grandmother, for example, says I can’t come back to Australia without seeing Florence. Mos and Jean-Phillipe say that Paris is a necessity. A number of people have recommended Athens (some of them even think it would be worth being there during the Olympics). Everyone’s in favour of Prague, although whether it’s for history and sights or cheap beer varies depending on who I ask. It’s fortunate, after all, that people aren’t quite that keen to sell the sights of the US, or I’d never get even halfway around the world.