Conversation with my good friend, Kim, another avid traveler.
Ah, yes. The desire to travel and see the world is something I've had my entire life, and for the most part, it seemed like such a fantasy world to live such a life. Being tied down with school, work, and crushing debt really puts a damper on those dreams, yeah? So what did I do?
I became a person with an obsessive desire to pore over maps, globes, travel magazines/websites/blogs, and everything else I could get my hands and eyes on. TripAdvisor.com and Kayak.com became my havens. Not only would I use sites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet to research cities and countries I was interested in, I would then go to Kayak.com to find flights. It wasn't enough to just see when and where these flights to my desired city were taking off, I went as far to look up what kind of plane it was. I looked up how long my layovers would be.
Once I reached my destination, I took to TripAdvisor to see where I would be staying. Where is the nearest train station from my hotel/hostel? I'd google subway maps in each city to try and familiarize myself with how each system works and what station I would get on and get off at depending on where I wanted to go. With the amount of time I've spent looking at street views via Google Earth and looking up public transportation maps in other cities, I'm surprised the NSA hasn't contacted me yet for a job.*
By the time I went to London in July, I was already pretty familiar with how the tube worked and I already knew how to get to certain places I wanted to see. I was setting out for a specific location in London with a group of girls on my trip, and I was leading the way and explaining what station we were to get on and off at. I remember having this exchange with one of them:
"I thought you've never been to London before?"
"Then how do you know how to get there already?"
"Oh, I looked up the London Underground map way before our trip and looked up stations and stuff."
Hey, I never said my obsession was normal...
I know from the outside it seems like I must have OCD or I'm just super detail-oriented and I need to make sure everything is planned out perfectly, but honestly I'm not like that at all. I'm actually a pretty laid back, go with the flow kind of traveler. I enjoy doing these things and looking up these tiny details because it provides me comfort when I'm sitting at home daydreaming about when I'll be able to travel and go places I've longed to see for my entire life.
It's one thing for me to sit there and say, "Someday I'll get to Japan." But it's an entirely different thing for me to imagine taking off in a Boeing 777 at 5:35 PM at JFK, finally landing in Tokyo 14 hours later, then knowing which train I need to take to get to my affordable and clean hostel located in the heart of Tokyo.
Sometimes looking up the specifics of my fantasy trips are the closest things I have to actually getting there and experiencing it in real life. Knowing the ins and outs of a city's subway system, looking up Google street views of areas I'd like to visit, finding the booking availability of hostels, these are things that make it real to me when I'm sitting at home wishing I could just get up and go to the airport and be somewhere else in the world.
So while I'm not in a position in my life to have the ability to travel to these places, at least I can always rely on these travel porn sites to help curb my travel addiction. ;)
*Seriously though, don't spy on me. I'm sadly really boring. You'd just be wasting everyone's time.