Welcome to the second in a series of traveler spotlights, profiling some of my fellow thirty-something travelers who are getting ready to take a break from their everyday lives to travel – not just for a week or two, but for 4 months, 8 months, or even longer. If you missed it, check out last week’s interview with Megan Shaw.
This week’s interview is with Scott Hartbeck, who plans to depart on a round-the-world (“RTW”) trip early in 2012. Scott is from St. Louis and also considers Las Vegas a second home as he lived there for a couple years in the early 00’s. You can follow Scott’s adventures at WorldwideScott.com or on Twitter at @WorldwideScott.
You’ve been to Europe 4 times before – what was it about your first trip that got you hooked on traveling?
Honestly, I was hooked on traveling and backpacking before I ever knew what a Eurail pass was. My wanderlust was likely ignited during the summer of ’99 when three buddies from college and I spent the summer in Destin, Florida. We spent our days at the beach, our evenings working at tourist restaurants, and our nights toasting to the sunrise. I felt completely alive the entire summer, and while we stayed in one place for 90 days, it taught me that you actually can do those types of things you dream about but tend to only see in the movies. When I landed in London 7 years later, the familiar feeling of “living out your dreams” was there, and if felt like home.
How long have you been planning your RTW trip and what motivated you to do it?
I have been planning my RTW adventure since I departed Rome on my last European trip in September 2010. I was so glum and gutted sitting on the tarmac that another adventure to Europe was coming to an end. I knew it was time to finally make the inevitable leap to a longer trip and to dedicate things to travel full-time.
I know you want to keep your exact itinerary a surprise, but when are you leaving and how long do you plan to be gone?
This is a bit fluid, but I am planning on leaving around New Year’s Eve, but my drop dead date is the Tuesday after the Super Bowl (assuming there is one), February 7th, 2012. I plan on being gone 12-14 months.
How did your friends and family react to your plans? Have they been supportive?
The family has been completely supportive. They had to know this day was coming, and have recently commented actually that they have never seen me happier. Obviously, they fret over safety issues and the humorous and irrational fear I could end up on Locked Up Abroad (knock on wood), but my Dad has even told me he would love to help chip in on my first flight out of the country. My basset hound Holly is in the dark still though and I plan on leaving it that way.
Are there any experiences or activities you are particularly looking forward to?
Wow, well this answer could go on for paragraphs, but I will try to just narrow it down to one rambling “tip of the iceberg” list: Discovering out-of-the-way cantinas & street food in Mexico City, Being a beach bum in Belize, wine country in Argentina, the Lake District of Chile, watching Euro 2012 games with thousands of cheering fans, Mid Summer’s Night celebrations in Scandinavia, swimming in the clear blue water of the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. Ok, I can’t list too many more; I’m getting too excited for the trip to start.
What has been the biggest challenge in preparing for your trip?
My only challenge is financial, plain and simple. Will I make enough money to hit my goal? I work in a restaurant so things can be a bit unpredictable.
What kind of a budget have you set for your travels?
Well, I will say that my budget will probably be around 60% of what I have generally seen one would need for a proper 12 month RTW. My plan though is to spend at least 3 months out of the year working somewhere and it is my hope that I can balance out things in this manner. I think I was totally made to bartend in a hostel bar actually.
What are your plans for after your trip has ended?
Oh, let’s not think about it ending! Well, if I have to speculate, I actually can see myself moving back to Las Vegas at some point or spending a few years in Cleveland where I have a large group of fun and hilarious friends from college. Whatever the geographic situation is though, I plan on spending the next several years dedicated to travel. Who knows? This may be just episode one of a RTW trilogy or more!
If you could ask any previous RTW traveler any question, what would it be?
How truly available is temporary work out there on the road? I am banking heavily on this, and while I know it’s doable, I am very curious about the real story.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about planning a RTW trip?
From the time you step off the plane, you will be making memories that you will long to relive for the rest of your life. Even the mundane things will become magical … DO IT, DO IT!