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CROSSING BORDERS: A Globetrotting Odyssey The Reflective Journal of an Unknown Vagabond

Prelude: The Big Plan

SAUDI ARABIA | Wednesday, 19 May 2010 | Views [588]


Vagabonding is all about taking some time off from your day-to-day routine and embarking on an adventure of a lifetime; parting yourself away from your normal life and out of your comfort zone for an extended time to engage in a first hand experience with the world on your own terms. It could be from 4 weeks to 5 months to even 6 years. Vagabonding is by no means just a plan of action; it is rather a lifestyle, an attitude that accentuates discovery, creativity, and the growth of one’s spirit.

With this information ages that we live in today, access to any kind of information has never been any easier. Everybody can cultivate their curiosity about the world through the various and widely available media channels and publications. But there’s nothing quite equivalent to actually seeing, touching, feeling and smelling the world through an up close and personal encounter outside of the classroom, TV screens and written pages. A statement that I once read never ceases to strike as a profound truth; “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” My dream is to read the whole book –from one cover to the other- one day!

Typically, most people in the Arab world do not harbor positive thoughts about the vagabonding travel style. Unlike some other foreign cultures (as in most of the European countries, Canada, Australia and many others) where taking some extended time off from study or work to travel overseas is carried out in masses, widely perceived as culturally acceptable and, in some cases, even encouraged, in the Arab communities, it is often viewed as a waste of time, money and one’s future. Furthermore, most view these vagabonding travelers as homeless bums, uneducated, eccentric, and some even argue that they hold no values. From my previous humble backpacking experiences I have learned that many of these travelers come from a rich or educated past, but, for one reason or another, simply decided that it was better for them to live day by day and in freely constant movement around the globe.

This kind of traveling is commonly characterized by various terms such as independent travel, budget travel which and/or backpacking. The traditional elements that evidently differentiate vagabonding and backpacking from other forms of tourism include but are not limited to the length of the trip vs. conventional 2-week vacations, use of a backpack instead of traditional travel luggage, preference of hostels and guesthouses to traditional fancy hotels, use of public transport as a means of travel, a keen interest in meeting the locals, a genuine curiosity to engage in the different foreign cultures as well as seeing and learning about the touristic and historic sights. Nonetheless, this form of travelling also has its own characteristic problems which can be derived from being alone on the road and away from family, friends and daily routine for a long period of time, to problems arising from the continuous sudden change of the trip itself moving around between different cities, from one country to another, and in between continents.


Crossing Borders is a journal that will follow the journey of one solo-traveler around the world. An ordinary guy, who –similarly to millions of others- went to school, graduated with a certificate and had peacefully embraced the secure and stable arms of his corporate cubicle undertaking the 9-to-5 routine job day in and day out -with a good pay-cheque at the end of the month- and then decided to fulfill his long-awaited dream of absenting himself from ‘home' for one full year and start an adventurous journey crossing one border after another around the world; crossing the borders of his mind, the borders of his society and the strings of the materialistic life to experience what mysteriously lies beyond the next frontier.

This journal will:

  • Attempt to accurately record the various adventures and experiences that I will come across during the course of the trip,
  • Contemplate the details of the emotional and psychological effects that might be caused by such long-term travels,
  • Tap into the stereotypes/impressions about the vagabonding and backpacking lifestyle (the lifestyle of the long-term traveler) and present the advantages as much as the disadvantages of a very different attitude towards travelling than what the majority of the people -in my part of the world- are accustomed to.
  • Shed the light on the difference between being a tourist –which is the commonly used approach of travelling during holidays in our part of the world- and being a true traveler.
  • Educate the readers with rich information related to the history, culture and the people of the countries that I will explore along the way.
  • And introduce a different form of exploring and understanding our world and our place/role in it as its citizens.

Being an emotional and intimate experiment, this journal will document and analyze my life as a vagabond/backpacker. It will be told subjectively rather than objectively. It's more of an exploration and a performance rather than journalism. It is more a journal/diary than an essay, more an autobiography than a report. Its strategy is to enter the world of the backpackers rather than observe and report on it. The Journal will try to find answers to the questions: “Who are those vagabonds? What do they want? Why did they decide to adapt to this lifestyle? Why did they decide to embark on such journey? And what did they dig up out of such experience?” the objective is to reveal the feeling, the attitude, and the position of the life of this community.


The story starts and ends in Amman (The Jordanian Capital). The route will be chosen to take me overland (mainly using public transport) around the world crossing all continents (ideally, including Antarctica).

The ideal plan is to spend duration of 2.5 months in each major continent (Europe, Asia, Africa and South America), 1 month in each of North America (including Central America) and Australia (including New Zealand) and around 1 week in the Antarctic.

The route across countries, however, will be shaped along the way to facilitate, in most parts, the fulfillment of my personal wish-list of things to do and places to see. Of course, this list will only form the broad outline of the trip’s actual route. It will merely act as the foundation of the trip’s skeleton. This approach shall leave a fair part of the route to materialize spontaneously and inadvertently to enhance the elements of thrill, tension and mystery to the overall experience.

Tags: borders, crossing, globetrotting, independent, long haul, overland, rtw, solo, travel, vagabonding


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