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My name is Gary Arndt.
In March 2007 I sold my house and have been traveling around the world ever since. Since I started traveling, I have probably done and seen more than I have in the rest of my life combined.
So far I have visited all 7 continents, over 165 countries and territories around the world, every US state and territory, every Canadian province, every Australian state and territory, over 125 US National Park Service sites and over 275 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I have also:
- Gone dog sledding in the Canadian Yukon
- Bungee jumped in New Zealand
- Floated in the Dead Sea
- Crossed the arctic circle in the Yukon
- Rode in a Formula 1 car at 180mpg (300kph) in Spain
- Been in the water with great white sharks in South Africa
- Dove in the ruins of the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt
- Had an entire remote white sand beach to myself in Fiji
- Swam with whale sharks in Australia
- Been spelunking in Borneo
- Rode the world’s highest zip line in Puerto Rico
- Rode out a tsunami in Hawaii
- Visited an active war zone in Cambodia
- Resisted the temptation to take a $5,000,000 moon rock in the Solomon Islands
- Been kicked out of the nation of Kiribati
- Experienced the Thai New Year (Songkran) in Bangkok
- Experienced Holy Week in Jerusalem
- Got caught in the middle of a political protest in Thailand
- Swam with jellyfish in Palau
- Visited many of the greatest museums on Earth
My BackgroundI wasn’t always a world traveler. Other than occasional summer vacations, my family didn’t travel very much. I grew up in Wisconsin and never saw salt water until I was 21 years old. In 1998 I sold my business to a multinational corporation and they sent me on a whirlwind 3 week tour of their offices in January 1999. I visited Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, France, Germany, Belgium and the UK.
That trip stuck with me for years. I made a few other international trips after that to the Bahamas, Iceland and Argentina, but never really made a commitment to travel.
In 2004 I decided to go back to school and study geology. After seeing the hell that PhD students were going through, the idea of going to graduate school became very unappealing.
I decided to travel around the world.
It took about 2 years for me to tie up all the loose ends I had and sell my house. Finally, on March 13, 2007 I turned over the keys to my home.
I thought I’d be traveling for a year or maybe two. So far it has been over 7 years with no end in sight!
Random Facts About Me
- I own one of the larger collection of National Geographic magazines and books in the world. I own a good condition issue of Vol. 1, No. 1. Not a reprint, and unbound. When I put my things in storage, my National Geographic collection took up most of the space. I also own National Geographic vinyl albums, VCR tapes, books, old subscription flyers, and 8mm movies.
- Prior to my trip, I’ve visited about 100 of the 380-some sites in the US National Park System. (that list is way out of date)
- I’m an Eagle Scout.
- I have 3 dimples
- I graduated college with a triple major in Mathematics, Economics and Political Science. I also placed in the top 10 my junior and senior years at the college national debate tournament.
- I love movies. I have a DVD collection of close to 700 DVD’s (mostly older and foreign films)
- I am part owner of an NFL franchise
- I have a ham radio license (KC0PED)
About the BlogWhen I went on my first around the world trip I created a small website for the people in my office to follow my trip. The word “blog” wasn’t around at the time, but I suppose it was a travel blog of sorts. I posted photos and updates, usually over dial-up connections that were available in 1999.
Given my background, when I started traveling in 2007 having a website was just a given.
About 9 months into my trip I was in Hong Kong and I began thinking seriously about what I was doing online. Not many people were reading my site. I probably knew the names of most of my readers because they were friends and family. I decided to rethink how I was doing things and began to take the site more seriously.
Fast forward several years and the blog has done alright. It was named by Time Magazine as one of the Top 25 Blogs in the World in 2010. I have about 100,000 people visit the site every month and over 22,000 RSS and email newsletter subscribers.
Photography99.99% of the photos on this website were taken by me or are of me. The photos which I did not take were either on the small number of guest posts I’ve had or were of things I didn’t have a camera around for but wanted to show (a whale shark is a good example) or I was in a place where I couldn’t take photos (like Broadway play).
I knew nothing about photography when I started traveling. I purchased a Nikon D200 and just started taking bad photos. Slowly I began to piece together why some photos were good and some were bad. I also followed photography blogs and began doing things like shooting aperture priority mode and saving files in RAW.
You can download a free ebook of my 100 favorite travel photos which looks especially good on the iPad.
Q: What is your favorite place?
A: I have no answer to this question. There is no one best place in the world. I’m not even sure the question makes sense. I wrote my full thoughts on this question here.
Q: Why haven’t you visited India/China/Russia/Brazil/etc. yet?
A: The world is an incredibly big place and there are some places I just haven’t visited yet.
Q: Have you ever been in danger?
A: Not really. There was one time in Cambodia where I was pretty worried for a while, but in the end it was nothing. I haven’t been robbed, mugged or pick pocketed yet.
Q: How did you know what to pack?
A: I didn’t create a detailed list. I just sort of kept track of stuff in my head. I have a camera bag with electronics and a duffle/backpack with everything else. The longer I travel, the less I worry about my gear. Now I probably couldn’t even make a list of my gear off the top of my head. I throw stuff in a bag and if I need something I buy it wherever I am.
Q: How do you pay for this?
A: For the first 3.5-4 years I paid for almost everything myself. The money came from saving I had from selling my house and my business. As the website has become more popular I have more opportunities for trips sponsored by toursim boards from different countries. I also have income which is generated by my website.
Q: Where do you stay?
A: Low budget hostels or backpacker hotels. I usually don’t stay in dorms but get single rooms. That is my one luxury and what raises my costs a bit over what most people might spent. It isn’t a huge expense however. If I am on a sponsored trip, they often put me in luxury hotels. I have had many times where I stay in a youth hostel one night and a five-star hotel the next. It is very weird.
Q: Did you buy a round the world ticket?
A: No. Flights in the Pacific are a nightmare and buying more than a few stops at a time wouldn’t be worth it. Beyond the pacific, I don’t plan on flying that much unless I have to. Most of my travel will be overland.
Q: How long will you keep traveling?
A: I don’t know. I’ll know when I’m done.
Q: Do you get lonely?
A: Sometimes, but talking to people you meet on the road and having the internet available (which has been everywhere so far) makes it easier. I hope to have some of my friends join me for stretches later on in the trip. I also read a lot. The iPad and the Kindle store has been a godsend.
Q: How many languages do you know?
A: Just one: english. Honestly, knowing another language might help me in some places, but the majority of the places I’ll be it wont help much because there are so many languages. If you have to know one language while traveling, English is it. I try to know certain phrases so I can get by. People seem to like it if you at least try. I am making an effort to improve my Spanish and I know several handy phrases in German and French also.
Q: What did you do with all your stuff?
A: It is sitting in storage.