‘Round The World Q&A

As a person – especially as an American – who took extended time to travel around the world, you get a lot of questions.  From friends and family at home of course but also from those on the road.  There are not many Americans out there quitting good jobs, leaving houses, cars, friends, comforts…leaving “home”…to explore.

This week, I offer a little Q&A.

And I have already answered question 1 –

Why?

I went to explore.  I wanted to see more of the world.  Yes, before I left, I already had spent weeks on every continent in the world excluding Antarctica. No, those previous trips were not enough.  I’m afraid it is still not enough.  You see, this world, the places and especially the people are magical.  I cannot get enough of exploring the world.  I would go back to all of the same places I went this time on the same route because the trip would be totally different.  My journey was to see a few new places and a few I had visited before, just to explore. It was really that simple.

I also like to live a life where I am able to start sentences with “I remember…” rather than “I should’ve…” .

 Explorer

While traveling, other travelers ask why more Americans do not do this?

First, for those unaware, a long term trip is the norm for most Europeans, Australians and our neighbors to the north in Canada.

I tell them most Americans are scared.  I told them most people are not just scared about long term travel but many people are scared to even use the entirety of the average of 2 weeks of paid leave we are generously apportioned each year in the USA.  (While most travelers know about our 2 weeks, we will still spend a good five minutes discussing how this is absolute lunacy to only have 2 WEEKS!)  When we finish comparing the year of maternity leave in Canada and 4 – 6 weeks the average Euro receives annually of paid leave, I mention that many people are afraid the world will end if they do not work for 2 weeks.

I think it is just ingrained in the American psyche – not that we are so important in our jobs that the world ends if we take a couple weeks off –  at not everyone…I know a few who think like this though…it’s just that we make work a priority.  We associate our work with our life or our work with our self in America. So we work our asses off until we finally have to stop and we retire…(and then we get a retirement job.  I do not mention this concept to anyone though…they already think we are luny.)  In the end however, it is not so much fear but comfort which keeps us Americans at “home”. We do not like to feel vulnerable or uncomfortable.  Taking off for a long period of time scares us back into our comfort zones.

We are changing though.  There are not as many of us on the road as our neighbors to the north or friends across the oceans but more and more Americans are leaving jobs, homes, “comfort” behind with the only gift upon return being a very uncertain future…when or if they return…

Then they ask if its true mod American’s do not have passports…

I tell them I do not think it is as bad as most people make it out to be. (This article actually and I believe accurately figures that about 42% of American’s have passports.) We are not that low if 42% is accurate. The issue is that we just do not use our passports enough.  And when we do use them, we tend more toward to the all-inclusive Jamaica go “get our moneys worth” of food, booze and cheap smoke styles of travel.   I don’t blame anyone for taking those vacations. They are easy, cheap and in beautiful locations.  When you only get two weeks, may as well spend those two weeks a little F’d up, am I right…? :) It would just be cool if more people left the resort and took a look at life outside the resorts walls or caught a peak behind the bus station to see what Mexico or Jamacia are really like…Thats all.

Behind the Bus Station

On the Road, I’m often asked about my home town of Kansas City.  Like what it is like and where is Kansas City?

I told most people we are in the middle of the USA.  No, it is not flat.  (We are a rolling country side.)  And mainly we are a rustic group of ruggedly handsome and sporting people who like to smoke meat, call it BBQ and drink beer.  And there is this Silicone Prairie thing going on …and our sister city is Seville Spain…and interesting fact, the street outside of the train station in Seville is Kansas City Avenue…but we prefer to be handsome, smoke meat and drink beer and not worry about all of that other stuff too much.  For those who had seen the Wizard of OZ and associate Kasnas City, Missouri with Kansas, like the movie…I’ll just say thank you again for the Toto and tornado comments/jokes.  Those never get old. To refresh what I have taught the world, remember, there is a difference between KANSAS and MISSOURI.

Kansas = Little dogs named Toto, Wicked Witches and everyone wears sequined slippers…everyone.

Missouri = Tigers, smoked meat and beer drinking.

My favorite location?

Overall, Bhutan.  But I would go back to China in a second just to eat.  The food in China blew me away.  And I still like Nepal…I would keep going back there.

Really, Chinese food?  Do not say better than Italy…

Well, it is kind of hard to compare generally as both are very diverse cuisines but on this trip, I liked the food in China more than Italy.  Here is the lesson – in both countries, the best food is simple.  Few ingredients with a touch of technique and lot of history make the most amazing dishes in the world.

A question I ask myself – Why do you really do this? (Not that BS “Just to explore” answer you give above…)

I travel because I am genuinely interested in learning what life is like outside of the resort walls and behind the bus station.  If I could have a super power, it would be to speak every language in the world.  I could imagine nothing greater than being able to really converse with the world rather than navigate with smiles and thumbs ups.

I also travel because I like the vulnerability that comes with not knowing how to converse with the world.  With being a strange face in what is a strange land.  I like that uncomfortable feeling you get when you get in a cab in Kathmandu and wonder what the fuck am I doing here – because you are surrounded by poverty & chaos…and if you can trust this person to take you where you want to go.

Being vulnerable forces you to open your heart and be authentic.

Authenticity is the real reason I travel.  I feel more like me.  Not the corporate Grant or Chef Grant or even travel blogger Grant – just Grant. So I guess the real reason I took this trip was to explore how I can just be Grant when I am “home”.

So when I do spend more hours in the kitchen or back in the corporate world, I learned how to keep a more authentic version of me, with me. Not just with me when I’m Taking the Long Way Home.

Authenticity is the real reason I took this journey.

And now, the most popular question! This was #1 whether I was sitting in a Mongolian Ger or cavorting around Kansas City – 

What are you going to do next? 

(You homeless unemployed idiot – Did you not check with the economic gods before you left? We are in an unemployable recession…Good Luck Hippie!)

Most people do not vocalize the italics. A few people I just see that level of comment/fear in their eyes…What is next is a very fair question though.  On my site I have alluded to more coming with Journey’s of Good and this is true.  I have some ideas to expand and I’m going to work on that as my own little project as time permits but Journeys of Good will not be a full time career.

You didn’t have some sort of epiphany out there?

Nope.  Lots of inspiration. No moments where I just knew I had to build an orphanage in Nepal, teach english in Bhutan or go find some money to get after Journeys of Good.  (I wasn’t hoping for one of these either, that also seems to be a popular question. I did go to explore…not for a life epiphany.)

Going to pursue a career as a travel blogger?

No. I’m home in Kansas City at the moment and I do not have any travel planned until February 5th.  (Des Moines, Iowa!)  I absolutely love sharing stories, pictures and making videos.  I could do that full time via this blog.  I also love a bit more security than this provides.  I do not know how much people can earn blogging but I know I would not survive very long in the most affordable countries based on the revenues my sites 90 Facebook likes and around 5000 all time hits has generated…(About a dollar a month, FYI.)

I cannot lie – A corporate world with 2 – 4 weeks of paid time off is rough for a soul who likes to explore but it is a world which provides security I appreciate. It is a world that, when approached as a more authentic Grant, is going to allow me to do more than I thought possible.

Yes, as of today, I think I am going to get a “real job”.

Pandolfis then Chef Grant?

No, I will not be at the restaurant.  I love Jake and Pandolfi’s will always be part of my life but it is not my day to day.  Besides, Chef Daniel is kicking ass and the dinners launching 1.25.2013 at Pandolfis in Columbus Park are going to blow up.  I’m excited to see their success.

So what are you going to do?

Yes, I may go back to Healthcare IT Project Management so get ready colleagues :)

(Picture of a Monkey in a Kimono is from Japan and is in no way related to corporate life…its just a cute picture of a monkey at work, wearing a kimono.)

I am also planning to take the Foreign Service Officer test.  (Thats why I’m heading to Des Moines.)  Its a long process to work in an official position with the State Department however. Its long even if I pass the test on the first go.  (Which is rare.)  Too many variables to even hope or hint that this is a reality at this point.  I just love the idea of being an official representative of the USA to the world outside of our border – so I’m going to give it a go.

No matter what I do in my day to day though, I am going to keep blogging, sharing pictures, videos and commenting on life…I’m going to keep it authentic, keep smiling and having fun by sharing Grant, via this site – even if I’m not in some strange land thousands of miles from home.

I hope everyone continues to enjoy following along as much as I enjoy sharing.

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4 Responses to “‘Round The World Q&A”

  1. Rob Swenson
    January 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    One of my best travel memories is when a tuk-tuk taxi in Bangkok took me on a “tour” of the places that gave him gas money for bringing tourists. I got some nice hand made shirts from a taylor and a few other miss-adventures.
    Have you considered a job at a tour guidebook company or possibly leading tours?

  2. Rob Swenson
    January 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Yours is a sad commentary on American life. We spend all our time toiling to define ourselves and our lifes and then “leave our minds” for vacation in Jamaica. Apparently we’re not curious nor introspective as a culture.

  3. debbie cansler
    January 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I love you GC!!!!!:) You make me smile…..mom

  4. Joel
    January 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Well explained Grant. Well done! Very clear. I appreciated and resonated with where you went here. Great post. I love you!! ~dad

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