What if?

What if you could travel the world and money and time is not a concern? Would you go on a round-the-world trip? How would you go about doing it? Will you go alone? Or will you bring a friend? Where would you go? Which countries are a must see? Will you go on a luxury trip? Or would you have to budget your finances carefully? What if you have no option in this, because the most luxurious place you can stay in the islands off Vanuatu is in fact a shithole? What if your friend who is an annoying little twat wants to come along? Will you allow him to join your RTW? What if he tells you that he needs western toilets everywhere he stays? And if there is no toilet paper, what would he do? Do you even care?

Why not just go alone? What do you really want to get out of this trip? Is it because you need a getaway? Why not just take a weekend staycation in a local five star hotel and blog about your wonderful ‘travel experience’? Or do you actually want to realise your dreams and see the world? Which idiot came up with the word ‘staycation’ anyway? Maybe you want to explore different cultures and meet the locals? Or have full moon parties in the beaches of Thailand? Aren’t you such a cliche?

Have you looked through your bucket list of countries to visit? Is it possible to plan a route that covers everything without having to backtrack? Does it make sense to buy an RTW ticket? If so, which airline? And is it open jaw? Why is airline food so bad? Does anyone even pay attention to the airplane safety demonstrations nowadays? What if they had supermodels doing the safety demonstration? Would you pay attention then?

Will you fly from country to country? Or would you rather go overland? Will you hire a car and a driver to bring you to the border? Maybe you might want to consider the cross-country train? Or will you take the public bus? What if the bus ride is an excruciating 16 hour ordeal through northern Pakistan? The scenery along the Karakoram highway is beautiful, is it not? Would that justify sitting in a cramped space with your backpack on your lap throughout? How come the bus does not stop for toilet breaks? Why does everyone one in this frigging bus seem to have superhuman bladders? What if you really, really need to pee? Will you then shout for the bus driver to stop? “Hello mister driver, can you please stop so I can pee?” What is that translated to Urdu? Will everyone in the bus with their superhuman bladders laugh at you? Maybe before the next bus ride you should do a little planning? How about not drinking anything for the next 16 hours so that you would not have the urge to relief yourself? Doesn’t that sound utterly ridiculous? But what if the alternative is a random god-knows-when stop where everyone lines up by the roadside, hitches up their shalwar kameez and empties their bladder in a contest to see who can shoot the furthest? How about the women in the bus, don’t they have to go? These women really do have superhuman bladders, don’t they?

How about visas? Will you get them before you leave home? What if the visa is only valid for three months, what then? Why do some countries have the most stupid visa requirements? Are they so determined to keep out tourists? Why do you need a confirmed hotel booking, an itinerary and a flight ticket out in order to get a Chinese visa? Why can’t they just go visa-free, it’s not like we tourists want to overstay in China for 6 months and laze around in the hostel all day, under the pretext of “learning Chinese”, right? Right?

Since we are talking about hostels, where would you stay on your RTW? Will you stay in hotels or hostels? Is AirBnB an option. especially if you were headed to Sochi? Or maybe a good idea is to couchsurf? But what if all your Turkish couchsurfing host wants to do is hit on you? What if his house smells faintly of onions and it permeates through all your clothes and you cannot stand the smell and all you want to do is to flee from his home? Wouldn’t that be rude? What is the etiquette of couchsurfing? Must you bring a gift for your host? Or do you have to cook for him as a gesture of thanks for hosting you? What if all you can come up with is instant noodles? How come supermarkets in Turkey don’t stock instant noodles? Don’t they eat ramen? Can you just live on kebabs everyday? What is the difference between an Adana kebab and an Iskender Kebab? Don’t they all taste the same? Isn’t a kofte kebab just a doner kebab on a stick? Have you tried asking that to a Turkish kebab connoisseur who gets so appalled that you don’t know the difference between an Adana and an Iskender that he spends the next 30 minutes explaining to you about various kinds of kebabs? When in your mind all you want is a packet of instant noodles?

What will you pack on your RTW trip? Will you bring a backpack or a suitcase? How heavy will your luggage be? Won’t you have to carry everything you have on your shoulders? Do you really need to bring five pairs of jeans? Are you going to bring along your favourite red socks? What if you are in Bosnia and everyone else is wearing black jackets and black socks and you look like a complete idiot in your red socks? What if you are in a mall in Sarajevo and a blonde Bosnian supermodel is about to come up to you and chat you up and notices your red socks and immediately changes her mind and walks away? Maybe it wasn’t the red socks, maybe you just smell funny? Could it have been the onions from your Turkish couchsurfing friend?

How would you keep in touch with everyone back home? Will you use Facebook? Or will you Skype your way through the world? Will you keep a blog so that family and friends can keep track of your travels? Will your blog be updated regularly or will you decide to go “Fuck it, I’ll update the blog when I get home” and then realise you have a backlog of 6 months worth of posts to update? What will you do then? Will you create a stupid blog post asking all sorts of questions incessantly and hope your readers won’t notice that your last RTW recap post was more than a month ago?

What if you could travel the world and money and time is not a concern? Would you go on a round the world trip?

ps. If you have not yet realised, every sentence in this article is a question. the idea behind this post comes from Padget Powell’s ‘The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?” which is a good read that you should definitely check out and perhaps pick up for your travels.

pps. Everything in the article happened, except for the bit about onions.

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