By Leslie D. Rose
They say you should travel the world when you’re young. One Baton Rouge couple listened.
In June, Will Minton and Elizabeth Bartlett Minton will embark on a strategically planned world trip, starting in the United States and going as far as China before making their way back to North America, visiting more than 20 countries in between.
The trip begins with a flight to Salt Lake City, a drive to Yellowstone then to San Francisco before heading back to Louisiana, and then a drive to Massachusetts where they will visit family, park their car, and take off to the other continents.
“As we’re doing this, we are going to be visiting schools and keeping a blog,” Minton said. “The blog will be half travel, half education.”
Minton said visiting schools makes taking a chunk out of his life for travel feel more comfortable.
The couple, both age 31 and employed at Teach for America, said they always knew world travel was something they wanted to do. In 2012, they began the process of saving for the grand tour, a sum upwards of $40 thousand to cover travel and living expenses for roughly one year, unemployed and away from home.
Their schedule goes like this: Peru. Chile. Argentina. South Africa to Tanzania via ground travel. Switzerland. Germany. Poland Eastern Europe – Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece all being likely stops. Turkey. Singapore. Thailand. Cambodia. Vietnam. China—over land to Beijing. Vancouver. United States.
Of the countries, Minton said he is most excited about South Africa because of its landscape. Bartlett Minton is amped to see Istanbul, Turkey because of its record of having the best education system in the world.
So there’s a tour schedule, saved money and high excitement levels, but what does it really take to travel the world?
Budgeting, Mapping, and Research.
There are Visas, vaccinations, and a bunch of laws to become familiar with before embarking on a wide-spread trip such as the one the Minton’s will take.
Passport Health has been a useful resource; aside from just providing vaccinations, the business also gave the Minton’s a binder of laws and other information regarding the countries they will visit.
“It doesn’t give a whole rundown of the things that are different, but it points out the things that American most commonly struggle with,” Bartlett Minton said.
“In Singapore you can get publically caned if you spit in the street, so that’s troublesome,” Minton said. “We are also worried about the ambiguity of what’s going to be okay in China.”
Since they will be blogging from their trip, Minton said they have also done lots of tech research.
“A lot of what we know about the day-to-day is by reading other people’s travel blog—their advice is very valuable,” Minton said.
One of the things they learned from various blogs is that local SIM cards are available in every country they will visit—this will save hundreds of dollars in device use.
They have also purchased travel insurance which covers a variety of scenarios from evacuation due to terrorism to flying a family member out in the event a party is injured or shipping remains back to the U.S. should one of them die.
“Overall I think Americans tend to be too afraid of what happens outside of our country,” Minton said. “In my experience traveling around, people who I’ve met have been so much friendlier to me as a traveler than I think Americans are to foreigners in our country.”
And while they are well prepared, the biggest thing for both of them will be shutting off their activist spirits and ensuring that they are respectful of the variety of cultures they will see, even if they do not personally agree.
For Bartlett Minton, this will mean submission in areas where women are in American terms, undervalued.
“I think [women’s issues] is one the things that may bother me when I’m there, but right now I’m at peace with it,” Bartlett Minton said. “I know things are going to happen, but I plan to be open and respectful.
That’s what the blog is for—if you know you can write about it later, there’s an internal pause button you can press.”
Minton is concerned with public transportation, mostly vehicles moving at high speeds around guard-less cliffs.
He’s also prepared to play movie star and pose for lots of photos, while being stared at here as an anomaly.
“I’ve been confused for being a movie star before, no one in particular, but just like ‘you’re American—every American I’ve ever seen is in a movie,” he said. “And yeah, I’ll take the pictures!”
The Minton’s take off on June 22 and should be returning to their car in Massachusetts on May 16, 2016.
Upon their return to Baton Rouge, they will need to find work before resuming life as normal.