Frequently Asked Questions

I've answered these questions 100 times already.
When do you leave? August 28th, 2004

How long do you plan to be away? 117 Days, I return on December 22nd, 2004

How many countries will you visit? 23

Will you come home if the Red Sox make it to the World Series? This is a question I have gotten from a few website viewers. The truth is, I don’t know what my answer is. If this trip is about seeing the wonders of the world, can you imagine a a more wondrous event in the past 85 years then being in Boston after the Red Sox win? It would truly be a fascinating time to be in Boston.

That being said, however, after 31 years of having my heart ripped out and bunted by the Red Sox, I’m not sure if I can trust them to come through. It is a dilemma I hope I don’t have to face...because next year is THE YEAR! (I was wrong! The Sox won in 2004 and I did not return to Boston)

How much have you saved? $25,000 but hope to only spend about $20,000. The other $5,000 is my security blanket and cushion for when I return.

Do you speak any other languages? None. Me not even speak English good either

How did you pick your destinations? Why arent you going to this country or that site? It took a lot of soul searching to come up with my list of things that I really wanted to see before I died. I came up with a mission statement of sorts, which is: To experience the greatest natural and man made "Wonders of the World" in places where I can not reasonably or easily travel to when I become older or have small children.
The criteria for the inclusion of a site in my list is that the location must have an outstanding universal value across cultures, and throughout history from an aesthetic, (natural or man made) or from an anthropological points of view.

Man Made Wonder: The site should represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; or bear a unique and exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition/civilization which is directly associated with events, ideas, beliefs, artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.

Natural Wonder: Natural features consisting of physical and biological formations which are of outstanding universal aesthetic value, including superlative natural phenomena and areas of exceptional natural beauty and significant natural habitats for biological diversity.

In other words, any place in the world that no matter your religious or cultural background you are humbled and simply say 'Wow! That is incredible!'
Now, you may have noticed North America, Central America, and most of Europe is missing from my list. I have skipped these sites because I figure they are more accessible for a 2 week trip later in life. Plus I've already visited many of the ones in the US and Europe that would be on my list.

I realize that I may be skipping over a few Wonders that you think are 'must sees' before you die type places. For instance, many people recommend that I go to the Beaches in Thailand, or the Maldives , or Zanzibar , but with my pale, white, Irish skin, I can only stay on a beach for about hour before I start to burn. Thus beaches are not high on my list of places to visit.

Some other places were scrapped because they were so remote it would have take a month just getting to and from the place. Thus no high altitude mountain climbing.

Number of hours spent on a plane in flight (not inlcuding layovers or preboarding): 125 hours (or 5 straight days out of the 117 I am gone) with layovers and preboarding that number will almost double to about 9 days.

What place are you most excited about? Depending on the day and the guidebook I just read, the place changes. I would say Jerusalem is at the top of the list. To see the actual tomb that Jesus was buried in (and rose from depending on what you believe) and to see the street he carried the cross down, that will mess with my head. But then I think of the Pyramids and the fact that they are 5,000 years old. And then I think of the story of the Taj Mahal or the natural beauty of The Great Barrier Reef and it goes on and on. Are you getting excited for me yet?

Why did you decide to take this trip? What got you interested in this type of travel, and/or influenced you to go? I decided to take this trip for many reasons. Obviously, I love to travel and I'd rather spend my money on traveling than a new SUV with spinning rims or leather pants. It just seems like a better value to me. Another major reason is that it has been made vividly clear by tragedy touching family and friends that life is fleeting, and I should make the most of it while I have my health, my sanity (enough with the comments from the peanut gallery), the money and the motivation. It really seemed like the planets aligned in my favor and it became clear to me that if ever I was to take this trip, this is the moment. I'm not letting this moment slip by.

What is your biggest fear about this trip? Germs.Parasites.Fungi.SARS.Lice. Dirty squat hole bathrooms where my aim is off and I poop on my shoes.

Are your family, friends, co-workers, etc., supportive of you? What is their opinion of you going around the world? The responses I get are mixed. Some people express a bit of good natured jealousy along with excitement for me. Others, a little anxiety for my health and safety. Overall, I would say most everyone is supportive.

How much planning and preparing have you done? Too much.The idea of an "around the world" trip has been with me since I was a kid, but lack of money or life got in the way.It was not until around December or January that the travel bug hit hard and a New Years trip to China's Great Wall that never came to fruition, eventually morphed into the current plan. Finding out that the average year long RTW trip cost $15,000, along with knowing friends and relatives who were roughly my age and either dying or contracting/diagnosed with a disease that would prevent them from taking this type of trip, were two crucial motivators for me to stop waiting. There will never be a better time than the present. Serious planning began in May and will continue until I leave.

What are you packing? What do you consider your most indispensable item(s)?
I'm packing super light. 2 pair of pants. 1 pair of shorts. 4 shirts. Running shoes. 1 first aid kit. My most indispensable items would be my ATM card, my camera, and my passport. My pack will only weigh 22 pounds at it heaviest. For more info, see the what I packed page

How do you think your Around-the-World trip will change your life? How do you think it will affect and change you as a person? I hope this will satisfy my wanderlust and help me transition into the adult stage of life, somewhat, maybe. I'm not expecting to "find myself" (I didnt know I was lost) or to have a profound understanding of the human race or the universe when I return. I hope to pick up where I left off with my family, friends and work. My life is already pretty good, this is just a bonus blessing that I don't necessarily deserve but will take advantage of this opportunity for everything that its worth.

How long will you be on each continent?

South America- 45 days
Asia-21 days
Africa- 17 days
Australia / New Zealand-16 days
Middle East-10 days
Europe-8 days

Why go alone? I'm a real jerk to travel with: ) I like to travel alone, I find I'm more likely to meet the locals. I also have the freedom to go and do exactly what I want when I want. If jet lag is kicking my butt, I can skip the museum and sleep in. Or if I am on a high because I'm so excited to be in a new place I can leave the hotel at 4 AM to catch the sunrise at the top of a mountain. It just works for me. My digital camera will help me feel like I'm able to share it with everyone I know. It will be like you're traveling in my pocket with me. You'll see all of it, you just won't have the gastrointestinal discomfort that I will.

Do you think youll meet the future Mrs. McGrail along the way? I'm not banking on it. Sorry Mom. Something tells me that by week 2 of not shaving or showering and sleeping in dirt with a bad case of the runs will not help me be voted as "Cambodia's most eligible bachelor". That is just a wild hunch on my part.

Will you be voting via Absentee Ballott? Yes, I plan on having my ballot sent to Australia so I can fill it out on my scuba cruise.  And of course  I'll be Voting for Kerry.  It will be interesting to see if the news of the winner reaches the Great Wall of China the next day.
What are you going to do if you get mugged? First, I will probably break down and cry like a baby and scream out "I want my mommy" along with "I  want to go home," with drool spilling from my bottom lip. But after about a day or two of that, I will quiet down to a whimper and eventually "find my way" to an American Express Office to get a cash advance off my card.  And by "find my way" I mean selling my plasma and/or Kidney to the highest  bidder.