Saturday, January 25, 2014

South-East Asia, here we come!

It has been quite a while since we have done a major backpacking trip. In fact, we have not taken an extended trip since moving back to Canada in 2003 so we are long overdue. This summer the four of us will be taking a glorious ten weeks off and exploring the countries of South East Asia. We land in Singapore mid-June then will be flying out of Bangkok at the end of August, just in time for school. What we do in between these dates is up for grabs!

We are hoping to visit 6 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. It is going to be hot and sticky since we are visiting during the monsoon season, but at the moment, with the -20 temperatures and extremely dry winter air in Canada, the idea of extreme heat moisture seems divine. Let’s say if I feel the same way with a fifty pound backpack strapped to my back hiking through the jungle in the middle of a tropical downpour!

The kids are very, very excited and doing a lot of reading and research on the countries we will be visiting. They are determined to go on an elephant trek and would also like to see some monkeys in the wild, so I expect those two goals should be quite achievable. They both received backpacks for Christmas from their grandpa so have already starting thinking about what to pack and which few precious toys they should bring along for the journey.

One of the best chapters in The Found Vagabond is on traveling with children. Traveling with young kids seems to scare the crap out of most people, but we have been doing it since our kids were babies. If we hadn’t done that, and if our kids were not used to traveling, then I seriously doubt we would be considering a trip of this magnitude. But I know we will all do just fine and have some amazing adventures together.  The kids are currently 7 and 9 so at an excellent age for such a trip as they are old enough to take care of themselves and will probably be able to retain these memories into their adult years. I have said this so many times, but I am always surprised at how the vast majority of parents take most of their vacations away without their kids. It is such a privilege to be able to include children on your travels as the delight they experience usually serves to enhance your own. And kids are usually much more resilient and adaptable than us adults give them credit for.

I had an idea the other day (yes, it happens occasionally). I am currently in the midst of a marketing and publicity campaign for my book The Found Vagabond and I started wondering if I would take a few copies along on our trip to give to people we meet along the way. Then I imagined a neat experiment that would serve to promote my book, allow many people to read it for free, and test some of the concepts I present in the book, such as traveler bonds, coincidences and friendships made on the road. It will also serve as a marketing tool even after we return from our trip?

So what’s the idea? I am going to give 5 copies to fellow travelers for free and ask them to simply pass it onto another traveler to read once they are done with it. But these copies will have a special index inside where the recipient enters his/her name, where they received the book, where they gifted the book and, most importantly, a web link where they can enter this information, and it will then appear on our website. Imagine - a book on travel doing its own traveling around the world! I’m hoping that by the time the books are too ratty and beaten up to be used anymore, they will have covered many more countries than I have. Maybe in the end somebody will mail copies back to me, or perhaps somebody who knows me will get one, or maybe they will all be abandoned or lost somewhere. Who knows? But I have a feeling something exciting may come of it.

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