2011: China & Myanmar
In the summer of 2011, CeCe worked in the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve, which is located in the Sichuan Province of China. CeCe was an intern advisor, guiding a group of undergraduate students from the US, UK and China. She helped teach them to run a participatory rural appraisal of farmers living in the reserve and the feasibility of starting a native plant nursery that would supply panda habitat restoration.
In August 2011, CeCe & Mark returned to China to work with the International Crane Foundation at Caohai Nature Reserve in Weining, Guizhou.
2008-2009: Around the World
13 months and one big world.
Ok. So technically we didn’t go AROUND the world. We went almost to the international date line and turned back. And we only visited 4 continents. But if you look at our map, you’ll see we covered quite a bit of ground.
When we first started thinking about where to go, the list of countries we wanted to visit was very long. CeCe started writing her “Top 10 Countries to Visit” and Mark had to cut her off at 25. Luckily, we’ve realized that we won’t really be able to experience places if we’re concerned about hurrying to the next place or trying to get as many stamps in our passport as possible.
So instead we hoped to see fewer places in order to have a chance to meet new people and learn about the cultures we visit. We also made a goal to volunteer, perhaps post-earthquake rebuilding in the Sichuan Province of China or WWOOFing on a farm in New Zealand.
So how do you travel around the world? Here are some of the questions we’ve received about the how’s and why’s of our trip around the world:
- Q: Did you buy one of those Round-The-World airline tickets?
A: Nope. We thought about it, but we hoped to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible. We took trains and other forms of public transport as much as possible. For all flights, we purchased carbon offsets from Terrapass.
- Q: What did you bring?
A: As little as possible. We used to have a gear list on this site, but during our travels, we added and donated all sorts of stuff so the list became outdated. (For example, we went through three tents… long story). Feel free to ask for suggestions – CeCe likes to think of herself as a gear expert.
- Q: What made you want to take this trip?
A: Aside from loving to travel, we both identifies a gap in our international experience. Taking time off before graduate school to explore what we loved to do became an invaluable investment.
- Q: How did paying for it?
A: We started saving for the trip back in early 2007. We didn’t spend money on anything we didn’t need. That meant no more eating out (except on special occasions), buying clothes, grabbing an interesting magazine in the grocery check-out line, going to the movies, etc. You get the point. It shocked us to see how quickly our savings grew. There were times when it was hard, but by remembering the trip made it easier. CeCe’s trick was to compare the price of an item with the cost of staying in a hostel in Thailand. So when she had the choice to get a new pair of shoes or 6 nights in Thailand, the shoes lost.
- Q: How did you know how to plan a trip like this?
A: We just figured it out as we went along. CeCe did a semester with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) back in ’96, which taught her how to plan and lead expeditions. Mark has driven across the US several times. We’ve also done a little traveling together – a cross-country road trip, honeymoon in Belize and summers in Maine. And we’ve read A LOT of guide books.
- Q: Where did you get all the guidebooks?
A: There’s a fantastic place here in Baltimore called The Book Thing, which gives away books for free. Yes, free. And we’ve been able to collect dozens to surprisingly up-to-date guidebooks. We’ve also been able to supplement at the library.