Tag Archives: Travel Inspiration

Saving the Best for Last – Africa, My 7th Continent

I saved the best for last.  I’ve been quite blessed to see and experience many different places in a relatively short time.  Except for a 2 week trip to Europe in high school and two cruises, my international travel has occurred over the past seven years.  Every place I’ve been and every trip I’ve taken has something unique and special about it that I’ll always remember.  For now, though, Africa tops them all.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park

The variety and sheer quantity of wildlife that we were able to see was beyond my expectations.  I knew I’d see lions, elephants, giraffes, and hopefully cheetahs and rhinos, but I didn’t expect to see mongooses, tortoises, bats, or anywhere close to the variety of birds we saw.  I didn’t expect to see men herding camels on our first day of the trip.  Granted, that’s not exactly wildlife, but it was a larger group of camels than I’ve seen anywhere here in Qatar.  While I have yet to see an Oryx in Qatar even though it’s the country’s national animal (the Arabian Oryx to be exact), we saw one (an East African Oryx) on the second day of our game drives.  We even saw giraffes within minutes of pulling out of the Nairobi airport parking lot.  Africa truly is a special place.

Herd of elephants in Amboseli National Park

Herd of elephants in Amboseli National Park

Giraffes Eating in Amboseli National Park

Giraffes eating in Amboseli National Park

The last of the Great Migration

The last of the great migration in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Zebras drinking in Masai Mara

Zebras drinking in the Masai Mara National Reserve

It’s not just the animals that are unique here, though.  The people are quite special as well.  Although we didn’t interact with too many of the locals, we did have the chance to see how the traditional Maasai people live.  Their lifestyle is so different from the lifestyle of any other people I’ve visited.  From living in huts made of cow dung to men having multiple wives it’s so different from the culture and way of life I come from.  As globalization occurs and people in even the most remote parts of the world become more influenced from the Western world, it’s great to see at least some form of these ancient lifestyles still in practice today.  As Dawn and I hope to explore parts of Southeast Asia and more of Africa, I’m quite excited about being more exposed to people’s ways of life that are so different from our own.

Masai Men

Masai men welcoming us to their village

Set aside how beautiful and different Africa is, and the trip is still very special because my dad and I were able to hit that seventh continent together.  Visiting all seven continents was his goal long before it was mine (it was probably even a goal of his long before I was born), but it’s pretty cool that we were able to make the trip to our final two continents together.  There was never really a plan to visit Africa as our seventh continent, but I’m quite glad it turned out that way.  I’m sure we both figured that Antarctica would be our capstone to that goal, but I’m really glad we were able to complete that list in Africa with most of our family with us.

One more accomplishment knocked off the Bucket List, but many more to go.  

Dad and I stepping foot on continent number seven

Dad and I stepping foot on continent number 7

The family at Lake Nakuru National Park

The family at Lake Nakuru National Park

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The Bucket List

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”


For as long as I can remember I’ve been taught how important it is to write down your goals.  If you want to accomplish something, you must document those goals and make a plan to accomplish them.  Most of my life I’ve done an excellent job of avoiding that strategy within the realm of travel.  For the most part I just did my best to take advantage of whatever situations and opportunities presented themselves to me.  While this is certainly an easy (and many times fun) strategy, especially when it comes to travel, it hasn’t encouraged me to focus on accomplishing those travel goals that take a little more effort and planning to accomplish.  I certainly still plan to incorporate plenty of spontaneous travel in my life (which I’ve never had a problem with), but I’d also like to set some ultimate life travel goals.  I hope to focus on a healthy balance of spontaneous and planned experiences.  Plenty of these items on my bucket list have been floating around in my head for quite some time, while some are relatively new.  I’ve known I’ve needed to document the list in some form or fashion for quite some time, but I’m quite an excellent procrastinator.

Recently, I was listening to the Extra Pack of Peanuts (EPOP) podcast, and Trav from EPOP was interviewing Sean Ogle of Location 180.  Sean has done a lot of incredible things in his life, many of which are documented on his Bucket List.  Listening to that podcast and the items he had crossed off of his list was the extra little push I needed to finally publish my very own Bucket List.  I already had much of my bucket list typed up in an excel spreadsheet and had planned on posting it on the blog at some point, so I’ve finally published it.  

Now, granted, many of the things on my list aren’t that important in the grand scheme of life, but all the same, they are things I would like to see, experience, or accomplish in my lifetime.  I fully expect this list to be a living document – continuing to grow as I grow, continuing to inspire me with new goals as I accomplish others.  They are numbered in no particular order, and I will continue to add to the list as more ideas come to me.  Right now they are all at least loosely related to travel, but I’m certainly not limiting myself to only travel related goals.  That’s just where my mind is right now.  Take a look at the link below (or up on the banner at the top of the page), and let me know what’s on your bucket list, or what I may need to add to mine.

Matt’s Bucket List

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Diving the Great Barrier Reef

Stepping Foot on the Antarctic Peninsula

Stepping Foot on the Antarctic Peninsula

Hang gliding over Rio

Hang Gliding over Rio de Janeiro

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A Travel Blog Years in the Making

Like all grand plans I have, this blog has finally come to fruition after living inside of my head for quite some time.  Whether it’s starting a blog or buying a big screen TV, the ideas in my head must be analyzed, scrutinized, and contemplated upon for long periods of time before I’m able to make the commitment to actually pursue that effort.  It takes me way longer to let it toss and turn in my head than it should to actually just complete the task, but that’s not how I do things.

About the only thing I rarely hesitate on is travel.  Fly to Seattle and back in a day?  Sure, why not.  Travel for over 3 days by boat and plane just to visit a mostly deserted continent?  Sounds like a good time.  Move halfway across the world?  Let’s do this.  And that’s where I am today.  Who knows what will come next.

The Doha Skyline - My New City

The Doha Skyline – My New City

When the idea of starting a travel blog starting bouncing around in my head a couple of years ago, the force behind it was much different.  Years before the idea of starting a travel blog idea came about, I stumbled on an article on BudgetTravel.com about a guy who had quit his job to travel the world for a year.  He worked as a TV producer for HBO, and had been sent on an overseas assignment in Asia.  He met a couple of guys who had taken a year off from working to travel.  At first, the idea seemed crazy to him, but a few months after returning to the States he got the urge to do the same thing.  In order to justify the trip to himself, he decided he’d take along a video camera and make a documentary about the experience – both his personal experience as well as a number of round the world (RTW) travelers’ experiences he met along the way.  When I got the chance to watch A Map for Saturday I was exposed to a whole different type of travel.

Traveling around the world with just a backpack for a year or so was an incredible idea, and really seemed to fit me.  Of course, even with great ideas there are downsides or at the very least, opportunity costs.  First of all, it would be an extremely expensive trip no matter how often I couchsurfed or how cheaply I ate.  To be honest, though, this wasn’t a major concern of mine.  Sure, I’d have to save quite a bit, and then drain the savings I had already accumulated, but there will always be money to be made somewhere, somehow.  Second, there was the job factor.  When I first starting contemplating a RTW trip, I was working in Florida and really enjoying my job.   My co-workers were a great group of people, and I enjoyed the work.  Of course, the job couldn’t beat hiking Machu Picchu, visiting Petra, or diving the Great Barrier Reef, but it certainly paid better.  I did feel confident that if I were to quit my job I would either be able to rejoin my old company or find something similar when I came back.  However, I did know that a year away would put me at a disadvantage in my career path.  Sure, there’d be some skills I’d gain on the road, but I’d definitely be a few steps behind when jumping back into the corporate world.  Thirdly, I was also in the process of buying a house.  At the time I figured I’d be in Florida for the long haul, and the real estate market seemed to be bottoming out a bit (boy was I wrong).  It seemed like the right time to buy a house before prices started to rise again (did I mention I was wrong?).  None of these things in themselves convinced me not to make the plunge, but put them together, and they at least got me to delay the decision.  

While the idea of world travel continued to bounce around in my head, as tends to happen, life went on.  I soon met a girl, and the idea of world travel got put on the back burner for a little while.  This girl happened to live in Kansas City, and I was living in Orlando at the time.  As we dated I soon found out that she loved travel as much as I did.  We began hopping on planes every month or so to visit each other.  I love to fly, and the idea of heading to the airport to go see her made me love flying even more.    Eventually it was time for one of us to move, and for many reasons it was an easy decision which one of us it was going to be.  Soon, I was on my way to Kansas City.

I once asked her, if she had the money to do so, would she quit her job and travel the world for a year.  When she replied, “Absolutely”, I knew she was the girl for me.  We got married last spring, and late last year we had decided we were going to make this RTW trip happen.  We were going to save our money for the next year, and take a six month long trip around the world starting in January of 2014.  It was quite a ways off, but it was about the right time to make sure we focused on saving for such a large trip and to start getting a rough idea of where we wanted to go.

At the beginning of this year, while continuing to procrastinate the planning of our RTW trip, I ran into a coworker I had graduated college with.  He had just moved his family back from Doha, Qatar after spending 2.5 years there.  I had seen pictures of the trips he had taken while working there, and I started asking him about both his travel and job experiences.  It turned out that they needed a replacement for his position in Doha, and suggested that if I was interested to talk to my wife about it.  Long before she met me, she had wanted to live somewhere outside of the States for a year or so.  If she had her choice of locations, I don’t think that Doha would be at the top of her list, but this certainly was an opportunity to look into.  It would mean putting our RTW trip on an indefinite hold, but it would allow us to see many of the places we wanted to visit on our RTW trip anyway.  We wouldn’t get to experience the slow pace of travel I was looking for on the RTW trip, but not only would I not have to quit my job, I’d be able to gain some incredible experience that should help me in my career later on.  With a travel stipend, our modest stash of miles and points, and the fact that many of the places we want to visit are so much closer and cheaper to get to over here our travel could be done quite economically.  We decided we’d go for it if the decision makers that be decided I was the right guy for the job.  The process of knowing if we were going to get to move or not stretched out over a month or so and was a bit up and down.  Eventually, though, we had our plane tickets and started the packing and moving planning process.

I’ve been here exactly a month now, and I really enjoy it.  It’s certainly different, but I haven’t experienced the huge culture shock that everyone seems to suggest I should be experiencing.  I don’t know if that’s because the culture shock they experienced doesn’t really affect me, I just haven’t noticed it, or I’ve just gotten lucky so far.    But again, I’m just a month in.  We’ll see how things are going in six months or so.

I’ve got plans and goals for this blog, but I’ll leave those for another post.  I enjoy hearing people’s stories on how they got to where they are in life, and so before I shared those plans and goals, I wanted to give you a little of my travel back story.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and there will be more travel related posts coming soon.

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