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My first big trip began in 2003 when m'luv and I took several months to explore Europe and Asia. We quit our jobs, left the apartment and sold most of our possessions. I don't recommend this approach to everyone. It means you'll have to replace many things when (if?) you get back and re-orienting can be hard. At the same time it's incredibly liberating and I'm glad I did it this way. This page covers some things I learned about travel. You can find a lot of good info in books (I list a few) so I'm trying to stick with the stuff books don't tend to mention.

One big question that people keep asking is "weren't you frightened of terrorism and harassment because you're American?" No. I find it frustrating and sad that so many people are burdened with such unnecessary fears. I wasn't plastered in flags but tourists easily stand out no matter what they do. In most situations, I found that being foreign was an advantage. This was especially true in Southeast Asia where tourism is a major part of the economy. Generally, people are happy to welcome visitors and go out of their way to be kind, helpful and share information. Try this experiment: Put on a backpack and walk around Anytown, USA. See how people treat you. I'll bet most will ignore you and some will be exceptionally friendly or generous. I'm sure counter examples of hostility can be found and there will always be places with bad reputations. A good guide book will keep you far from these places and aggressive strangers are the rare exception not the rule. I can say nothing about places I didn't visit other than there are all types of people in the world and the ones you're likely to encounter can tell the difference between a person and a government. BTW It's cheaper than ever to go to Asia right now for a couple reasons. Economic recession is the big one followed by peoples' unreasonable fears of SARS, chicken flu, terrorism etc. Go out there. Have an adventure and see for yourself!