What is it?
I will be taking a one year vacation, living out of my truck, travelling around the country, visiting and learning from others, volunteering, having fun, etc...
What inspired it?
I got out of college in 1995 and went looking for a job. Through some connections, I came to interview at XcelleNet/Sterling Commerce. I really liked the company and my future boss, Phil. I told them I wanted 3 months before starting to travel the US and have some fun, but little did I know that isn't how the computer industry works. Phil said take it or leave it, 2 weeks. I took it, but deep down, I knew I wanted to do this trip. About one year before the trip, I decided I was going to make the trip a reality and started saving for it. Three years after working for XcelleNet/Sterling Commerce, here I am... and I'm still very good friends with Phil. He helped me build up the rig.
Why the heck would someone?
To see the things I've never seen before, such as the Grand Canyon. To learn from others how to live harmoniously within the fabric of creation and to learn how to teach others the same. This trip is also an experiment in technology as I'll be bringing a cellular modem and updating these web pages. I also plan on having FUN. This includes backpacking, mountain biking, or road biking whenever I get the opportunity.
How are you going to afford this?
My budget is outlined below...
Note that one night in a hotel (at say $30) takes a significant chunk out of my budget. This is why the rig in my truck has to be as comfortable as possible so all I need is a place to park for the night. I should note that I do have funds to handle major problems (IE truck breakdown). They are not shown in this budget.
Are you going to keep clean? YES! I'll be carrying a solar shower and bathing quite often actually. Truck stops have nice cheap showers too.
Following questions are from an e-mail interview with Michael Huber, freelancer at ORF ON KULTUR, the Website of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation. Michael wrote an article about the different ways people try to document their journeys and how the internet is used to do it. Here is the article translated from German. Below are the questions that he asked me...
Why did you want to publish your travel experiences on the internet?
To share photographs and notes with friends. Then I figured why not make a project out of it and throw information on the pages that others might find useful. And perhaps I could get others to engage in interesting discourse on various topics.
Other people show their photographs and notes only to their closest friends. What made you want to let everyone see or read it?
Very simple... I'm not shameful about the way I live my life and I have nothing to hide. The little stuff that I don't think the public needs to know (IE how my relationship is going with my journeying partner, Cathy), I send out in personal e-mail's to close friends. Actually, I don't feel obligated to hide this information either... however, if I were to publish it, I think I would steer many people away from the site and might offend others who find this unorthodox approach offensive. Our society has trained us to keep this such stuff private, and I guess I (as well as others) still feel that pressure as well.
When you set up your website, which sort of Users did you have in mind?
Friends... then hopefully expanding to people who may hold interests in travelling or the philosophy of travelling.
Do you have an idea who actually reads your entries and sees your pictures?
Some idea. I get reports to how often my site gets hit. I also monitor my guestbook when I can, but other than that... I get little feedback.
What were the reactions on your project?
All positive. However, my biggest fear is that my site is boring. Some close friends say my entries are a bit wordy, so I've been working on that. I've had no negative feedback from people outside my circle of friends/family. However, if I hit a boring site, I surf to a different site. I'm sure others do the same. Therefore, I have little negative or constructive feedback.
What are/were the main technical problems? (updates, getting connections....?)
Many problems... all revolve around getting online:
#1 Cellular modem - My cellular modem is too slow to do ANY updating online (4800 baud). And I'm even lucky to get a simple 4800 baud connection. It only works about 50% of the time, and I have to have a line of sight to the cell tower. And cellular digital packet data (direct internet via digital cellular) isn't available in most places. Basically, email is all I do on cellular.
#2 Getting a "land line". It seems that industry generally doesn't expect people in cars to be carrying laptops! However, I have found a variety of solutions Trying a local ISP, seeing if a local hotel has a conference room available, internet cafe's, and friends in the towns I visit. Some of the fancier truck stops even have data jack land lines for laptops on their pay phones. I haven't had to use airports, but most airports have pay phones with data jack land lines for laptops.
How much attention does a online travel diary actually get?
I think that depends on what search indexes it can be found in. Once I added myself to yahoo, my hit count went up. I get random hits from random people every now and then. A few stick around and keep up with the travels. I keep a counter on my page and get reports from my web service provider.
Is it much work to document a journey on-line? Is it worth it? Why/why not?
For me? Lots. Normal updates take at least 6 hours... that includes readying the digital photos, typing the text, laying out the page, and uploading it. My last update took over 10 hours, but covered a month of activity.
Worth it? You bet! First of all, the web is a great communication medium. I don't have to stop to get my film developed. Second of all, my pages are viewable to all friends immediately. I don't have to lug around a photo album. Finally, it is something that I can always look back upon. I've already gotten great satisfaction from reading my entries from a few months ago.
Is there also a commercial aspect of the project - like getting sponsors for the website who then partly finance the journey itself?
Not in my case. It is all self funded.
How do you judge the future of online travel-diaries? Will it replace slide shows or similar things?
I'm sure online travel diaries will take off as soon as the general population learns how to create and update web pages. Replace slide shows? Never. The personal interaction is much better than electronic interaction. Sometimes, I've sat down with my laptop and some friends and given them the "slide show" version of the website.
Is the internet a tool that changes the way people travel?
For some, yes. With tools like www.mapquest.com and maps.yahoo.com, and with destination information online, it has definitely changed the way I travel. If I decide to go skiing, conditions are right online along with 5 day weather forecast and directions. For travel journalism, I think it is too difficult for the general population to do... but technology is always improving. Somebody will come out with an easier way to do all of this stuff soon!
How can I keep up with you?
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My E-Mail address is: andrew(at)koransky.com
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