BootsnAll Traveler of the Week – Bob Ross

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our new traveler profiles, then this is the perfect time to do it.

Part of what makes indie travel great is all the meaningful connections one makes with both locals and other travelers.  So what we wanted to do was to give indie travelers a place to get together and share their adventures with other like-minded people.  These traveler profiles are short and sweet and offer a variety of information about each person’s round the world trip (or for those who have not yet gone – their dream round the world trip).

Each Tuesday, though, we are going to highlight one traveler from our profiles and offer up a little more information about them.  Our inaugural traveler is Bob Ross.

1.  What is your #1 tip for those struggling with making the decision to go?

There’s a saying, “you’ll regret the things you didn’t do in life more than the things you did” and that definitely applies to travel. When you get older, do you want to tell stories about the round the world trip you almost did or tell actual stories of your adventures and the places you visited? For me, I didn’t want to wait until I was old and retired to travel – how would I get the 40 foot RV across the ocean? ;-) If you have the time and finances, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to travel.

2.  What is your #1 tip for those planning their round the world trip right now?

Take time to plan, especially if you’re getting a rtw airfare ticket. The first step would be to decide where you want to go (I browsed a lot of picture sites looking for scenic spots). Once you know that, figure out what destinations you have to fly between and which can be done overland. This will allow you to maximize your flights. The one downside of rtw airfares is being (almost) locked into a schedule; it leaves less room for spontaneity or staying extra long at a spot you like. Though, at least at the time I did my rtw trip, change fees weren’t that bad. All that said, don’t be so strict with planning that you don’t allow yourself time for unexpected surprises (good and bad).

3.  If you could go back in time and do your trip over again, what’s the one thing you would do differently?

If I could do one thing differently, it would be to not get punched in the eye by a guy from my Africa tour group. Ha! But I think you’re looking for something more generally related to travel… I would have taken more videos of the friends I made along the way so that I could remember them with more than just a picture.

4.  Will you ever go on another round the world trip?  If yes, why and when?  If no, why not?

I sure hope I’ll go on another round the world trip! Mostly due to financial reasons it won’t be very soon (mortgage doesn’t leave much left over for savings). For now, I have to be content with little one or two week getaways. Eventually, I know I’ll need more than that as the travel bug does have a hold on me (there are so many places still to see!!).

5.  Share your favorite picture from your round the world trip.

I’ve been asked all the usual “what’s your favorite” things about traveling, but never my one favorite picture. Hmmm, normally it would probably be a landscape or artisticy style shot, but I think for this it should have people and convey a sense of fun and adventure. I’ve attached one of me and a friend jumping off a junk boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam. That seems to include friends and adventure. Also attaching a pic after getting dropped off from hitchhiking in Bulgaria (see below).

Editor’s note:  The plan for these “interviews” was to only ask 5 questions, but Bob wanted to include more information about himself and his trip, so he included a few bonus questions and answers that he thought our readers might like – so enjoy!

Why do you like to travel?

Each day of travel holds so many more possibilities than a day at home. You wake up not knowing exactly where you’ll end up at the end of the day, what you’ll see, who you’ll meet. I could pretty much describe a regular work day for me even before I live it (i.e., it’s not very interesting or exciting). Plus I really enjoy seeing new places and experiencing other cultures (I currently have a strange yearning to go somewhere dirty and slightly dangerous).

Advice while traveling

Get out of your comfort zone – start conversations with people, attempt to speak the local language to meet more than just westerners, don’t spend your time sitting around the hostel.  Don’t take the time for granted. It will pass sooner than you think, and you’ll once again be back in the day to day monotony of working life.

Share a story from your travels.

While in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, a girl at the hostel asked if I’d like to go to Rila Monastery with her. Getting to Rila Monastery is a little difficult because there’s only one bus early each morning from Rila village (20km away), so the day we arrived we had to stay the night. The next morning we were trying to get ourselves out the door to catch the bus, but the flat owner kept wanting to show us things. Eventually, we had to put catching the bus before being polite, so we raced out the door with only a couple minutes left before the bus was due to leave. We were jogging (with backpacks on) and turned the corner just as the bus took off.  #*&@$!!!!
It was early so there were no taxis around. We decided to just start trekking up the road towards the monastery, hoping someone would feel sorry for us and give us a ride. Unfortunately, there were very few cars. We stuck our thumbs out hitchhiking for the few cars that passed, eventually getting picked up by a truck with tools in back. The driver was about to start his day of work and dropped us off about 5km later. Back to walking and hitchhiking with few cars going by. A fair amount of time passed before a another truck stopped. This one resembled a military transport with a couple hillbilly looking guys in back and an old woman. We were skeptical, but with an old woman in back, I figured it was fairly safe.
At this time it was about 8am and they were drinking 1L beers. They offered us each one, but we said “no” and shook our heads – only in Bulgaria shaking your head actually means “yes,” so we were handed beers (my friend also got a cigarette – she doesn’t smoke). So here we were, about 8 in the morning, drinking beers with some Bulgarian guys in the back of a truck on our way to Rila Monastery. They got us another 10km before turning off the road, and we got out and joked about the experience, taking our pictures drinking beer early in the morning. No more cars wanted to pick us up so we eventually got a taxi that was driving by to take us the rest of the way to Rila Monastery. The moral to the story being your day may start off sucky but you never know what may come along to make it one of the most memorable of your travels.

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