Here is an extreme case of ‘catching the travel bug’!
Chris Sypolt was never much of a traveler. He liked it back home and wasn’t keen at all to venture abroad anywhere outside the USA eating strange foods and spending long hours on flights (which he hates),exploring the strange and unknown.
Then one day, at the age of 44, when a close friend died, Chris world trembled on its foundations and he decided to do something extreme by – on his first trip ever abroad – making an 80 day round the world trip!
Planning his first ever trip abroad
2012 was by far the worst year of Sypolt’s life. His best friend got diagnosed with cancer and after almost a year of struggle, eventually died.
To top it off Sypolt’s work situation deteriorated massively due to reorganisations. It meant 80 to 90 hour work weeks with huge amounts of stress and virtually no free time.
Not long after his friend’s death he decided to opt out of this extreme situation and he resigned from work.
His original plan was to head to Hawaii for two weeks, the come back to Seattle and put his life back together. But a liquid (read: alcoholic) lunch with a friend changed all that. His buddy suggested he take some real time of and do some real traveling to clear the mind and make a fresh start.
Sypolt was a bit hesitant at first but nonetheless started looking at some maps.
He was drawn in by the idea of New Zealand. It seemed manageable, provided he could deal with the long flight. Some intermediate stops would solve that so he started looking at other, in between, destinations. Australia, with its beautiful women and accents was added. Then Japan to break up that flight.
At that point in the planning he got in a real flow and planning his trip abroad took kind of a momentum of its own. Sypolt realised he didn’t need to be back in Seattle for anything given he had just quit his job. The last ‘push in the back’ he needed to make this wild plan come true was when he found a first class ticket from Tokyo to London on a plane that had a bar. “wow that makes flying actually really comfortable” Sypolt thought. So on a whim he booked the flight. Now he was kind of locked in and it made absolutely sense to keep on going from London further West back to the USA. So he added Iceland and the East Coast of the US as well.
Then he looked at the map again and he realised he had just planned a round the world trip. Not bad for a first journey abroad ever!
An Aussie accent fetish as a travel motivation
Everyone has his own reasons to travel abroad to certain destinations. But Sypolt’s main drive standsout quite interestingly: his fetish for Aussie accents!
I was born in 1969 and, when Grease came out in the late ’70s, Olivia Newton-John’s accent happened at just the right time for a prepubescent Sypolt. I wanted to hear it, all the time. Is this a stupid reason to travel outside the US? Probably, but it worked for me.
Not long before actually taking his flight from Hawaii onwards to New Zealand and Australia Sypolt got anxious and wanted to back out of his global odyssey. It was his first trip abroad after all and from Hawaii he could easily fly back home. So he was seriously contemplating changing his flights. However a note sent to him by a good friend gave him the motivation to make the trip happen:
“Dear Sypolt: If you need to change your flight to skip Australia and New Zealand, I understand. But God help me, if you don’t go to Oz, and satisfy your accent fetish, I am going to punch you in the dick when you get home.”
Understandably Sypolt went. And loved it!
The full Round the World itinerary
The itinerary, as originally booked, was: Seattle – Kaanapali – Waikoloa – Waikiki – Auckland – Brisbane – Cairns – Melbourne – Canberra – Sydney – Tokyo – Osaka – London – Paris – Normandy – Bastogne – Amsterdam – Reykjavik – Boston – NYC – Philadelphia – DC – Pittsburgh – Seattle.
When asked about the highlights of his trip Sypolt named a nicely diverse and detailed amount of experiences:
I loved loads of stuff: The similarities between Seattle and Auckland; standin in the same room that MacArthur once strode; hugging a koala; snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and pondering evolution; dealing with hangovers after drinking with Australians; watching baseball in Japan; the smell of trees in Kyoto; the horror I felt in Hiroshima; the sense of permanence you get from really big buildings in London; the decadence of ordering a third croissant in Paris; the first slice of east coast pizza in Boston. I could try to describe those feelings, but I’d fall short.
80 Days No regrets, The book
After he got back from his trip Sypolt wrapped up his experiences in a book that he named “80 Days No Regrets”. The undertitle says it all:
80 Days. 30,375 Air Miles. 4 Continents. 9 Countries. 0 Language Skills. 10 sleeping pills. 1 10-pack of airplane bottles of scotch labeled “for emergency use only”. 0 regrets.
Well a kickasstrip from someone who had never been abroad before.
So what are your excuses to not hit the road?!