We think conversation is one of the most fun parts of language learning. On Thursdays, we switch languages and ask each other questions to learn more about Tuesday’s topic. Today, Rober interviews Jessica about her travels with her backpack. You can read Jessica’s original post in our artifact series here.
Rober: You say in your post that you like to be mobile and be able to change your mind when you are traveling, do you usually plan your trips thoroughly, or do you like to improvise on the go?
Jessica: Usually a combination. I have learned over time that at least like to know where I’m sleeping the first night. We’ve ended up arriving, jet-lagged, and having to walk around for a couple of hours figuring that out. Jacob and I usually make a map on our phones of places we want to see and then when we have free time, we look to see what is nearby. That allows us to not have to plan out every day, but also to group things together and minimize travel time. I once read an article by someone who said she just tries to plan one thing a day. I have no idea where that was, but we sort of keep that in mind as a guideline and it’s ends up being about the right pace–we visit one museum or famous park and then have plenty of time for wandering around and trying new foods and drinking coffee in different places.
One of our favorite things to do is find a cafe and spend the afternoon reading. Some of my favorite travel memories are from low key days like this.
R: What did your journey around the world consist of?
J: It was kind of a strange trip because we bought plane tickets that were mistakenly priced. So we ended up with tickets from New York City to Milan and Prague to Tokyo for less than $200 a person, but since it was a mistake fair, we had to jump on it and buy them the night we saw them. When the trip came, we flew from San Francisco to New York and visited some friends there. We spent a couple of days in Milan, met up with a friend of a friend who took us around some small towns in Northern Italy and then spent a few days in Venice. From there, we took an overnight train to Prague, where we spent about 24 hours before flying to Japan. Japan was the most relaxed part of the trip because we had a whole week. So we spent some time in Tokyo and took a train to a remote town with hot springs to spend the night. From there, we completed our loop by flying across the Pacific Ocean back to San Francisco.
R: And your backpacking trip in Oregon?
J: Oregon is where I’ve done the majority of my backpacking. The trip I mentioned in my posts was one we did when our original plans didn’t work out. We hit snow on our first night, which we weren’t prepared for, so we ended up hiking along the middle fork of the Willamette River instead. We’ve done a couple of Oregon backpacking trips with our friends Molly and Carl. The first one was Eagle Creek and, was, in some ways my favorite backpacking format. The first day, we gained 6000 feet of elevation in a couple of hours, which was terrible, but the next day we hiked mostly level ground along the Pacific Crest trail and then descended, the third day along Eagle Creek, which is full of waterfalls. We’ve also done a pseudo backpacking trip with them where we drove to and camped near the trailhead and then did an all day day hike along Obsidian Trail, which we decided checked all of our boxes with mountain vistas, wildflower meadows, streams, lakes, and obsidian. It was an incredible hike.
R: Have you traveled as a backpacker any other times? Do you like this way of traveling?
J: I haven’t really traveled overseas as a backpacker since we usually have a hotel or Airbnb instead of camping. I think it would be interesting to do a backpacking trip in the Alps, or New Zealand or Japan. I guess the way I might be inclined to do that would be to pack backpacking gear in a checked bag and then travel from a destination in another country, rather than packing the backpacks with tents and everything at home. There are a lot of places I would like to backpack in the U.S. and I imagine we’ll do a lot more of that now that we’re in Montana and nature is more readily accessible. To answer the second question, I do like it, but we go infrequently enough that it is always a little bit of an ordeal to get organized, things like making sure the first aid kit is stocked, and we have enough food for every day.
R: What destinations have you and your backpack visited together this year?
J: This year my backpack and I have been adventuring in U.S.– to New York City early in the year, New Orleans in June, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Chicago in October, and San Francisco several times throughout. My backpack had a pretty big role in the New Orleans trip because we spent a week there and then a week in San Francisco without going home, so I was packing for very different climates. New Orleans is hot and humid by then and San Francisco can be pretty chilly in the summer, so I was glad for how much I could fit into my bag. It’s always nice though to be able to keep the backpack in carry on and then hop right off the plane and onto public transit.