Editorial: I started a blog a year ago about the value of “riding the buses in places unlike home”, about the importance of global travel. The blog has been expanded to a website, this website. This time my daughter, Jessica Sunter, is joining me as co-founder of the site. Jessica became a world traveller at a young age. She’s not one who sees a country through its monuments but through its people. She rarely takes a photo.
Everyone who travels a lot knows that foreign travel doesn’t have to be onerous. That’s because there’s a beaten path that stretches all around the globe from one great destination to another. All you need to do is follow it. That’s what this website is about: helping visitors find and follow the path.
Some of us want to personalize our travel experience through volunteer work, education, and small-group tours and we’ll explore this. Does the travel infrastructure/industry support independent travellers? We’ll research that and report back.
I started my own journey around the world years ago when I postponed university to take a train across Canada to work as a waitress at Jasper Park Lodge (a great Canadian ‘rite of passage’) before hitchhiking up the Alaska Highway with a British cook. That was soon followed by the so-called ‘grand’ tour of Europe and then an 18 month journey that started in Australia and continued through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey.
The birth of children slowed me down a bit. Then one January morning, desperate to escape the cold, I found myself in Costa Rica with my young daughter. The next year it was Mexico for the whole family, albeit to a ‘cheap but cheerful’ resort. On impulse, we caught a local bus to visit the real Mexico. The bus broke down and we spent a couple of days in a quaint colonial town that was much more interesting than the resort. The following year we put on backpacks and spent three weeks travelling rather spontaneously through Guatemala. That’s why this website is called “riding the buses” for the Guatemalan bus symbolizes independent travel for me. And I’ve been travelling that way ever since.
Some say the heyday of independent travel was the 1970s when middle class kids travelled in Europe on $5 a day and meandered along the Hippie Trail in Asia for months on end. Sure, it was a great time but I think today we can surpass it. Today we can develop itineraries to reflect our schedules and not give up our day jobs. What’s more, we can make bookings through the Internet and stay in comfortable and affordable hotel rooms. We can keep in touch with those at home via e-mail and Skype, get money as we go along using a bank card, and take a suitcase on wheels instead of lugging a pack if that suits us.
We hope you’ll take this journey with us and that the site will reflect many experiences, many voices.