Catching up with the Nomad

Richard Brewer-Hay

Three weeks ago I profiled Rebecca Campbell (aka “The Nomad”) before she set off on her 33-day trip around the world.

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In the first half of her trip around the world, Rebecca has:
– Traveled over 45,000 miles
– Visited 22 airports, taken 11 flights (90% of them long haul)… That’s a flight every 1.72 days
– Traveled in time through 26 time zones and back-tracked 3
– Had an average of 3 hours sleep a night over the past 20 days not including the week before where she averaged 2
– Been traveling / working for 476 hours straight with no breaks
– Used over 300 different modes of transport
– Been through Heathrow twice already (by the time she is done it will have been five times)

– Received an average of 200 messages and 300 emails each day
– Has literally not sat down to eat a meal or sleep without being on the move for twenty days

I had originally hoped to catch up with her as she came through San Francisco on 5/21 but the stars were not aligned. However, at the center of Rebecca’s trip, is a reliance on Skype gadgets and technology to keep her in touch with the rest of the world so it seemed only fitting that I connected with her via Skype on Friday during her two-hour stop over in New York.

So you’re half way through… how is your body holding up?

In a word? Exhausted. I’m feeling better at the half-way point than I expected but I’m always moving so I’m not sure I’m really conscious right now to be honest.

I know you got to see your family during your trip but aside from that, what has been the highlight so far?
There have been quite a few highlights but what stands out most is an amazing ghost town on the Yangtze River called Fengdu, said to be the only Ghost town in China. It’s where they say the spirits go when they die. It was a really cool, mystical place.

What has been the biggest surprise?
I think the biggest surprise, and probably the most alienating part of the trip, was on the 30-hour train ride through China to Hong Kong. I had no connection with the outside world and was the only Westerner and the only female in my car so no one spoke English. It was very strange not being able to interact with anyone for 30 hours.

How has the Skype experience been?
Phenomenal. Being able to talk for free from all over the globe has been phenomenal. My 3 Skypephone has been fantastic and I really hope I get to keep it when the trip is over.

What is the first thing you’ll do when you get home?

Have a bath. Then I’ll watch a big, Hollywood film with nice bottle of wine. Can’t wait!

What would do differently if you had the chance to start over?
I probably wouldn’t go to as many far-out places; spend more time in bigger cities. If I could go back to before the trip, I would definitely spend more time planning ahead and focus on places that have WiFi. I’ve been remote, without access, more than I had hoped.

What is the one thing you didn’t bring with you that you wish you had?

Oh, it’s such a girlie answer but I’d have to say a hair-straightener. I also wish there was a way to consolidate all of the cords and plugs that I’ve had to cart around with me. There must be something that could do that for me… and I’m not just talking about a universal adaptor for plugs in different regions. I have that already. No, I need something that would make it so I didn’t have to bring so many cords.

What is the one thing that you did bring that you could not do without?

Again, a girlie answer, but I’d have to say my long dress. I only have three changes of clothes with me for this trip, so having a long dress that works in the day when on the move, and in the evening for more formal things, has been key.

I interviewed Rebecca four days ago. Since that time she has been through Copenhagen, Denmark; Keil, Germany; Visby, Gotland, Sweden; and arrived in Tallinn, Estonia today. All rather sobering to me when I realize in that same time, my big trips included driving to and from work and taking my daughter bowling for the first time over the weekend.

Good times.