Mike visited:

» Thailand
» Myanmar (Burma)
» Laos
» Cambodia
» Vietnam
» India
» Nepal
» Egypt
» Jordan
» Uganda
» Tanzania
» Malawi
» Mozambique
» Swaziland
» South Africa

View a map of his route.

 press/awards earned a few nice mentions in the press, including's vote as best travel blog on the Web. Read about it on the Press/Awards page.

Transport is Arranged

I received an odd but exciting email message one month after posting this web site:

I am a flight attendant and I can appreciate your desire to travel the world. I'm willing to give you one of my passes to get you over to Asia. You would fly space available and would only pay 10% of the fare. If you are interested, here's my e-mail address. Either way I wish you luck.

Of course I was interested, I replied. I also had some questions: Who are you? How'd you find my site? What's your motivation?

The response:

Sorry, I didn't realize that I forgot to include my name. My name is Jared and I live outside of Washington DC. I have been considering going vagabonding in a couple years, and came across your web site while doing research towards that end.

My most pleasurable traveling experiences have come from the unsolicited kindness of strangers and being able to share in their experiences. I am grateful for the opportunity to help someone do what I love most, travel.

We exchanged a few further messages and agreed to talk closer to the date. It was a strange deal, that's for sure, but I had faith that it was genuine, and that it would work out.

Not everybody thought the same. "You're just going to trust some stranger?" people asked. "What if he mugs you and takes all your stuff?" my less trusting friends questioned. "Don't carry any bags onto the plane for him," others cautioned.

But I figured that traveling is all about trusting strangers. With this situation, I'd just have to start trusting sooner than I expected.

On October 2, 2002 I walked to the designated meeting place in O'Hare airport. And there was Jared, sporting a grey hat and red shirt, just like he said he would.

I knew he'd be there. Still, it was a relief to see him.

We breezed through check-in and then had a bite to eat in an employee cafeteria. We talked about travel and trusting strangers, working, lay-offs, and his experiences as a US Marine.

life is sweet in business class
"Would you like a window seat or an isle, Mr. Pugh?" the gate attendant asked me. I prefer the window. "Very good. We've got a window seat available in business class. And the seat next to you is empty."

A (nearly) free business class seat on a 13 hour flight is a Very Good Thing; I could have wept with gratitude.

Jared and I shook hands as I boarded the plane and then we went our separate ways. That was that - no strings, no ulterior motives, no weirdness. Just one traveler who wanted to give something back to the community and another traveler who, through a search engine and a quirk of fate, managed to get on the receiving end of that generosity.

Posted on October 05, 2002 06:57 PM


Comments (post your own below)

Mr. Pugh,

It is good to hear that you are finally in Bangkok and that life is as sweet as you describe! Also good to hear that Jared is as upstanding a guy as you thought! Congrats Jared on not confirming any of our concerns for our good friend MP, and I'm sure we all look forward to hearing about your travel endeavors as well. Good luck Mike, and I can't wait for the next update! - Dave

Posted by: Dave Giunta on October 7, 2002 09:27 AM

Jared rocks. Stephanie, shame on you for doubting!

Posted by: obrien on October 7, 2002 06:10 PM

I can only dream of business class at 10% cost! Glad you made it and I hope the rest of the trip is as unexpectedly exciting and generous as it started!

Jared - thanks for restoring some of the old addage of the "kindness of strangers".

Posted by: jscaife on October 8, 2002 08:08 AM

Of course Jared was nice and upstanding, have you ever met a mean Jared? Although sometimes it does not feel like it the proportion of the human species that is psychopathic and homicidal is very small, most people are inherently good.

Posted by: Kris Ann Allison on October 8, 2002 10:19 AM

Hi Mikey,
Just thought I'd let you know that Brant & I are following you along on all your adventures. Seems like you're off to a great start! Don't make it sound too good or Brant will be wanting to do the same thing in a few years! XOX, Aunt Ann.

Posted by: Ann & Brant Clark on October 9, 2002 10:57 PM

Jared's great! That was an awesome way to kick off Mike's trip. Good luck.

Posted by: Kevin on October 10, 2002 05:34 PM

You don't know me at all, but I am planning a world tour myself 10/03. I stumbled across this site looking for some silly joke. I am in the process of selling mostly everything I own as well as doing alot of research. I wish you nothing but the best and will look forward to updates on your site. I am concerned about currency exchange. Have you encountered any problems in that area yet? Please tell us about the language barriers as well!!

Posted by: Avelon on October 10, 2002 08:15 PM

Well now that Mike has proven that you can trust the occasional stranger I guess the media can get back to more important stories such as shark attacks and kidney theft. Good luck Mike

Posted by: Chris Jennings on October 14, 2002 09:53 AM

What an amazing way to start a trip! You gotta love Jared.

Posted by: Sean Embury on October 17, 2002 11:56 AM

mike! i am leaving for cambodia oct. 30 to check out ankgor wat and then off to the phillipines (the island of panay, iloilo city). i should be in ankgor wat on nov. 1 or 2 thru nov.5, i forgot. are you heading to cambodia? you are also welcome to the philippines with me (free place to stay at my realitives place), i'll be there for a month. don't worry, there is no kidnapping on the island.

Posted by: karl doreza on October 17, 2002 12:40 PM

Chicago is dreary cold and wet... while you ride elephants in search of monkeys.... where is the humanity.
Cant wait to hear your next adventure.. we will be thinking of you.

Danielle (and Michael)

Posted by: Danielle on October 18, 2002 09:04 AM

mike -

a friend of mine currently lives in bangkok. she was in chiang mai for over a year working for an NGO asssisting burmese refugees. she might be able to give you a glimpse of the non-tourist side of thailand. interested?


Posted by: victor on October 20, 2002 02:42 AM

Good luck on your adventure. How great does it feel to be living out our life's dream???

Can't wait to read more about the trip.

Posted by: Erin Leffers-McKee on October 22, 2002 07:56 PM

Jared, you're awesome

Posted by: Dave on March 16, 2003 11:29 AM

Mike, I am a friend of Dave and Janet Wente. Are you going to be spending time in or around Cape Town? If so I have an amazing day trip for you. Have you seen "Air Jaws?" I lucked out a couple of years ago and got hooked up with the most famous Great White guide in the business. Would be happy to share his contact info with you. Thanks for sharing your journeys. MB

Posted by: matt brothers on October 15, 2003 11:18 PM

Yes, there are some guardian angel travelers out there to keep us on the right track, I've noticed. On various trips to Italy, I've always had someone helping me out with little tips and helping hands, but this--a free trip? wow. you are a fortunate person!

Posted by: Jackie on May 25, 2004 11:26 AM

Comments closed.


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