Russia & The World Cup: A Pre-depature Note

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Each trip I take has a different excitement leading up to it. Some trips, I’m excited for the people I’m going with, others for the places I’m going, and some for a particular activity I have planned.   As I think about this trip to Portugal, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Moscow, and London I have to admit it’s a true combination of all three.

If I’m being honest, at first, I was mostly excited about the people.  When I touch down in Lisbon I’ll be meeting up with 11 of my good friends (most of who don’t know each other) from across the world (USA, Australia, Greece, England, Egypt, Iraq will all be represented).  Each of them trusts me enough that when I messaged them to meet in Lisbon and share an Airbnb with a bunch of “my friends” none of them hesitated. Last year’s Asia trip was the same way. After our weekend in Lisbon, eight of us will travel on to Russia and then England.  By the end of this trip, people who had never met will be lifelong friends, which is pretty neat.

While I enjoy traveling and exploring new places I love connecting people and (humble brag) it’s something I’m good at.  I know really quickly if I have a connection with someone and as soon as I do I can’t help but bring them into my life and connect them with everyone I know.  Two of the people coming on this trip I barely knew (had met in person once) before I invited them to come with. If you’re wondering, we haven’t even left yet and they’ve already great additions.  

What can I say, when I know, I know.  

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Lisbon already has my heart

Few things beat introducing two of my friends a few hours later they are inseparable.  It’s a double validation of sorts. It’s them both saying “hey you’ve got good taste.” I love the number of group chats I’m in with people who met through me and now spend most of the group chat teaming up to make fun of me.  My need to bring people together is the main reason why I’ll never be able to stop saying “oh man, you should come with” whenever I travel even when it makes the trip planning and logistics more difficult. It’s why if I had one magic wish it wouldn’t be for gold or immortality; it’d be for all the people I love to live in one place.  For the last few months, it was the thought of bringing everyone together that really got me excited.

While I’m still excited for the people, I’m fascinated by the locations (minus London).  I’ve wanted to go to Portugal for years. I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s all the things I’ve read and heard about it.  It reminds me of when I became obsessed with Prague and knew my life wouldn’t be complete until I went there. Now, in this case, I have no intentions of moving there for half a year like I did with Prague, but Portugal has been a place that’s been on my mind to visit for far too long.  When I got the opportunity for a, granted short, trip to Lisbon I took it. I actually had to spin the situation and manipulate the group a bit to make this dream a reality.

I’ve had countless people scoff and say “why would you ever want to go to Russia?”  I don’t know Carol, because it’s fucking huge? It’s a world power? It’s full of history?  It’s completely different than where I’m from and that is usually good for perspective. Since when did learning about people and places different from your own become a bad thing?  We as a society have become so fearful of what’s different that we’ve stopped looking at how differences can help us change and grow.

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Tough to say no to Russia

I’ve always said I’ll go anywhere so when the opportunity to go to Russia fell into my lap I had to pick it up and run with it.  I knew next to nothing about Russia before deciding to come and honestly, I still don’t. But I’m excited to learn, to eat caviar in St. Petersburg, jump in the Dead Sea near Sochi, and drink a vodka shot (or two) in Moscow.   Eight months ago I had no intention of going to Russia ever and now I’m on my way. In my experience, those types of trips are the most memorable.

I’m not going to even pretend to be a big soccer fan.  Sure I played when I was a kid, but I’ve always preferred football and basketball.  In college, when all my friends were obsessed with playing FIFA it just never really captured my attention. So when my buddy Seif asked me if I wanted to go to the World Cup I almost said no based off the fact that the US didn’t qualify and how little soccer I’ve watched/played in my life.

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The World Cup won’t be so bad…

Then the World Cup started and I noticed something. The more games I watched and articles I read I began to realize that the World Cup isn’t just about soccer.  It’s about the atmosphere and national pride. It’s about coming together to experience something that only happens every four years with people from all over the world.   

Over the past two weeks, I’ve become more and more interested in soccer.  I’ve actually watched more matches in the last two weeks than the 27 years beforehand.  I know the different groups, who’s favored to win, and the scores of each match. My excitement to actually go to three matches in different Russia cities has grown so much in such a short time.  Each match I watch I see the crowd going insane, chanting, signing, and just think “that’s going to be me soon” which is a little hard to comprehend right now. As of today, I don’t really care who wins the World Cup (which will probably change once I get there), but I’m still excited to go because it’s an experience about so much more than soccer.

I’m curious 5 years from now when I look back on this trip if I remember the people, the places, or the World Cup experience more or if they will all be too intertwined to separate.  Over the next 17 days, I’m going to do my best to document different parts of my trip through photos, videos, and blogs without sacrificing truly experiencing what’s going on around me.  Hopefully, when I look back on those they’ll remind me about the times I had that were too unexpected and ridiculous to share with the world.

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

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What to Pack: World Cup Edition

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It’s finally time.  Time to pack for my first international trip of the year.  The one I’ve been quietly counting down the days till for months.  Okay, maybe not so quietly, but it’s finally time for Portugal, Russia, London, and the World Cup.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited for Burning Man and Greece with SandiClause, but this is the main event of the year. With the World Cup only happening once every four years and the entire world watching it’s going to be an experience even I may not be ready for.  Throw in the random hodgepodge of people I’ve managed to assemble for this trip and quite honestly, anything could happen.

The main focus of the trip may be the World Cup, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still have to pack for a 2+ week trip, 3 countries, quite different situations and am choosing to only bring one bag.  But any traveler will tell you this is what we live for.

With one bag, choices had to be made.  Leaving my “Embrace Your Weird” shirt in KC.  No room for my hammock and I may regret choosing to bring my drone instead of a jacket (Russian and English weather are fickle at best) but live and learn (my thinking on drone over jacket is once I’ve bought my Russian Adidas tracksuit I’ll have a jacket for those Russian White Nights.

Below you’ll find a list of everything I am bringing with me on my 17 day World Cup journey. Unlike my trip to Costa Rica I’m only bringing my Cotopaxi 35L Alpha with one rule as law: if it doesn’t fit it’s not coming.

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Essentials

  • Passport
  • Fan ID
  • World Cup Tickets x 3
  • Wallet
      • Credit Card x2
      • Schwab Debit Card
  • Global Entry and Priority Pass Cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Sleep Mask
  • Notebook
  • Personal copy of Oh the Places You’ll Go
  • Nebraska Flag
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush & toothpaste
    • Contact solution and container
    • Razor and trimmer
    • Comb

Clothes

  • Cotopaxi Windbreaker
  • Borrowed Soccer Jersey (thanks Sims or Seif)
  • 7 T-shirts
  • Tank Top
  • Long Sleeve Tee
  • 6 pair of boxers
  • A pair compression shorts
  • Surfing Rash Guard Longsleeve Shirt
  • Gym shorts
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • Boardshorts
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • Sandals
  • Pair of vans
  • Running shoes
  • Serengetee 5 Panel Globetrotter

Tech

  • DJI Spark Drone
  • Drone controller
  • GoPro Hero 5 and 3-way stick
  • GoPro Accessories
      • 3 extra batteries and charger
      • Clamp mount
      • Surfboard Mount
      • Additional holders
  • Macbook Pro & Charger
  • Hard Drive
  • Battery Pack
  • Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones
  • Travel Power Strip
  • Converter x 2
  • International (unlocked) cell phone
  • Phone charger

 

That’s the complete list of everything I’m bringing with me and honestly, I’m surprised everything fit.  I’m not sure if that’s because of my amazing packing talents or the fact that for a 35L backpack the Alpha has tons of space. 

Either way, fingers crossed for weather that is more favorable for droning than jackets.

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold

 

Quote for 6-18-18

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

Anthony Bourdain

Quote for 6-15-18

“It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there — with your eyes open — and lived to see it.”

Anthony Bourdain