Have you ever thought about traveling the world? Maybe you’re a dreamer: you visualize what it would be like to quit your job, you browse the internet for faraway places you’d like to visit someday, maybe you even occasionally price plane tickets. Or perhaps you’re actually planning your own trip and curious to see how others actually make long-term travel a reality.
Where Is Your Toothbrush? started years ago as a dream and now we, Peter Korchnak and Lindsay Sauve, are off on the adventure of our lifetimes—a yearlong trip around the planet.
When we told people about our idea, they would say “You must be rich”, or “You’re lucky”, or “I wish I could do that.” You don’t have to be rich to travel the world—we’re far from it, at least in developed country terms. You don’t need to be lucky—you need to shift your mindset, make a decision, draw up and stick to a plan, and learn from those who came before you to avoid making the same mistakes. You can do it.
Travel the World, Make Yourself at Home
Where Is Your Toothbrush? truly began when we re-imagined the idea of home. Once you reach adulthood, home isn’t just where you were born or where you pay your mortgage or where you store your possessions. Home can be anywhere you decide, anywhere you make it. Home is where your toothbrush is.
For twelve months beginning on June 17, 2013, home will be wherever we are. Home will be where we set our backpacks down and where we brush our teeth before bed. For an entire year, home will be where our toothbrushes are.
…With a Little Help from Your Friends
The exciting part: you get to take the journey with us! As we attempt to figure out how this long-term travel thing works, we’ll share our experiences and discoveries as well as tips for you to leave your current home, plan your own trip, and share your discoveries with the world as you circumnavigate it. Where Is Your Toothbrush? discusses the practicalities of dreaming up a world trip, saving money, planning, leaving home, traveling with a budget, and (maybe) returning home.
So, Where Is Your Toothbrush?
Where Is Your Toothbrush? has a few things to say on the subject of toothbrushes. A toothbrush is the most massively personal thing a world traveler—or, in fact anyone with teeth and an oral hygiene habit—can have.
A toothbrush has great practical value. You can brush your teeth and gums with it as you flitter across the jungles of the Amazon. You can use it to spot-clean your jeans to look your best in the bars of Tallinn. You can scrub with it the grime nestled between the tiles of your Lima hotel bathroom. You can use it to apply hair dye in order to fit in with the punks of Burma. You can apply spilled mascara with it to bat your eyelashes at the customs officials in Bari. You can use it instead of a knife or a stick to fight aggressive hamsters in a Moscow petting zoo. You can wave your brightly-colored toothbrush to flag down a cab in New York or use it as a pointer when you show off the photos from your trip to Patagonia.
But yes, in conjunction with toothpaste the toothbrush is mostly for keeping a clean, fresh feeling in your mouth.
More importantly, the toothbrush has immense psychological value. It is one of the few items a minimalist world traveler carries with him everywhere. If you find a world traveler’s toothbrush someplace, you can be fairly certain he is close by and will return to it soon. Wherever such vagabond keeps his toothbrush is his home.
What’s more, the traveler and only he uses his toothbrush, so it defines him in an intimate way. Not only can you tell a lot about its owner from the looks of his toothbrush, the oral hygiene implement is like an anchor that keeps the traveler rooted in the world and in his humanity. As long as he brushes his teets, the round-the-world traveler is himself.
A toothbrush also enhances the traveler’s experience in the world. If a reasonably educated person discovers that the world traveler has his toothbrush with him, he will assume he cares about his dental health enough to present no risk of oral stench upon close encounter; a toothbrush makes conversation with natives and fellow travelers possible.
And, what the new acquaintance will think is that any man that can quit his life in a comfortable developed country like the United States, pick up and leave to leap from city to city, country to country, continent to continent against the pitfalls and traps of long-term travel and still know where his toothbrush is, is clearly a person to be reckoned with.
Like the interstellar hitchhikers before them, travelers the world over will someday take to saying, “Hey, you ken that neato Peter Korchnak? There’s a dood who really knows where his toothbrush is.”
Featured photo by Jonas Bergsten / Wikimedia Commons.