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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Western student off to backpack through Asia

By Zoe Buchli

For some, spring break might mean a week in Mexico or a camping trip in the Cascades. Sophomore Ginger Gionet is taking the meaning of spring break to a new level and will be on leave spring quarter to backpack through Nepal, India and Indonesia.

Ginger at Lavertezzo, the highest point in the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. // Photo courtesy of Ginger Gionet

“I’ve been working 35-40 hours a week, every week, since fall quarter and buying zero groceries,” Ginger said. “I’m trying to keep all of my flights for my entire trip around $800 to $1,000.”

Ginger’s brother, Mason, is a junior at the University of Washington and will be joining her for the three months she is abroad.

“We’ve always wanted to go to Nepal together, so we just kind dreamed this trip up,” Mason said.

They were able to find $300 plane tickets to Nepal, where they will spend the first month backpacking through the trails that lead to the base camp of Mt. Everest, Mason said.

Mason said they’ll be hiking up to 10 miles a day at altitudes as high as 19,000 feet.

Ginger and Mason have self-funded this trip, and Ginger said she has allocated $2,000 for her three months in Asia.

Melissani Cave in Kefalonia, Greece. // Photo courtesy of Ginger Gionet

Mason said he has been able to save up from summer internships and working part time during the school year.

During their backpacking trip, Ginger and Mason will be staying in tea houses along the way, Ginger said.

“Tea houses are little Nepalese communities at these high altitude regions where you can stay the night, and they’ll make you breakfast and dinner,” Ginger said.

From Nepal, they will be flying to New Delhi for a few weeks where they will be exploring India during the hottest time of the year, with temperatures predicted to reach about 100 degrees, Ginger said.

“But at least it’s mango season,” she said.

After India, they will be flying to Bali, with a $130 airline ticket they found by looking at local airlines’ websites, Ginger said.

Mason said they will spend three to four weeks in Indonesia island-hopping and adventuring.

Ginger said they plan on staying only in hostels, eco-lodges and a few inexpensive Airbnbs.

The Gionet family in Egypt. // Photo courtesy of Ginger Gionet


“We’re both really into freeform travel and leaving the little details like where we’re staying that night to the moment,” Mason said.

Ginger has been to 28 countries, including Switzerland, Jordan and Norway. Traveling has been an elemental part of her lifestyle from a young age.

Gionet family on a 2,000 ft cliff in Norway. // Photo courtesy of Ginger Gionet

When she was eight years old, her parents moved her family to Tel Aviv, Israel for six months for her dad’s job. Following that, when Ginger was in seventh grade, her dad got a job offer to live in Southern Italy.

Ginger and her four brothers spent three years going to school in rural Italy and taking trips all over the world whenever possible.

Some of the Gionet family travels include visiting the pyramids in Egypt, riding elephants in Thailand and standing on top of a 2,000-foot cliff in Norway, Ginger said.

After returning to Seattle her junior year of high school, Ginger spent her summers abroad island-hopping in Greece and climbing mountains in Switzerland.

Sophomore Caroline May is Gionet’s cousin and has traveled several times with her, including to Greece and while Ginger lived in Italy.

“We went to three islands by ourselves, including Santorini, Folegandros and Milos,” May said. “We were so hyper and excited. I felt [Ginger] was able to make really well thought-out decisions that were from a foundation of extremely travel-savvy experience.”

Gionet family riding elephants in Thailand. // Photo courtesy of Ginger Gionet


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