I’ve had several people ask questions lately about how we planned our travel around the world. I also remember being a “planner” (still am) and reading many travel blogs that gave some quick examples of tips and ways to go about it. With this post I want to start to map out a bit of how we went about deciding and also planning our trip including answering some of the common questions I often have heard and some that I had from the start.
How Did You Decide to Travel the World?
“How did you make the decision?” often is the first question people have asked. I’ve always loved traveling and had the wonderful opportunity growing up to travel quite often with my family (thanks Mom and Dad). I grew up in a small conservative midwest town and travel exposed me to different ways of life and the knowledge that not everyone in the world was a WASP!! I also quickly was drawn to the natural beauty that comes with seeing oceans, trees, mountains, deserts, volcanos and glaciers, not to mention cathedrals, skyscrapers, monuments, and other man-made wonders. Traveling was exciting to me because of the unknown. The sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and adventures of going somewhere different changed me – even before I was old enough to really appreciate it. To this day I always am excited to step onto a airplane and have some my fondest times of self-reflection.
Erinn and I were married in 2003 and we decided to take some time off and go to New Zealand for our honeymoon. I remember “planning” the trip in a somewhat risky way. I knew all of the spots and places I wanted to go but I didn’t have anything, and I mean ANYTHING, booked. We stepped off the plane in Auckland after a 12 hour flight and I told Erinn I needed to find a phone to see about a hotel and car rental. I’m not sure I know exactly what she was thinking but the look I perceived on her face was along the lines of “this is how you planned our HONEYMOON?!!” Well, it actually all worked out to our benefit and that trip was the seed in our RTW travel thoughts. We met countless others who were on extended trips from all walks of life and all ages but one interesting thing – none were Americans. For some reason Americans have a very different culture and outlook than most of the world when it comes to extended travel (maybe another blog post).
Jumping Out of the Airplane
All this to get back to the original question of how we decided. This trip and meeting many others who had already taken the risk of travel opened up our eyes to the possibility of it. I believe it was a little like the moment in Lord of the Rings when Sam says to Frodo “One more step and this will be the furthest I’ve been away from the Shire”. The reality of the possibility had just hit. I’ve said that the hardest part of our trip has already happened which was actually deciding to do it – we’ll see about this but I still stand by it for now!
I do believe the mental challenge of doing what most of our culture would consider foolish, impossible, or childish ie-leaving our jobs, families, communities, and spending money in a challenging economic time, has been the greatest roadblock. There were countless times where we would be on the brink of jumping off the cliff of “responsibility” to the yes of “let’s do it” only to quickly retreat and reconsider. I imagine it to be a bit like skydiving… the hardest part is probably jumping out of “pefectly good airplane”. What finally drove us to this decision was the many people we talked to who had done this already (it’s funny once you start looking there actually are people around you that probably have done it!). There was one comment shared by all we conversed with which was simply “You won’t ever regret it”. Another good friend at one point commented that if we were thinking economically and safety only this probably wasn’t a good decision, but if we thought of it as a life decision it could be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. I also heard a couple of times the analogy of being on our deathbed and what choice would we regret more going and coming back poor or not-going and living “safely” (which during this time in our country seems a somewhat inflated ideal).
There is something in risk that seems to bring life in my experience. Granted it needs to be thought out calculated risk but risk none the less. All in all, what we both hang on to more than anything is our faith that we will be taken care of and given opportunity regardless of our decision. Ultimately we decided to travel now while we were young enough to travel “lower class” before kids because we have the means and the opportunity to live out a dream.