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Planning a round the world trip: How did you decide to travel?

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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.

  • http://nodebtworldtravel.com brian @ nodebtworldtravel.com

    I have done/am doing the round the world adventure right now and can agree that you will not regret it. It is one of those things that if you had it in your mind, you must see it through. Don't let anyone who has not done or has no inclination of doing it discourage you. Others have done it and loved it, and so can you.

    About Americans: I think we would love to travel more, but the average American doesn't get more than 2 weeks vacation, whereas the Europeans and Aussies get 5-8 weeks. They have a lot more time to play and see, where we tend to horde our vacation time. My take on it.

  • admin

    Brian good to hear and I completely agree. I’ve read some interesting studies on companies operating in the US and Europe and how the European companies actually outperform the US ones quite often even though their employees take 3x the vacation… Hope you’re trip is going well. Where are you?

  • Laura

    Congratulations on making the decision! I, too, am in the process of planning a round-the-world journey. My decision to go at this particular time is somewhat ironic. I have been living in the Middle East as a government contractor for close to two years now and originally came over to pay off bills and save as much as I possibly could. However, it seems the more money I save, the less I want to be associated with materialistic things. I don't want a super fancy car or an extravagant home. I want memories with the people I love. I want to experience the world and soak up all the adverse culture that I can handle. So bring it on! World, here I come! Good luck to the two of you! I'll be rooting for you!

  • mdea

    Don't bring more than you want to carry, nor anything more expensive than you're willing to have stolen.
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  • rentacarbucuresti

    Congratulations on making the decision! Very useful information especially for travelers..Thanks!

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  • alexandrabucuresti

    I think we would love to travel more,this is a great idea and an incredible way to encourage people to travel
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  • Emily

    Your experiences in New Zealand seem to perfectly mirror our honeymoon in Ghana. While I had researched everything I wanted to do for months, we stepped off the airplane without a single reservation or a concrete destination in mind. I'll always remember the look on my husbands face when standing at the bus depot I said, “So, where should we go first?” Like yours, our experience ignited the idea of possibility. We are now planning our own trip around the world, and are very grateful for the inspiration you provide us as we realize our dreams are more realistic than perhaps we thought.

  • Emily

    Your experiences in New Zealand seem to perfectly mirror our honeymoon in Ghana. While I had researched everything I wanted to do for months, we stepped off the airplane without a single reservation or a concrete destination in mind. I'll always remember the look on my husbands face when standing at the bus depot I said, “So, where should we go first?” Like yours, our experience ignited the idea of possibility. We are now planning our own trip around the world, and are very grateful for the inspiration you provide us as we realize our dreams are more realistic than perhaps we thought.