We’ve probably been asked 50 times how we made the decision to leave our regular lives behind and travel the world. It’s not as concise an answer as most people seem to expect, but nothing ever is. This is the long version. If you’d rather stick to the short version, go here.
Initially, our decision to leave New York City had nothing to do with long-term traveling. We had been talking about a change of pace for many years, specifically a move to Colorado, and we had been building our savings up since we got married in 2009. In the spring of 2010 we made the final, for real, solid decision that we were going to leave New York at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. Part of that decision included a mini-break that would allow us to stay in Vermont for the summer and fall before permanently moving to Colorado. At that point we began to save more seriously in anticipation of living for 3-4 months without jobs in Vermont, and then making sure we’d have enough to take us through a potential of 6 or more months of unemployment in Colorado since we weren’t sure how difficult it would be to find work there.
A little over a year ago a friend of mine from childhood moved to Santiago, Chile with her husband, and I had been hoping to eventually get down there for a visit. Around the same time, another friend took few months to travel around Chile and Argentina and began posting envy-inducing pictures on Facebook. Last fall, Justin and I started tossing around the idea of going down to S. America, both to see our friends in Chile, and to take some time to visit Patagonia and other places in Chile and Argentina that had piqued our interest. It had occurred to us that after our stay in Vermont would be the perfect time since it would be summer there, no jobs meant we could stay for as long as we wanted, and we had already amassed enough savings that we knew we could swing it without a problem.
A few months later we realized that winter in the USA was summer in a lot of places we had always wanted to visit but never had. Places like Australia. New Zealand. South Africa. We started considering going to New Zealand after the trip to South America.
In December, during my internet research about Patagonia, I found a blog written by a couple who had recently completed a yearlong trip around the world. We looked at our current savings, and started to try to figure out ways to save even more in the last 6 months we had before we knew we’d be leaving our jobs. We started checking out travel guides from the New York Public Library – as an aside, you can check out the most current guidebooks to, well, everywhere. It’s a great way to get some initial information about a place before you run out and spend a ton of money on guidebooks before you really settle on where you want to go. It’s also a great way to compare guidebooks and figure out which ones are more in line with your personal travel style. We took out books about Peru, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia. Our friends started noticing the stacks of travel books and began to ask questions.
In early January we started to talk to our friends about our idea to travel long-term. By the end of January we had decided, with some trepidation, that we were going to take a year and see as much as we could. Over the next few months we continued to make lists of places we wanted to go, things we needed to take care of before we would leave, and of course, we started saving more manically. By the end of April we had told our parents, and by the end of June nearly all of our friends knew of “The Plan”.
We are almost exactly 3 months out from our departure date, and there are days when I still can’t quite believe we’ve decided to do this. It seems as if we still have a million things to do, including purchasing the first plane ticket, but I have faith that we’ll somehow get it all done. In the meantime we are going to enjoy our time in Vermont since, after all, it’s the first leg of our extended travel.