We began talking about doing some long-term traveling about one year before our actual departure. While we didn’t need an entire year to plan, that was how things worked out for us. Here was our process:
1. What Kind of Travel:
We met once a week at a coffee shop, which we called “date night”, and began discussing the kind of travels we both imagined. Different ideas came up which included working in another country and just taking off. Ultimately we knew we wanted to experience as much of the world as possible, but not be gone for too long. To maximize our experience, we decided it was best for us to leave our jobs.
2. Which Countries:
Deciding which countries to visit was the most difficult part the process since we wanted to see everything ever published in the National Geographic. After calculating how much time we would need to see the countries in our initial combined list, we realized we would need at least 5 years!
3. Which Countries Realistically:
We further broke down our lists into three categories: must-see, would-like, and if-time. Just from the countries in our must-see lists, we estimated it would take two years. The idea of being away for two years sounded too long so we had to do some additional trimming. After a few more rounds of discussions, we came down with our final list of countries. It would take us one to one and a half years to complete, which we were comfortable with.
4. Estimating Costs:
From information we found online and asking other travelers, we estimated how much it would cost us. We mainly factored in cost of living in each country, inflation, flights, gear, insurance, and some padding for emergencies.
We were both already saving well before we decided to travel, putting money aside for rainy days so we were very fortunate to be able to take off for at least one year without having to work. Regardless, having extra money is always good. This extra money could be used for money to return home to, the unexpected, or for splurges. We started monitoring our spending. Anytime we wanted to buy something, we would remember the bigger goal at hand and surprisingly, we didn’t need the item after all.
6. Selling Our Stuff:
Boris knew right away he didn’t need any of the things he had accumulated and was willing to sell it all for $1 each. I, on the other hand, was not comfortable with this idea at all. How could he sell his cashmere sweater I got him as a gift for $1?
After looking at the cost of storage, I came to the conclusion that it was not worth it as most of my assets can be easily replaced for less. So I slowly began selling my stuff. Once I got the hang of it, it turned out I didn’t need 90% of my things. The rest of my belongings that I wanted to keep, I stored at my very generous family’s house. What I didn’t expect from this experience was how much burden was instantly lifted off my shoulders.
7. Informing Our Families:
When we informed our families of this long trip we were taking, there were many different reactions. Boris’ family was super supportive of him and his decision. Mine on the other hand, were not. Regardless, I was prepared to help them understand my decision and why I was doing it, but at the end of the day, my plan was not going to change. Before I left, my family did come around and was supportive. I am very thankful for this as it did help ease my mind along our journey.
8. Informing Our Jobs:
As much as I would rehearse how I was going to break the news to my boss, it never got easier. At the end, Boris left his job with an offer to return anytime. I, on the other hand, took a two-year leave of absence. Yes! I didn’t expect this but it is very comforting, especially to my family, that I have this option.
Find out what options you have through HR or your work’s intranet. If you have a good relationship with your boss, talk to him/her and be honest. Plan for the worst case, which is to quit. At the end, you just don’t know what options will be presented to you.
9: Booking Ticket(s):
There really is no better time to leave. After completing most of the items on this list, we felt good and that we could book our tickets to our first destination. We researched flights and what luck, there was a special on flights from the US to Thailand!
And you? If you are thinking of taking some time off to travel, take it from us, this feeling is not going to go away, even with time. Before dismissing your options, research what they are.
Here are the options we considered:
a. Working in a different country for a few months then travelling until the money runs out.
b. Working remotely while traveling.
c. Getting corporate sponsorship. This requires more work, but it is possible with a plan.
d. Joining or volunteering with an organization that will help with boarding and food costs.
e. Saving and taking off. You will be surprised to learn how little it costs to live in another country.