I really cannot recall exactly when we decided to commit to this idea of quitting our jobs for full time travel. Its really always something I’ve dreamed of for as long as I can remember, but I can’t pinpoint a single thought or conversation where we said – “Ahah – we’re going to do this!” I believe the girlfriend (now wife) and I casually started discussing it roughly about five years and slowly grew more and more serious about following our dream.
I’ve always dreamt of exploring the world for as long as I can remember. I can recall sitting in Geography class as a child and after snickering at the names of places like Lake Titicaca, I would do route planning in my head, daydream about climbing the mountains and sailing the rivers I saw, and wonder what the cultures were like in these faraway places we were simply looking at on maps. The dream was always there and a decision had always been made that I’d one-day attempt to travel the world. I had just mistakenly thought I would need to be retired and/or independently wealthy to do so. It was probably about five years ago when I slowly started to realize otherwise.
I do remember that it was 2008 when I returned to school at night to pursue my MBA, I was required to read and review any business book related to entrepreneurship. So given the buzz it had been receiving and its fun title, I chose The 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. Part of this book gave examples of how some folks had cracked the code on earning passive income to then spend lots of time travelling the world and living well. At the time, I wasn’t convinced I could take my life on such a path but it planted a little seed in my head and certainly got me thinking differently. (Its now ironic to look back at this, realizing a course which was intended to help set me up for corporate life, has instead had some influence on me leaving the office to become a homeless travelling nomad.)
In late Spring of 2010 I cashed in all my vacation and personal time to take a three week trip to Cambodia and Thailand, which was my first time travelling in a developing country for more than a day. During our visit to Southeast Asia, I discovered a number of people from all different walks of life who were traveling long term around the world, a few of which particularly stood out. Most of these world travelers I met were from European countries but a wide variety of ages. Where I had known round the world travel to be ‘a thing’ for wealthy retirees and college-age kids who could somehow afford it, I instead found some young professionals who were simply taking a break from their regular jobs to enjoy this wonderful world. It was two separate parties who I had met just a few days after arriving in Cambodia that really had an impact on me, in which they’ll probably never know.
One girl, probably in her late-20s, from the Netherlands had been traveling by herself throughout Southeast Asia on a motorbike and was trying to travel all through Asia, the Middle East and back to Europe all overland. Hearing some of her travel tales not only inspired me, but it let me know that if this young chick can traverse this vast area by herself on a motorbike, than perhaps this world isn’t as dangerous as I once thought. I had also met a Swedish family which were taking their elementary school-aged children on a round the world trip for a year. I could only think “Wow, how cool it that!” It further got me thinking, “if that family can do it and if the Dutch girl can do it, why can’t I? What am I doing wrong in life? I want to travel around the world too.”
During that trip, we stayed in some very nice beautiful beach resorts, ate delicious Thai cuisine and seafood every day, drank well, had a personal chauffer many days, went on awesome excursions nearly every day (sea kayaking, snorkeling, ruin tours) and travelled pretty widely during our time there (planes, ocean ferries, buses). I had heard that your budget goes far in this region but I was surprised to experience first hand just how true that is. This trip really helped to open my eyes.
Also around this time, my fiancé (now wife) and I were considering moving from our home in St. Petersburg, Florida to the great white North of suburban Detroit, Michigan for a job opportunity. It was about a month or two after our SE Asia trip that we ventured up to the Motor City over Labor Day weekend to check out the area. We stayed in midrange motels (Days Inn, Courtyard), ate mostly at quick serve places, went on a few low-key excursions (a cider mill, a nature hike, a jazz festival), travelled by rental car, went to a concert, and checked out the nightlife. Upon returning, I tallied the expenses for our three-day trip to Detroit and discovered we had actually spent more during that quick weekend jaunt than we did on our entire trip to Thailand and Cambodia. Wow. This further got me thinking. But let me just say that again…
A modest three day trip to Detroit, Michigan had cost us more than three weeks in beautiful Southeast Asia.
At some point I began running the numbers. I started scouring the Internet for travel budgets and performed countless Google searches for different iterations of “How much does it cost to travel around the world?” I crunched my way through a series of spreadsheets, estimating expenses, examining our savings, and allocating for future savings. I quickly discovered, “Whoa, we can do this!” In fact, I figured out “We can probably do this …now!”
Instead of doing this “now,” we decided to not make any sudden decisions or moves. It was important to us to ensure that taking an extended time off of work to travel the world would be financially sustainable. So we took our time to plan out this great adventure. And take our time we did. We saved for a couple of years then made the move to the Detroit area, following through on an earlier commitment. Then despite our goal to save for travel, we got married, had a wedding, and spent a few weeks honeymooning throughout Europe. That was our last big splurge and last major trip. After that, it really was game on. For the next nearly three years after getting married, we continued to save and then we saved some more and yet saved some more again, just in case. Which brings us to today. Now we are ready. Let’s do this. Now is the time for us to start roaming around the world.
When did we decide to do this and how? I’m not entirely sure. But it was these memorable moments that certainly must have contributed to and shaped our decision to pursue this dream that we’re growing increasingly excited to finally now embark on.