“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
We kept our trip quiet for a long time and when we finally starting telling people, we found out that people had a lot of questions for us. People wanted to know where we’re headed, why we’re going, how long, and how we’re pulling this off. Below is a list of the most common questions that have come our way to give you a little more background on our preparations and what the journey entails.
Where are you most excited to visit?
Paul: South Africa was tops on my list before this trip and we're doing a 26 day Safari through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Diem: All of them!
How many countries will you be visiting?
Our itinerary, as of now, includes visiting around 46 countries and 6 continents but our trip is built in to have some flexibility in case we want to stay someplace longer or visit a new place.
When did you decide to make this trip?
Back in 2009-2010 some friends of mine did a similar trip. Around that same time I did my bar trip in Australia and New Zealand and met a couple of groups of people that were taking a year off work to travel around the world. I made the decision that I was going to make it happen and it didn't take much convincing for Diem to agree. We knew we wanted to do this trip before we started a family and we didn't want to wait till retirement to travel the world.
How did you decide on your itinerary?
When planning our route, we wanted to follow summer so that we didn't have to carry around winter clothes that would take up a lot of space. We had a list of countries/places to see and researched the best time to see them. We took into account some recommendations from friends and family. We also had some weddings in the US that we had to come back for that we had plan around.
How will you get around?
By land, by sea, and by air! We've generally opted for overland travel whenever possible. It’s cheaper, and, we feel, a better way to get to know the people and places. To cover large distances, we’d originally planned to purchase an around the world ticket. These tickets are sold at a static price based on the amount of mileage you fly or on the amount of continents you visit. When we began mapping out our trip in greater detail, however, we compared the prices of buying one-way flights with the around the world ticket and found one-way flights were just a few hundred dollars more. Because it was a nominal price difference and would offer us greater flexibility, we’ve opted to buy one-way tickets as we go. Also, the around the world tickets required you to go in one direction and since we were coming back to the US for some weddings it wasn't possible. We've booked only some of our tickets up to about January 2017 so we'll have to play it by ear as we go.
What does your family think?
After the initial shock, and a lot of questions, we are extremely lucky to have a very supportive family. Although not all of them share our adventurous spirit, everyone has been excited for us.
What did you do about your jobs?
We had to make sacrifices to make this trip happen, which meant putting our careers on hold. We expected mixed reviews from colleagues on our upcoming travel plans; however, we were both pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming amount of support we received. One of my co-workers said that when people look back at their careers no one ever wishes that they worked more, so we should go and enjoy ourselves.
How do you pack for a trip like this?
In one word: sparingly. Basically, you bring what you might expect to wear over the course of a week or so and be ready to wear and re-wear those items for the duration of the journey (of course with a bit of laundry in between!). Deciding exactly what to pack has taken a great deal of research. Lucky for us, we strategically planned our route to follow summer so all the bulky winter coats, hats and gloves are out. We’re sticking to light-weight, moisture-wicking materials to get the most wear for our buck and plan to give things away if we don’t need them and purchase those things along the way we might be lacking. We plan to include a specific packing list once it’s all been finalized.
What did you do with your house and all your belongings?
We are renting out our house while we're away. My parents have graciously agreed to watch our dogs. Everything else is stored away in a storage unit awaiting our homecoming.
Are you guys staying in hotels/hostels?
It depends on the country and city. I would like hostels and couchsurfing because I've had great experiences with both and I think it's a great way to meet people doing similar travels and meet locals as well. Diem would like to stay in hotels and Airbnb so it'll be a mix of these and I'm sure budget will have a lot to do on where we stay.
Have you traveled like this before?
Before Diem met me, she had never been out of the country (i.e., lame). Since then, we've taken a number of trips but never for that long. We traveled to Italy, France, and Greece for about 3 weeks, China and the Philippines for about 3 weeks, Eastern Europe for about 2 weeks, and some other shorter trips. This will be the first time we will be on the road for more than a few weeks.
How much are you budgeting?
We budgeted about $60k for the 13 months. I'm going to be as open as possible for this blog and show what we spent in each country and for transportation so that people can have a realistic sense of what it takes to take a year off and travel. We are aiming for mid-range travel sprinkling in some budget travel and the occasional splurge when possible. You can follow the details here.
How much planning and preparing does a trip like this entail?
Quite a bit. As I said, I had been thinking about this trip for a long time. I've been saving airline miles and money for a long time. We spent endless hours browsing traveling sites, searching for tickets, researching visas and vaccines, managing finances and insurance, setting up our taxes, narrowing down the best camera and computer options and working diligently to tighten up our to do list. Diem's planning really came in handy as she took the lead on a lot of the logistics and research. We dreamed about this trip for years and spent nearly an entire year planning to make this happen.
What is your advice for people planning a round the world trip?
I've subscribed to the philosophy of don't say "I can't do it," ask yourself "how can I make it happen?" There are a million and one reasons why the timing isn’t right, why next year or the year after will be better and why you should put it off. It only gets harder as you get older, get married, have kids, but it's never impossible. Stop making excuses. Set reasonable goals and follow up on them. Make it a daily priority and constantly discuss with your significant other or others that share your interests. You are going to have to make sacrifices, but I can assure you it will be one of the best decisions of your life.