A travel bug, when caught, is hard to ignore. It gnaws away at you. You find yourself looking at National Geographic magazines thinking, I could go there, or a Travel & Leisure magazine thinking I want to go there. But making the jump between those dreams and reality can be hard. We’ve been transparent about our own feelings here at IShouldLogOff, on the highs and lows of long-term travel, but a few weeks ago we introduced you to our traveler talk back series. This is the first of that series, which will deal with traveling from a perspective other than our own, the decision to leave, the decision to return, and living out the dream. One of the aspects of blogging we love the most, is the community we have. We highly encourage your participation in this series (and in general!), so if you have a question, comment or experience you’d like to share join our discussion either in the comments below or on facebook.
When and how much.
There are a lot of things to think about before leaving on an RTW, but the question we get asked most often is about money.
We asked Jill from JackandJillTravel, who left on an RTW in April, about her biggest concern before leaving on her RTW. She sums it up in one word – money. “Money. It’s all about money – how much should we save, how much should we have for re-entry, what are we going to do when the money runs out, wallah wallah…”
Where and When.
Jack and Jill, who blog under pseudonyms, started their RTW in South America in April. A long time in planning, the couple chose Colombia as their first destination. Like many long-term travelers, the couple left without a set itinerary. “We don’t really have any plan other than a vague idea of an itinerary (South America – Africa – Europe – Asia) – basically we’re going to travel until either money/motivation runs out. Whichever comes first,” said Jill.
Adam Seper, who runs World Travel for Couples, spent 51 weeks traveling the world in 2008-2009. He and his wife had an open ended itinerary. “We had always planned on coming home in about a year, but we left it open. We didn’t buy a RTW ticket, and we were open to finding a job somewhere or making this somewhat permanent. After a while on the road, though, we realized that being permanent nomads simply wasn’t for us.”
Ayngelina Brogan, editor of Bacon is Magic, started her RTW trip with a one-way ticket one-way ticket to Mexico. “When I arrived in Mexico I did not speak any Spanish so it has been an adventure for me,” she said. After traveling through Latin America for 14 months, Ayngelina has recently returned to Canada for a short break before heading out on her next adventure.
Leaving travel time and itinerary flexible and open is a common theme among long-term or RTW travelers. Having a vague itinerary leaves travelers open to take advantage of in-country opportunities, like volunteering or working. Jack and Jill spent nearly a month in Banos, Ecuador volunteering with an animal rescue group started by other travelers.
You are not alone.
When we left on our RTW, the first backpackers we met surprised us. They were people traveling for months, just like us, some traversing the Americas, others aiming to traverse the world, each on their own time frame, with their own path.
“There are a lot more of people doing these long term travel thingy than we have first expected,” said Jill of JackandJillTravel. “And some of them are doing some incredible things: like biking gazillion miles across continents and things like that. It’s been quite inspirational, really.”
The idea of a career break, or an “adult gap year” as some suggest, has grown in popularity over the last five years. According to the British Confederation of Industry survey in 2005, 75% of the British workforce is currently considering a career break. Of course this is probably highly over representing the people who are actually preparing and planning for a career break, but you get the drift.
Erin Davies and Pete Schaefer spent nine months traveling around the world and blogging about the adventure at The Scenic Route. The couple, who returned to the U.S. in May, decided to take off one school year, returning home in time for Pete, a high school teacher to find a job for the following school year.
We hate superlatives (they’re too hard to answer!), but we love “wish” questions. We asked Jack and Jill some hypothetical questions four months into their trip.
I wish someone had told us….
“To double and triple check our departure date. We arrived at the airport in LA only to find out that for all of those months we had had our ticket, we’d gotten the date wrong.” (You can read about Jack and Jill’s auspicious start here.)
I wish I had left behind…
“Three days ago I would’ve said our climbing shoes and harness. But then we had an awesome day of climbing here in Baños which made it all worth it.”
I wish I had brought…
“Extra ATM card. We only have one and we lose it – we’re screwed,” said Jack. “More underwear. I only brought a pair of everything and at the current rate of losing stuff, it’s inevitable I’ll have to replace them. And I’m very, very, very picky about underwear,” said Jill.
How would you answer the “I wish questions?” What’s on your mind about long-term or RTW travel? About these Travelers:
Adam Seper and his wife, Megan traveled around the world for 51 weeks. Adam currently edits World Travel for Couples, a website with destination guides, travel information and great tips geared at travel with a partner. You can find him on Facebook or Twitter.
Erin Davies and Pete Schaefer are busy settling back into life in Ohio. They spent 9 months traveling around the world in 2010, covering every continent except antarctica. You can read about their scenic route from DC to home on their travel blog. You can also check out some of their great travel pictures on flickr.