In 2009 a month backpacking around Thailand inspired British couple Amy and Andrew to start saving for a much longer journey that will begin in March 2013. After meeting people who were in the midst of their own incredible round the world adventures they decided to make travel their priority.
Both 28 and working in London as an online content manager and a secondary school French and Spanish teacher respectively, Amy and Andrew have already been to Crete, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, France and Kenya since they first met at University in Bristol seven and a half years ago.
Where are you going and for how long?
We have one-way flights to New Zealand booked for the 3rd March 2013, which sounds like a long time off but it’s actually only 20 weeks away! We’ll spend a month there before flying to Australia for another month then travelling on to Indonesia for two months. After that we’re planning to spend a month in the Philippines before heading over to Thailand where we’ll be visited by friends and family.
After that we have no concrete plans, we hope to travel around the rest of Asia for another six months or so before settling somewhere (hopefully Thailand) for a while to work and replenish our savings. Then, who knows – South America, Canada, Eastern Europe? We basically want to travel for as long as we can!
Have you told the boss yet?
Since he’s a teacher, Andrew has to give at least a full term’s notice, so yes, he’s already formally resigned. Although the rest of his department are sad to lose him, they’ve spent the last few years listening to his travel plans, so it came as no real surprise. While a few of the people I work with know that I’m planning to leave, my actual boss has no idea yet. I’m hoping to carry on writing for my company in a freelance capacity while we travel, so I want to keep a good relationship with them. That means I’ll probably hand in my notice at the end of November, a good two and a half months before we go. For some reason I am quite nervous about it though!
Planned to death or casual meander?
A mix of the two; I am an obsessive planner, while Andrew is the king of nonchalance and leaving things till the last minute. That means that I end up trying to plan every single detail of the trip while he prefers to figure out just the bare essentials. Actually, one of the things I hope to gain from long-term travel is to learn how to relax and just let things happen rather than obsess over everything.
We’ve allowed ourselves to plan a detailed itinerary for New Zealand, including booking our hostels, car rental and planning which activities we want to do. I know that sounds a bit too organised, but, we are going to be there in peak season, so it makes sense to book ahead, right? Other than that we’re trying to limit planning to booking flights, organising visas and writing a rough list of places we want to go to and things we want to see in each country.
What do friends and family think about this?
This is a tough one. We’ve been talking about going travelling for years, but it seems like no one really believed we’d actually go until we booked our flights – then we got quite a range of reactions. Some people were happy for us while others weren’t so pleased. My mum, for example, is quite upset that we’re leaving and doesn’t think we’ll ever return, in fact, she prefers not to discuss the trip at all! A few people have said that they’re jealous and wish they could do something similar, while others ask questions like, ‘what if you can’t find a job when you get back?’ or ‘are you sure you can you afford to travel for so long?’.
I’d say the overall reaction has been ambivalence; most people aren’t keen to talk about the trip much and just don’t seem that interested which has surprised me. But hey, I can accept that not everyone is passionate about travel and that we’re making an unusual life decision which can be hard for many people to relate to. I’m sure if we were getting married, buying a house or having a child people would be a lot more interested!
Now is the ideal time for us to go travelling, we’ve finished all our studies, we have a few years work experience behind us and enough money in the bank to do this. So, why wait any longer? We’re itching to get out there and explore, we’re bored of the routine of our lives and being stuck in one place when we know there’s so much more to see. In short – if we don’t do this now, we might never do it. Now is our time!
How much is it going to cost and how are you financing the trip?
We’ve been saving for this trip properly for the past two years and by the time we leave we’ll have saved around £28,000. To try and boost our savings I’ve taken on freelance work and we’re in the process of selling as much of our stuff as we can. Since we plan to spend the bulk of our time in Asia, we’ve set ourselves a £1,000 per month budget so we could theoretically travel constantly for a couple of years. However, we’re hoping to replenish our savings by working as we go so we can travel for longer. The ultimate aim is to make travel a permanent part of our life, whether that means spending six months of a year working and then another six months travelling, or becoming digital nomads.
Any paid or volunteer work plans?
Yes, as previously mentioned, I’m hoping to carry on a bit of freelance writing for the companies I currently work for while we’re on the road. When we do settle somewhere Andrew is keen to use his languages and teaching skills and get a job in a school.
We’re also currently exploring volunteering options; I’m passionate about women’s rights and would love to volunteer for a charity like WomanKind. Currently I volunteer for an animal shelter in London which also has clinics in Indonesia and Nepal, so it would be great to visit them too. We’d like to find an ethical way to volunteer at a monkey sanctuary; I know a lot of organisations have turned volunteering into big business, so we need to research how best to choose any placements.
What (or where) are you most looking forward to?
Right now Andrew is most excited about getting to New Zealand as it’ll signal the beginning of our new life of travel (and we have tons of cool activities like skydiving lined up). He’s also looking forward to not having to get up at 5.25 every morning for work! I think I’m looking forward to just being on the road and out of an office, seeing new places and doing things I’d never normally do in England (like skydiving!). Country-wise, I feel like the real travelling will begin when we get to Indonesia, so I’m excited about that.