43 year old Henry, from Vancouver, has worked in astronomy for almost 20 years and lived in four countries on three continents. With a need to do something different he made the decision to leave his job and plans to travel around the world for the whole of 2012.
Where are you going and for how long?
I’m on the road for all of 2012. For the first 4 months, I’ll be wandering along the west-coast of North America with a stop “home” in Vancouver, as well as a number of places in the Midwest when (northern) spring breaks. With plans for a oneworld RTW ticket, the actual RTW begins in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area. From there, I have the following primary destinations: Nassau, Bahamas; Hong Kong; New Zealand; Australia; Cape Town, South Africa; and Europe. I am very fortunate to have all over the world friends with whom I can stay.
Have you told the boss yet?
My present employment is a limited-term appointment, and my departure was thus anticipated. Telling my boss I was going to travel around the world was not as difficult as I had imagined.
Planned to death or casual meander?
I like to plan; more to the point, I like to read everything, both from a good old-fashioned tactile guidebook and from the multitude of travel blogs online. I’ve essentially transferred my love of research from “astronomy” to “travel’. I’ve begun planning and coordinating with friends about the dates I’ll be visiting and if they’ve room for a travel bum to stay with them. I figure that once I’ve arrived at the respective destinations, I’ll do a mix of planning (from the information I’ve gathered) and going with what friends recommend. What will be different is New Zealand’s South Island and Europe, where I’ll be on my own. Naturally, I’ve been focusing my research efforts lately towards the South Island. I’ve lived in Europe before, but I still have to do a bit of homework there.
What do friends and family think about this?
It’s a mix between: “good on ya, I wish I could do the same!” to “You’re leaving astronomy?” and “What are you going to do afterwards?” I expected all of these reactions.
I’m about to undergo a big change, and the chance to travel for a full year simply presented itself. I’m fully convinced that I would’ve been foolish to turn down the chance. The cliché “now or never” was all too true.
How much is it going to cost and how are you financing the trip?
I fully expect the year-long travel will cost at least $20,000 US, and I *do* have a maximum number in mind. I’m very fortunate I’m able to stay with a number of friends for the most part in various locations around the world, which keeps the costs of accommodation way down. The exceptions are New Zealand’s South Island and Europe. With respect to the former, ideas range from the RV/camper-van to a rental car/bus + motels. In Europe, I would like to rent a short-term apartment as a “base” which I can call “home” and from which I can travel throughout the continent.
Any volunteer work plans?
I really haven’t thought much or considered plans of this nature, though of course, things might change and an opportunity could happen in the coming months.
What or where are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to seeing and catching up with friends around the world. Where places are concerned, I’ve got New Zealand’s South Island; Cape Town; the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia); Poland; and Barcelona. My plan has always been to spend December among Germany’s Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets), which I’ve always enjoyed from a lot of time already spent in the country.