Since pretty much as long as Dave and I have known each other, we’ve been talking about traveling the world together. We met almost a year and a half ago in Chicago, where he had been living his whole life (aside from a summer in DC and a semester abroad in Australia). Not only was he ready to move on from his job as an attorney, he was also ready to move on from Chicago. He was ready for a change of scenery. He was ready for some sort of adventure.
Before Dave met me, he’d been toying with the idea of taking some time off from work to travel. He was ready for a change and after seven years of working, he had enough money to hold him over for quite a while. Dave didn’t have any concrete plans for his “next-step,” all he knew is that he was ready to take one.
Dave and I were introduced by a client of mine, and his best friend from college. We hit it off immediately. In fact, my mom says that after just our first date I called her and told her I knew I was going to sound crazy for saying it, but I thought he was the one. Well, yes, that does sound crazy, but when you know, you know. And I guess I did.
After just a few weeks of dating, Dave told me that he had been thinking of quitting his job to travel. He said that he not only really liked how things were going between us, he also thought we had a future together. At the time that we met though, my brother and I had just started a company together and I wasn’t ready to do something like quit my job and travel. Dave understood but expressed that even if it wasn’t traveling the world (which he still wanted to do eventually), he still needed to make some sort of change.
So, we moved to New York.
Of course, it wasn’t quite as simple as easy as that, but 6 months to the day after Dave and I met, we were living together on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Before we ever knew we’d be moving to NY, we had booked a trip out of Chicago to Belize over Christmas and New Years. So, as soon as we were settled in NY, we had to go back to Chicago for our trip.
As I mentioned, Dave and I had always talked about taking a trip around the world, and it was on our layover in Dallas on our way to Belize that we actually put a plan in action. Coincidentally, one of Dave’s friends had bought us a scratch-off map as a going away present and we used that to plan our trip of a lifetime. 3 to 4 months starting with Mount Everest Base Camp and ending with Machu Piccu.
Our itinerary was awesome, but there were two slight problems. 1. We estimated that our trip would cost around $70k. We planned to offset that by either having a very small wedding and using the extra money we would have spent traveling, or having a huge blowout wedding and registering for airline miles and money. Either way though $70k over 4 months is a lot of money. 2. We’d both leave our jobs and then come back to the states 3-4 months later with no plan. After spending $70k, we didn’t know if we could afford to come back and spend even more money while we were figuring out our next move.
Anyway, our RTW plan was awesome, but maybe not the most realistic. Either way, we were still planning on going through with it in some way shape or form.
After about 8 months of living in NY we were still thinking about our RTW trip and toying with different dates and timing. One day we were ready to walk away and the next we thought that maybe we’d stay a little longer. In the fall, I had a business trip in Austin so Dave met me there and we went to San Antonio and Dallas for the weekend. On our 5 hour drive between the two, Dave called his best friend and former roommate, Rob, who was planning to leave for a 5 month RTW trip of his own. He was telling us his plans when he mentioned that he would be visiting two friends in Thailand that went there for vacation and ended up staying for a year to teach English.
As soon as he said it, a light bulb went off in our heads. Why didn’t we think of it before? We had been planning to spend a lot of time in Southeast Asia on our trip anyway, so why not move to Thailand for a year and teach English to offset some of the costs of our travels? We could still do a few months of traveling while we were making our way down to Thailand, but then instead of coming back in 3-4 months with no plan and no job, we would stay abroad for a year, which would give us plenty of time not only to travel, but also to come up with a plan for when we return.
It really was a perfect plan for us. Dave had been a little nervous about having to live out of a suitcase for 4 months and I had been nervous about missing some awesome places that we learned about along the way because our schedule would already be set. This way, we’d have a home base (we decided Bangkok would be the best because it’s the easiest to travel from) and we’d have the flexibility and time to make up our plan as we go. If we heard about an awesome place from people we met while traveling, we’d have time to plan a weekend trip there.
It all came together very quickly, but all of the sudden we had a new plan. Dave was getting his bonus in April and then our NY lease would be up in June, so our adventure would start then. We had 8 months to plan the rest of our lives, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Of course, knowing Dave and me, we immediately started to put our plan into action by making a list of everything we would have to do. And first on the list was putting together an itinerary of all of the places we wanted to go before our trip and then everywhere we’d travel while living in Thailand.
Before we decided on our new Thailand plan (well call it RTW 2.0), we had been planning to take a trip over Memorial Day to the Pacific Northwest. We’d start in the Black Hills of South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore, then we’d drive to Montana and camp in Glacier National Park for a few days, and then we’d finish off our trip with a few days in both Portland and Seattle. Well, since we’d have to leave for the first part of our trip from the West Coast anyway, we figured that even though we’d most likely need to cut this trip down, we could still at least hit up Portland and Seattle before taking off.
From there, we’d head to South America. We’d fly to Lima to climb Maccu Pichu, head to Manaus to spend a few days in the Amazon and then go to Florionopolis, Iguaza Falls, and Buenos Aires before heading to Kathmandu to hike to Everest Basecamp.
From Everest, we would fly to Bangkok and get settled into our place and then we’d take one more trip to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam before school starts in October.
And now that we had a plan for our trip we could really start planning.