A Trip 6 Years in the Making

As you know, we’re on our way, traveling the world for 7 months. Neither of us can recall exactly when we started scheming and dreaming about a trip around the world, but it was soon after meeting at work in early 2010. What started out as a vague “that would be fun” sentiment became more and more real in our minds over the months (and years) that we were working at Sauce Labs and building our careers.

We talked about it frequently – to each other, to our friends, to our family. Putting it out there made it real. Even if we had no idea when it would actually happen, it was the first step to going on the trip.

Prioritize Your Dream. Or Put More Explicitly: Save Your Freaking Money!

Three years ago, we started getting serious about saving for the trip. We had been talking about this for a couple of years but hadn’t actually done anything towards it. Granted, we weren’t ready to leave our jobs and our life yet, but we had to admit to ourselves that if that day came anytime in the next 6-12 months, we wouldn’t be ready to take off.

There are plenty of books and blog posts about traveling the world for a year (or longer). From Rolf Potts’ seminal book Vagabonding to Nomadic Matt’s travel blog, there’s a whole marketing machine behind long term travel!

At the time, we were both tied to an actual job so the intention was to not work and live off our savings (versus working remotely or getting odd jobs). Most posts recommended $25,000 – $30,000 per person for a year of traveling and living around the world, with plenty of variation depending on the countries you spend the most time in (Europe vs. Southeast Asia), accommodations (shared hostels vs. comfortable hotels), etc.

We opened up dedicated savings accounts for the trip and started putting money away each month. While we are incredibly fortunate to have good jobs and zero debt, what we learned from this process was that prioritization of the trip was the golden ticket.

Three years later, when it was time to actually do the trip, we were ready because we had been prepping for it in the form of budgeting and automatic withdrawals – way less painful!

Say Yes. Put It In Motion. Make Space. 

In June of 2016, Santi decided it was time to leave Sauce Labs (I had left in 2014 and was working as a marketing consultant for tech companies and singing jazz on the side). That meant it was “make or break” time. Would we actually leave our life behind to do the trip? Santi was getting tons of recruiting emails and my marketing business / singing gigs were in full swing. Things were good. Really good. Could we walk away from it?

Through lots of conversations and weighing our options, we settled on something that felt right for both of us. Instead of 1 year around the world, we decided to split the trip into two 6 month trips. While we would be narrowing the list of countries we could visit this go-around, a shorter trip was easier to plan, required less money, and made ejecting from our current life feel less overwhelming.

Next came the conversation around our stuff. Although we adored where we lived in San Francisco, we weren’t able to sublet while traveling. Storage is ridiculously expensive and we didn’t like the idea of our belongings just sitting in a dark closet anyway, not getting any use at all.

Santi had the great idea for a “Take Our Stuff” party, where our friends could come over and walk around with post-it notes, claiming our stuff. This was a totally fun and weird experience that we’ll probably repeat next go around. We appreciated the experience of seeing our stuff go to people we loved and continuing to get used.

What was left went to the family (thanks, dad!) and Goodwill – save for some clothes we couldn’t part with, my music gear, our bikes, very thoughtful gifts and some kitchenware that I just adore (like my fire engine red dutch oven that I plan to use until I die).

Even after all that planning, the night before leaving, we still found ourselves with a pile of things to pack or dispose of:

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Hours before heading to the airport

I think the above photos says it all. We went from an apartment full of stuff to two backpacks each and my goodness do we feel FREEEEEEEE.

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