Like all grand plans I have, this blog has finally come to fruition after living inside of my head for quite some time. Whether it’s starting a blog or buying a big screen TV, the ideas in my head must be analyzed, scrutinized, and contemplated upon for long periods of time before I’m able to make the commitment to actually pursue that effort. It takes me way longer to let it toss and turn in my head than it should to actually just complete the task, but that’s not how I do things.
About the only thing I rarely hesitate on is travel. Fly to Seattle and back in a day? Sure, why not. Travel for over 3 days by boat and plane just to visit a mostly deserted continent? Sounds like a good time. Move halfway across the world? Let’s do this. And that’s where I am today. Who knows what will come next.
When the idea of starting a travel blog starting bouncing around in my head a couple of years ago, the force behind it was much different. Years before the idea of starting a travel blog idea came about, I stumbled on an article on BudgetTravel.com about a guy who had quit his job to travel the world for a year. He worked as a TV producer for HBO, and had been sent on an overseas assignment in Asia. He met a couple of guys who had taken a year off from working to travel. At first, the idea seemed crazy to him, but a few months after returning to the States he got the urge to do the same thing. In order to justify the trip to himself, he decided he’d take along a video camera and make a documentary about the experience – both his personal experience as well as a number of round the world (RTW) travelers’ experiences he met along the way. When I got the chance to watch A Map for Saturday I was exposed to a whole different type of travel.
Traveling around the world with just a backpack for a year or so was an incredible idea, and really seemed to fit me. Of course, even with great ideas there are downsides or at the very least, opportunity costs. First of all, it would be an extremely expensive trip no matter how often I couchsurfed or how cheaply I ate. To be honest, though, this wasn’t a major concern of mine. Sure, I’d have to save quite a bit, and then drain the savings I had already accumulated, but there will always be money to be made somewhere, somehow. Second, there was the job factor. When I first starting contemplating a RTW trip, I was working in Florida and really enjoying my job. My co-workers were a great group of people, and I enjoyed the work. Of course, the job couldn’t beat hiking Machu Picchu, visiting Petra, or diving the Great Barrier Reef, but it certainly paid better. I did feel confident that if I were to quit my job I would either be able to rejoin my old company or find something similar when I came back. However, I did know that a year away would put me at a disadvantage in my career path. Sure, there’d be some skills I’d gain on the road, but I’d definitely be a few steps behind when jumping back into the corporate world. Thirdly, I was also in the process of buying a house. At the time I figured I’d be in Florida for the long haul, and the real estate market seemed to be bottoming out a bit (boy was I wrong). It seemed like the right time to buy a house before prices started to rise again (did I mention I was wrong?). None of these things in themselves convinced me not to make the plunge, but put them together, and they at least got me to delay the decision.
While the idea of world travel continued to bounce around in my head, as tends to happen, life went on. I soon met a girl, and the idea of world travel got put on the back burner for a little while. This girl happened to live in Kansas City, and I was living in Orlando at the time. As we dated I soon found out that she loved travel as much as I did. We began hopping on planes every month or so to visit each other. I love to fly, and the idea of heading to the airport to go see her made me love flying even more. Eventually it was time for one of us to move, and for many reasons it was an easy decision which one of us it was going to be. Soon, I was on my way to Kansas City.
I once asked her, if she had the money to do so, would she quit her job and travel the world for a year. When she replied, “Absolutely”, I knew she was the girl for me. We got married last spring, and late last year we had decided we were going to make this RTW trip happen. We were going to save our money for the next year, and take a six month long trip around the world starting in January of 2014. It was quite a ways off, but it was about the right time to make sure we focused on saving for such a large trip and to start getting a rough idea of where we wanted to go.
At the beginning of this year, while continuing to procrastinate the planning of our RTW trip, I ran into a coworker I had graduated college with. He had just moved his family back from Doha, Qatar after spending 2.5 years there. I had seen pictures of the trips he had taken while working there, and I started asking him about both his travel and job experiences. It turned out that they needed a replacement for his position in Doha, and suggested that if I was interested to talk to my wife about it. Long before she met me, she had wanted to live somewhere outside of the States for a year or so. If she had her choice of locations, I don’t think that Doha would be at the top of her list, but this certainly was an opportunity to look into. It would mean putting our RTW trip on an indefinite hold, but it would allow us to see many of the places we wanted to visit on our RTW trip anyway. We wouldn’t get to experience the slow pace of travel I was looking for on the RTW trip, but not only would I not have to quit my job, I’d be able to gain some incredible experience that should help me in my career later on. With a travel stipend, our modest stash of miles and points, and the fact that many of the places we want to visit are so much closer and cheaper to get to over here our travel could be done quite economically. We decided we’d go for it if the decision makers that be decided I was the right guy for the job. The process of knowing if we were going to get to move or not stretched out over a month or so and was a bit up and down. Eventually, though, we had our plane tickets and started the packing and moving planning process.
I’ve been here exactly a month now, and I really enjoy it. It’s certainly different, but I haven’t experienced the huge culture shock that everyone seems to suggest I should be experiencing. I don’t know if that’s because the culture shock they experienced doesn’t really affect me, I just haven’t noticed it, or I’ve just gotten lucky so far. But again, I’m just a month in. We’ll see how things are going in six months or so.
I’ve got plans and goals for this blog, but I’ll leave those for another post. I enjoy hearing people’s stories on how they got to where they are in life, and so before I shared those plans and goals, I wanted to give you a little of my travel back story. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and there will be more travel related posts coming soon.