Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Leaving it all behind for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
“You need to do something BIG, something crazy.”
My good friend, Alex, has a way of making sweeping statements like this one that seem to set the course for whatever will happen next. Whenever I’m torn about life's decisions (Should I go back to school? Should I go on this trip? Has a relationship run its course? ), Alex offers the perspective I need. I think he knows what I want him to say and I just need to hear it out loud. As usual, he was right. It was time to make a change. To do something BIG.
I had already been working towards a career change and I was cooking up a plan with my new, London-based, Canadian boyfriend, Andrew, to take a big trip together. He was in the perfect position to take an extended leave from work and we knew this trip was more than a two-week vacation. It’s funny how once you set your mind to something, the pieces start to fall into place. It was as if it was already decided for us. It all made perfect sense. He would take a sabbatical from work, I would quit my job, and we would spend the summer traveling around the world together.
Something BIG indeed.
It was suddenly a very busy time! Ideally we would have spent a year or so planning a trip like this, but not us. We had two months to prepare for the epic journey ahead of us. So we made a wish list of all the places we wanted to visit. Over many FaceTime calls, Google Hangouts, and an ever-growing shared Google doc, we scoured the map, looking at high seasons and low seasons, flight schedules, budgets, prices, and where we have friends around the world. We settled on a final itinerary and purchased two Round-the-World tickets. We would visit ten countries (not including our respective home countries) and have plenty of time in each location. We would spend some time in each other’s hometowns near Calgary, Canada and Cleveland, Ohio before beginning our BIG journey westward. Of course we’d make a couple more stops in the States before heading out of the country because they’re basically on the way. This "on the way" logic is the reason my trips are never simple.
Our Around-the-World itinerary:
Canada - Calgary
U.S. - Cleveland, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Hawaii
New Zealand - Queenstown, Auckland, and Rotorua
Australia - Sydney, Cairns, and Brisbane
Vietnam - from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
Cambodia - Phnom Penh and Siem Reap
Thailand - Bangkok
Indonesia - Bali
Egypt - from Cairo to Luxor
Jordan - from Amman to Petra
Portugal - Lisbon and the Azores
Planning the trip was just the beginning. I was also crafting an exit strategy from my current job, finishing up my certification in UX design, and moving all of my stuff into my parent's place for safe-keeping while we were away. Andrew was wrapping up work in London and planning his journey back to Canada. Of course we also spent plenty of time on other trip-related details, like researching each destination, booking hotels and Airbnbs, applying for visas, getting vaccinations, buying travel insurance, and booking activities.
Some days I wake up and I still can’t believe this is happening. On a few of those days, I have a moment of panic where I wonder if it was a huge mistake to quit my job and travel for three months without having a job lined up when I get back. But then I remember that life is short and you have to do whatever it is that makes your heart happy, no matter how BIG or scary it may be. You have to do it while you can, even if it means taking a leap of faith that it’ll all work out on the other side.
If you’ve read my blog posts or if we’ve ever talked about travel, then you already know there will be many stories to tell, photos to share, and plenty of advice to pass along from our adventures!
Around-the-World planning resources:
Bootsnall.com is a great resource for planning a trip around the world and buying a Round-the-World (RTW) ticket. This option gave us the flexibility we wanted with flight schedules and pricing.
Star Alliance offers a RTW ticket, but the options are a bit limited once you head to countries that have major airlines that aren't part of the alliance. There is also a limit on the number of "legs" (flights) you can book in one trip. Since a flight with a layover qualifies as two legs, we quickly ran out of legs before we could book a trip all the way around the world.
If SkyTeam is your preference, they offer a RTW ticket as well, but the circumstances will be similar to those with Star Alliance.
Don't forget to take a look at my planning resources for any and every trip.
Until next time, happy travels!